Wasp rescue. Now what?

I found a hibernating queen yellowjacket on a log someone was going to burn, so I rescued it and put it in a container in my fridge.
Now what? How can I ensure her survival?

Is it a queen? There is no point preserving a worker or a drone.

Anyway, I see little point rescuing such common insects. I found a yellowjacket hidden in my boot last weekend and it still perodically hurts.

I see no point in not rescuing it. Workers and drones don’t hibernate and I think it’s a queen because it looks like a queen, not a worker or a drone. (I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure)
Shake your boots out before putting them on.

These wasps are my favorite pesticide. Very effective at keeping caterpillars down to reasonable levels.


I know little about wasps, but your fridge is not the environment she’s adapted to, so I’d say wait until the outside temperature is about the same and then put her back out in a protected place similar to where you found her.


She’s in the fridge because she is hibernating and I need to keep her from waking up. I want to put her back outside, but I can’t just throw her out and expect her to live.

I found her on a log that was about to be burned in a fireplace.
returning her is not an option. I don’t know where the log was harvested.

The real question is how to return her to the wild so that she has a chance of survival and doesn’t wake up until the right season

basically I’m still not sure how or where

I recommend first making sure it is not in a part of the fridge that gets below freezing where it will die (parts of my fridge get icy) secondly uploading a picture to iNat where experts will identify it to make sure it is not an invasive species (post a link to the obs and I’ll ID it within the day) and then if it is not an invasive put it in a similar position to how you found it on a log in the woods (or whatever the local natural space is, I don’t know if you are in a forested biome)

This rescue is only feasible if you have a substantial amount of woods/natural space on your property, you do not want a nest of yellowjackets in your yard, or near your neighbors yards, or other places people use, and at least where I am it is illegal to add organisms to public natural spaces

EDIT: Just found the observation, you already posted it. This has been IDed as a Western Yellowjacket, which is native to your area, but the antenna is blocking the easiest field mark to ID, and the main lookalike to the Western Yellowjacket is the German Yellowjacket, which is a problematic invasive, so I would suggest posting a photo showing the top of the head clearly, the Western has a yellow ring around the eye, the German has a break in this ring at the topmost part of the head. For example compare these images https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/33047939


What an interesting task. I would maybe look into tips and tricks how to overwinter butterfly chrysalises and mason bee cocoons. There are plenty of websites on those topics, while not a whole lot of people are considering overwintering wasp queens. I imagine the process would be similar though.

1 Like

I would caution that the biology of a larva and adult may be very different, as well as these being very different species


I added pictures to my observation. I don’t have any problem with wasp nests in my yard. Maybe this will evict the invasive German yellowjackets. (identified by an entomologist professor at the university)
I have very few insect pest problems in my garden because of the paper wasps. I just keep them from building too close to the house or neighbors fence. I’m the only person I know of who has successfully transferred a nest.
I found out where the log came from and could put her back in the area. I don’t think there are any legal issues because she was accidentally removed from the area and I would just be putting her back. People don’t realize how many insects these kill. they are the wolf of the insect world. A very necessary part of the web of life.

1 Like

That’s really cool that you transferred a nest, how did you do it?

Paper wasps are really good for plants, eating all the caterpillars that would otherwise eat the plants. I’ve had invasive cabbage white caterpillars ruin most of my garden, If only there were paper wasps around that year

The reason I said you may not want these in your yard, is because unlike paper wasps Western Yellowjackets nest in holes in the ground, making nests easy to step on by mistake, and yellowjackets are generally much more aggressive than paper wasps, Some yellowjackets will swarm you and anyone near you if you disturb a nest, and chase you and the other person in a swarm for hundreds of yards, stinging repeatedly, I’ve had this happen with Eastern Yellowjackets, and I’ve heard that German are less aggressive, while Bald Faced are really aggressive and Common Aerial are said to be among the most aggressive of all, but I’m not sure about the specific behavior of Western

I don’t get stung. I don’t know why.
I have a large number of paper wasps and those are the ones I have transplanted. The ground dwelling ones just get left alone or, if necessary, “evicted”. Sometimes I’m not clear, how I say things.
words are not my best talent, even though I have plenty of them.
I capture the nest (paper wasp) at night, in a paper cup (or bucket). I cool them down in the fridge until they are slow and then glue the nest in place. I then place the entre container in the new location and leave it alone. they usually destroy the container but stay with the nest. Building new attachments.
I don’t know where the German nest is…
one of the paper wasps (I don’t know what kind, but builds hanging paper nests)

1 Like

Polistes dominula, the European Paper Wasp, another invasive species (but one that is good for gardens)

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.