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Queens Chronicle

Are wasps near PS 174 a reason to worry?

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

The latest buzz going around the upscale Crescents section of Rego Park concerns the rather ominous-looking nests which have appeared in the area, with at least three right on the outskirts of PS 174. Are they homes to hornets or plain ol’ everyday yellow jackets? Should they be removed or left alone?

Well, they certainly look like hornets’ nests, typically inverted tear-drop-shaped, volleyball-sized structures attached to trees just out of human reach. But some of the insects seen entering and exiting appear to have the coloring that suggests something else.

Upon inspection of one of the nests, nestled in a tree above a stop sign at the corner of Alderton Street and Ellwell Crescent, across the street from his home, Mike Kaff said, “Those are definitely bees.”

But Adam Metzger used a spray specifically designed to combat hornets’ nests to put an end to the activity in the one in front of his house on Dieterle Crescent just off 65 Drive.

Judging by the distinctive nests, it appears the insects are bald-faced hornets, technically a type of wasp closely related to yellow jackets. And they have an attitude like that of the yellow jacket — disturb them and they will sting.

For Metzger, who has lived in the area since 1976, the nest is nothing new. It has been there since the summertime, he said. In years past he had seen nests on bushes in the front and at the side of his house.

“Nobody had any complaints,” he said of the current nest, which rests on a tree on the border between his home and his neighbor’s. Of the nest’s occupants, he suggested they didn’t seem to be bothering anybody. “They come in and they go out,” he said.

But with his house being only doors away from the elementary school, he was concerned for the safety of the children walking by.

“I figured before anything happens ... so, I sprayed it. Whatever’s in there is dead,” he said.

He doesn’t see any need to have anyone come to remove the nest, as “it will come down when the leaves fall.”

Gabriel Avraham, who has lived on Alderton Street for eight years, looked up at one of the nests and said, “It’s dangerous. The school, the entrance is here. Who knows? The kids will throw stones. They don’t know what is going on.”

Avraham said he had recently seen what he described as “big bees” making holes in the wooden banister outside his home. He said that simply stuffing the holes with paper has been sufficient to quell the creatures’ activities.

His neighbor Kaff, who seemed to have a greater than average knowledge of insects, owing, he said, to his friendship with a professional landscaper, was surprised that anyone would make an issue over the “hornets.” He also bemoaned the dearth of bees in the area.

“Normally we see hundreds of bees in the spring. This year, maybe three or four” around his lilacs, he said. “There’s no bees in the area.”

Kaff, who has lived in the area all his life, recalled, “We had a lot more bees when I was growing up. In my whole life I’ve been stung by one — and that was a yellow jack.”

Crossing the street to get a close look, he said, “That’s a helluva nest. I wouldn’t do anything about it. Bees don’t attack you unless you bother them.

“Destroying the nest would be a bad idea,” he said, worried for safety. “If they move it within one quarter mile, they should be fine. I just hope we don’t have a storm that knocks it down.”

The Low family has lived a block away for the past several years. Mother Karen, out with husband Jeff and their two young children, both of whom attend the school, for an afternoon of bicycle riding, said, “We haven’t had any problems with the bees.”

None of the school officials contacted, including members of the teaching, security and custodial staffs, or parents of students, had heard of any youngsters being stung by the insects.

Estimates indicate that in the United States alone, hornets and related insects such as wasps kill hundreds of people each year, the result of allergic reactions to their venom.

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