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Experimental and Applied Testing of Yellowjacket Trapping Efficacy in Upstate New York; Summary of Work to Date


Trapping yellowjackets for the purpose of reducing stinging risks at community festivals has been done in at least two locations in upstate New York. Cayuga County has been trapping at two annual events in Emerson Park for at least five years (Bruce Natale, Cayuga Co. Planning Office, personal communication). Trapping at the Clothesline Art Festival in Rochester, NY has been conducted for two years (Peter Castronovo, University of Rochester, personal communication). In both situations before the use of the traps, the number of instances of first aid administered for stings was described as “numerous”.  Concurrent with trapping, such cases were noticeably reduced, usually to less than six.

 In 2000 and 2001, we experimented with the use of traps at two school districts, one each in Albany County and Livingston County. The traps were placed around elementary school playgrounds. We compared trapped playgrounds to non-trapped playgrounds in both districts by regularly surveying for stinging insect nests and surveying teachers and school nurses about known or perceived risks. Collectively over both years and both school districts, almost 10,000 stinging insects were captured. The vast majority (98%) was Vespula yellowjackets. However, we have real questions whether we reduced the risk of being stung at the playgrounds, especially given the previously mentioned evidence that the traps attract yellowjackets.

 To conclude and based on our current results, the best use of yellowjacket traps is probably when there already exists a strong attractant, such as concession stands, for yellowjackets. I would not recommend using the traps if such attractants do not exist which is the case for many playgrounds. For festivals, the recommended procedure is to start trapping one week before the festival begins and continue trapping through the duration of the event. Traps will need to be regularly serviced, possibly daily, while they are up. During the 2004 field season, we plan to continue the trapping trials with some adjustments so that they more closely mimic how the traps are actually used.