Those of you already familiar with the fair shores of Lake Ontario know that there are about six days per semester with bearable weather. We are enjoying a sacred time of year where we can walk outside in less than 15 layers without fear of frostbite. Everyone thrives during this wonderful time where you don’t need a vitamin D supplement to function. But when the ecosystem gives, it also takes away. The warm weather is an invitation for infestation. You’ve seen them buzzing around fruit waste and first-year halls…

The Yellowjackets.

Yellowjackets (Vespula cappella) are great for the local ecosystem, and it is actually really fun to watch them happily dance betwixt the flowers, humming in chorus. But get too close, and they’ve been known to swarm. If you want to avoid being swarmed in your day-to-day life, here are a few things to look out for:

  1. You will hear them before you see them. Yellowjackets make a very distinct harmonic noise that can be heard within a large radius. Listen for them and plan accordingly. Don’t worry if you are one of the many students who prefer wearing headphones to actually paying attention to their surroundings; Yellowjackets have a very distinctive color palette (hence the name) and are easily identifiable.
  2. Make sure to plan alternate routes. Yellowjackets enjoy congregating in the highest-trafficked areas on campus, so make sure you are able to quickly find a new way to your desired destination. The campus is already hard enough to navigate with over six thousand undergrads milling around in the tunnel system. Traveling just gets harder when you can’t take a certain path without walking through a swarm of buzzing tenors.
  3. To all first-years: You are the most susceptible. Yellowjackets can often be seen jauntily buzzing down the hallways of the first-year dorms. Any upperclassman will regale you with anecdotes of various infestations throughout their first year. As your dorms get further from the center of campus, this tends to be a nonissue. Often your best course of action is waiting them out, since fumigating an entire first-year dorm and displacing 300 students isn’t really an option.

You will find yourself surrounded by Yellowjackets while the nice weather persists, and how you interact with them is entirely up to you. Keeping all of this in mind, I’ll be the first to admit that their cover of “Valerie” is exceptional.



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