SAN ANGELO – A Texas AgriLife Extension Service wildlife specialist said hunters entering their blinds for the opening day of deer season may want to do so armed only with a flashlight.
“Climbing a ladder in the dark and crawling into a cramped box blind with your .270 slung over your shoulder is ‘not’ a good time to discover that wasps are sharing your blind,” said Dr. Dale Rollins of San Angelo.
“Every so often in late fall we have a real plague of wasps; this year it coincided with Halloween. With no killing frost in sight, and deer season opening this Saturday, it’s a good time to talk safety in the deer stand.
“Always check out the confines and vicinity of your blind, preferably before a pre-dawn entrance on Saturday,” he said. “Wasps, spiders and bees often take up residence in the blinds and can pose problems, especially for those allergic to such bites. Rattlesnakes are still active so be sure and approach your blind with both eyes open to the presence of snakes.”
Dr. Chris Sansone, associate department head and AgriLife Extension program leader for entomology also stationed at San Angelo, said the abundant rains much of West Texas had last summer were just right for a wasp population boom.
“As hot and dry as our summer ended, it’s hard to remember the excellent moisture we received in July,” Sansone said. “Wasps prey on other insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae, and we had plenty of all those this season thanks to those timely rains. The wasps are now searching for places to overwinter and a deer blind with a loose-fitting door or window can be just the rustic country cabin they’re seeking.”
Sansone said the yellow wasps with black stripes seen most often in West Texas are really “paper wasps,” not yellow jackets as they are often called.
“True yellow jackets belong to the genus Vespula,” he said. “They often build huge nests underground or inside walls. Paper wasps build modest-sized lightweight paper nests usually suspended by a single filament from the eves of houses and elsewhere. They belong to the genus Polistes.”
Sansone added that honey bees have done well in West Texas this year too, so hunters need to consider that their blinds may have been converted to jumbo-sized beehives since last season as well.
“Just remember that our insect friends may be in the blind itself, underneath it or in the walls,” Rollins said. “And the report of one’s deer rifle could really cause an unwelcome ‘buzz’ given the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve had lately.”