Just as stories of dwindling pollinator populations have been hitting the news, one man in Florida has discovered the wasp mother lode. Entomologist and bee removal expert Jonathan Simkins was called in to take care of the almost six-foot yellow jacket wasp nest, which was home to more than a million wasps. Although freakishly amazing, the mega-nest could have proven disastrous, and even deadly, to innocents that may have stumbled upon it while hiking in the woods.
Simkins was hired to eliminate the jumbo nest, for fear that if someone discovered it by accident they would be killed by swarming wasps. He refuses to explain his methods for eliminating the nest, guarding his trade secrets. Simkins likens the Floridian wasp nest to “Jurassic proportions,” comparing it to prehistoric nests before humans took over. The expert estimated that over one million wasps called the nest home, rather than the average of 1,000 to 1,500 bugs. Another difference with the Jurassic nest is the presence of hundreds of queens, rather than just one who rules the roost.
Although Simkins was clad from head to toe in protective gear, hundreds of wasps swarmed him and his camera, managing to get through his facial nets and sting him a few times on the face. He imagines that without the gear, the attacking wasps would’ve covered his body with stings instantly, causing shock or worse. The wasps also trailed Simkins, protecting the area hundreds of yards around the nest from intruders.
Wasps are known as the predators of the insect species, often helping plants by killing off parasitoids like hornworms and scale insects. Yellow jacket wasps, which were buzzing away in the oversized nest, are also pollinators, which are vital to natural systems. Simkins is keeping his wasp-control skills top secret, but we hope that it involves relocating the wasps, rather than exterminating them.