Let me remind you again about a very useful conference for beef producers. Last week I mentioned it in this column and hopefully you read it. I want to remind you again so you can plan to attend.

The Southern Kentucky Beef Conference is scheduled to be held at the Cave City Convention Center on Oct. 11 with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. and the program starts at 10. The conference is scheduled to run to about 3.

This conference will have several industry and extension experts making presentations to look into the trends and demands of the beef industry. With cattle prices remaining high, we enjoy the current opportunities.

However, what does the future behold? To look at the longer term picture, we have scheduled beef industry leaders to look deep into the statistics and historical trends.

Jim Robb, of the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver, Colo., will be one of our special guests. He is an internationally recognized market analyst who works closely with the beef industry.

Dr. Darrh Bullock, UK Extension beef cattle geneticist, will speak concerning breeding programs and the need for multiple trait selection for the current market place.

Dr. Lee Meyer and Kenny Burdine, UK Ag Economists, will also give input during the conference to help producers learn to sort through statistics and seek opportunities to meet industry demands. This conference is one that our local beef producers need to attend as you plan your future in beef production.

Pre-registration is requested for us to plan the conference. There is a $10 registration fee that will include lunch at the conference. If you plan to attend, the pre-registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 3. Stop by the Barren County Extension Office to pre-register.

THE YELLOWJACKETS ARE COMING

During late-summer and fall, yellowjacket colonies are nearing maturity and huge numbers of workers are out foraging for food for the developing queens. With insect prey (their usual diet) becoming scarce, yellowjackets scavenge widely for other sources of nutrition. They’re particularly fond of sweets, e.g., fruit, soft drinks, ice cream, beer, but will also feed on meats, potato salad, and just about anything we eat. The persistent foraging of yellowjackets at picnics and other outdoor activities prompts many calls to us from homeowners and businesses, wanting to know what can be done to alleviate the problem. Here are their options:

1.) Sanitation – The best way to reduce the threat of foraging yellowjackets is to minimize attractive food sources. People eating outdoors should keep food and beverages covered until ready to be eaten. Spills and leftovers should be cleaned up promptly. Trash cans should be equipped with tight-fitting, preferably, self-closing lids. Similar sanitation recommendations should be made to commercial establishments, including ice cream parlors, outdoor cafes, and produce stands. Whenever possible, trash cans and dumpsters should be located away from serving tables, doors, and other high-traffic areas. Trash cans should be equipped with a plastic liner and emptied and clean frequently.

Maintaining high levels of sanitation throughout the summer will make areas less attractive to yellowjackets late in the fall. This strategy is especially useful for parks and other outdoor recreation areas. Apples and other fallen tree fruits should be raked up and discarded.

2. Avoidance – Combined with sanitation, avoidance is the best advice in most situations. Yellowjackets foraging away from their nests are seldom aggressive and usually will not sting unless provoked. People should resist the temptation to “swat” at the wasps; most stings occur when foragers are slapped or trapped against skin. Be extremely careful when drinking from beverage cans into which a foraging yellowjacket may have crawled. Swelling resulting from a wasp sting inside the mouth can be life threatening. Avoidance may also be the best advice if a yellowjacket, hornet, or bumble bee nest is located in a tree or other out-of-the-way location. Yellowjacket colonies die off on their own in late autumn with the onset of cold weather. Abandoned nests are not reused and soon disintegrate.

3. Repellents – Standard mosquito repellents will not deter yellowjacket foraging, or reduce the chances of being stung. A diluted solution of ammonia and water (approximately 6 oz. of ammonia per gallon of water), sprayed in and around trash cans and sponged onto outdoor eating tables will help to mask food odors and minimize attraction to these areas. Use household ammonia, not bleach.

4. Traps – Yellowjacket traps of varying designs are sold at many lawn and garden shops. When properly baited and maintained, these traps (much like Japanese beetle traps) often attract and capture large numbers of yellowjackets. Unfortunately, the nests often contain thousands of foraging individuals and trapping a few hundred seldom results in a noticeable reduction in activity. If traps are used, position them around the periphery of the area you wish to protect; otherwise, you may attract more wasps than are trapped.

5. Insecticides – Elimination of yellowjackets is best accomplished by locating and destroying the nests. However, with foraging yellowjackets that is often impractical since the nest, or nests, may be located several hundred yards away. People still should inspect the area around their homes for nests. The best time to do this is during the daytime, when yellowjackets are entering and exiting the nest opening.

If the nest entrance can be located – typically underground in an abandoned rodent burrow, beneath rocks or landscape timbers, or in a stone wall or wall of a building – it often can be eliminated by applying an aerosol-type wasp and hornet spray into the nest opening.

Dust formulations (such as Sevin, Drione or DeltaDust) also are effective, provided that a hand-held duster is used to puff the insecticide into the nest opening.

A dry, empty liquid detergent bottle filled no more than halfway with dust and shaken before dispensing works fairly well in lieu of a commercial duster. A few pebbles or marbles added to the bottom of the bottle prevents the dust from caking. Dusts tend to be more effective than aerosols when the nest, itself, is located some distance from the entrance hole, as often occurs when yellowjackets construct nests in wall voids or deep within abandoned animal burrows.

Treatment should be performed at night, when most of the yellowjackets are in the nest and less active. Pinpoint the nest opening during the daytime, so you will remember where to direct your treatment after dark. Approach the nest slowly and do not shine the beam of your flashlight directly into the nest entrance as this may startle the wasps; instead, cast the beam to the side to illuminate the nest indirectly. If possible, place the light on the ground rather than in your hand. As with hornets, yellowjackets are extremely aggressive when the nest is disturbed. It’s often prudent to refer homeowners to a professional pest control firm, particularly when access to the nest is difficult.

Wasp, hornet and yellowjacket stings can be life-threatening to persons who are allergic to the venom. People who experience extensive swelling, hives, dizziness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, wheezing or similar symptoms of allergic reaction should seek medical attention immediately. Itching, pain and localized swelling can be reduced with antihistamines and an ice pack.

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