Huge wasp colony closes Ashland park after 3 residents stung

They are among the world’s least-cuddly creatures — and about a thousand of them are calling an Ashland Park home. They are wasps.

“About a week ago we had a couple show up and it’s kind of exploded from there,” said Becca Solomon, the town’s Conservation Agent.

What seems odd about this huge colony is that diversity abounds. It includes several species of yellow jackets, as well as bald-faced hornets, paper wasps, and mud daubers. At the moment, all are roped behind yellow tape because steering clear of wasps is a prudent thing to do.

“They’re naturally territorial, so we always expect them to need a little more personal space,” said Solomon. “They’re exhibiting some aggressive behavior. They’re going to fly around your face like a warning — like a dog growls before they bark.”

It’s unclear whether the three residents stung so far heeded the wasp warning. What concerns the town is that with school reopening, more small children will be using the library, which is just across the street. Because when a wasp attacks — it can be relentless.

“They do not lose their stinger, unlike bees,” Solomon said. “And they will keep coming back for more.”

As to why the wasps chose this patch of park to gather — it’s unclear.

“It could be just a good year for them,” said Solomon. “We’ve had a lot of rain. We also just redid a lot of work in the park. This landscaping is largely new. And they’re naturally curious creatures.”

They also can be potentially dangerous creatures. Hally Quinones, who lives nearby, worries about her husband, who is allergic to bee stings.

“You open my door they fly right in the house,” she said. “They’re just everywhere, you can’t even go outside. Have a cup of coffee they go right on your coffee. And then we get in the car and there’s one on the window. It’s like we can’t win... how do we get rid of them?”

They’re trying.

Ashland’s sprayed the area with a “green” pesticide — that didn’t work. Now the town is trying Yellow Jacket Traps, hung from the trees.

“I don’t know if it’s this particular type of tree that’s attracting them,” said Roy Correia, Ashland’s Deputy Director of Public Works. “There are so many here, so many varieties. Just unbelievable. So this is a new one for us.”

Why not just kill them?

“They are all native species,” said Solomon. “They all have a purpose in our environment.”

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