Western yellowjackets were accidentally introduced into Hawaii during the 1900's, and are causing serious problems. In the continental U.S. colonies of this yellowjacket usually die off each winter, and only the fertilized queens survive. However, in Hawaii’s warm year-round climate, colonies don’t die off; they continue to grow larger each year. Nests that are typically basketball-size and hold 50,000 workers—a serious enough problem—can become even larger and explode to 500,000 workers.
These yellowjackets can cause severe problems for native eco-systems. Adult yellowjackets consume large amounts of nectar, which means there is less for native insects and birds. The pests apparently also are disrupting pollination of native plants. In addition, yellow-jackets need protein for their growing broods, so they consume huge amounts of insects and other prey, leaving less food available for Hawaii's insect-eating birds, many of whose populations have dwindled. Even honey bees are food for these wasps—they kill the bees by decapitating them. This pest is indeed causing havoc!
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