Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nest No More Stingers Pulled from Brunswick House

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nest No More Stingers Pulled from Brunswick House

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- A four-man team worked past 1 a.m. yesterday

capturing and killing an estimated 50,000 stinging yellow

jackets and removing their huge nest from an abandoned house.

University of Georgia entomology professor Robert Matthews and

his three assistants, all dressed in protective clothing,

entered the house at 9:30 p.m. Saturday and began using a

specially rigged electric lawn vacuum to pull the swarming

insects from their nest. Matthews said he will dissect the nest,

which was roughly 3 feet by 4 feet, to determine its age and

why it survived through winter's cold.

The work attracted a crowd of more than 100 at one time, but

many quickly dispersed when yellow jackets swarmed from an open

window of the small frame house shortly after the team began

capturing them.

Several who remained paid the price of painful stings. Ken

Conley, a field inspector with Glynn County's Community

Development Department, was stung several times Friday and

Saturday night as he tried to keep the crowd back from the house

when Matthews and his crew agitated the wasps.

Matthews, who has studied yellow jackets for 20 years, said the

ones that had taken up residence in a sofa in the old house were

especially aggressive.

"We have two species in Georgia, the eastern yellow jacket and

the southern yellow jacket. This is the southern yellow jacket.

Of the two, my experience has been this is the nasty one. This

one stings harder and hurts worse," Matthews said.

Matthews and his team took care to avoid stings going so far as

placing duct tape over the zippers of their suits and any

potential gaps around cuffs and the veils they wore. Matthews'

two sons, Greg, a medical technology engineer, and Mike, a

science teacher, were on the team as was Gene Timpson, an

engineer who helps by fashioning insect-trapping devices.

"I make things as I go along," Timpson said.

Before vacuuming the wasps, the team went into the house Friday

night and covered it with a tent of plastic sheeting with a

single, funnel-shaped opening at the top that Timpson made. The

yellow jackets had all day Saturday to get accustomed to using

that opening.

Like other wasps, the yellow jackets went back to the nest

after sundown Saturday and settled in for the night.

About an hour later, three of the four men went into the house

and shook the tent, agitating the wasps. When they swarmed

through the funnel, Timpson was ready with the vacuum, sucking

them into containers he had fashioned from plastic beef jerky

jars with a screen over an end that had been sawed away.

When the bottles were full of insects, they were capped and

passed outside to the fourth member who dropped small pieces of

dry ice inside. …

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