If you've had some hairy encounters with yellow jackets in Portland recently, you are not alone.
According to a Metro inter-office email thread obtained by WW, this is the time of year that yellow jacket queens leave their nests, abandoning hungry, buzzing youths to lawless anarchy.
The thread began with one Metro employee, Sofía Basto, relating a backyard horror story.
"Are you having issues with yellow jackets lately?" Basto asked in Wednesday email to colleagues. "I thought my newly found backyard problem was an isolated incident until I started seeing boards online about how they are everywhere this summer in the Pacific Northwest area! Today I've heard from at least three Metro staff who've gotten stung lately."
Basto's query received a fascinating response about yellow jacket behavior, and the devolution of Portland nests into "self-absorbed anarchy," from Elaine Stewart, a senior natural resource scientist with Metro's conservation program.
"Yellow jacket 'society' is governed by a queen that keeps things in order via pheromones," Stewart responded to Basto. "At this time of year, the queens have raised their last young for the year and many have left their nests. Without strong 'instruction' from a queen, the other wasps' behavior disintegrates into self-absorbed anarchy."
Stewart continues: "They fly anywhere, looking for meat to eat for themselves (as opposed to taking it back to feed larvae in the nest). They are out of control, hungry and completely lawless."
Stewart's sage advice? If you see a yellow jacket in August or September, run.
"Avoid them because of what they are," Stewart writes, "[a] hybrid between teenager and Walking Dead zombie."