If you’ve tried to eat outside Usdan in the past few weeks, you probably had to deal with the nuisance of having your food almost immediately surrounded by bees. As it happens, these insects are actually yellowjackets, a type of predatory wasp which can be more aggressive than honeybees when provoked, but whose stings are not any more harmful than bee stings (unless you’re allergic).
They’ve been so active lately because yellowjacket hives expand in late summer and autumn, and our lunch food is a prime feeding source for members of the hive (which is probably somewhere on campus):
Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar, Mountain Dew and tree sap), the larvae feed on proteins (insects, meats, fish, etc.). Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults… In late summer, foraging workers (nuisance scavengers) change their food preference from meats to ripe, decaying fruits or scavenge human garbage, sodas, picnics, etc., since larvae in the nest fail to meet requirements as a source of sugar.
There’s not much to be done about them, but here are some tips on dealing with yellowjackets. They should be gone once the weather gets colder, but until then your best bet is to avoid eating outside.