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Two adult wasps side-by-side. The left is black and yellow and is resting on a green leaf. The right is black, yellow and burnt orange in color and is resting on a piece of wood.

Wasp Activity Is Ramping Up

With their distinctive black and yellow stripes and tendency to hang out in groups, wasps receive attention no matter the time of year. As the weather warms up and spring progresses, you may notice more wasp activity in your yard or around your house.

Two insects. The left is a wasp with a dark head, reddish brown thorax (the segment behind the head), and a black and yellow banded abdomen. The right is a hornet with a yellow head, dark brown thorax (the segment behind the head), and a brown and yellow banded abdomen.

No, It’s Not a Murder Hornet.

By now, you’ve probably read headlines about the Asian giant hornets (aka “murder hornets”) that were spotted in Washington state and across the border in Canada. It is important to note that Asian giant hornets have only been confirmed in a small area of Washington and Canada. These wasps have not been observed in South Dakota or our neighboring states.

Teardrop shaped tick with a dark brown body and legs and an elongate white patch behind its head.

Ticks Becoming Active in South Dakota

The arrival of spring in South Dakota means warmer weather and more outdoor activities. However, it also brings an increase in tick activity.

Black insect with a white spot on the back and orange tipped legs and antennae.

A fly? A hornet? Nope, it’s a sawfly!

This spring, there have been multiple reports of people seeing large fly-like insects in their yards. These insects are sawflies, and all reports thus far have been the elm sawfly (Cimbex americana).

Two dandelions side by side. The left has a bee foraging on it. The right has a hover fly foraging on it..

Why Those Dandelions in Your Yard Aren’t So Bad

While research has shown that pollinators, specifically honey bees, can’t survive on dandelion pollen alone, this doesn’t mean that the dandelions aren’t still important for pollinators.

A bee pollinating a flower.

Pollinators Party

In this lesson, participants will learn how plants reproduce and how to identify pollinators that help plants.

Black, yellow, and brown wasp in a clear container

Huge Wasps on My Tree! No, Those Still Aren’t Murder Hornets.

Another insect that has been mistaken for the Asian giant hornet (also known by its media-popularized name of ‘murder hornet’) is the horntail wasp. Horntail wasps are wood-boring insects that are harmless to humans, as they do not have venom and cannot sting.

Two mosquitoes, the one on the left being darker in color and the one on the right having a white band on its extended mouthpart. The white band is indicated with a red circle drawn over the picture.

Will Mosquitos Be an Issue During This Summer?

Although it may seem like mosquitos won’t be an issue this year due to drought conditions, it is important to remember that they don’t require large bodies of water to reproduce. Mosquitos can utilize standing bodies of water, small puddles or even stagnant water in containers or old tires.

Young woman applying insect repellant before an evening hike.

Enjoying the Outdoors Without Tick and Mosquito Bites

Outdoor activities seem extra inviting this time of year, and many people are already enjoying the long days and warmer temperatures. Ticks and mosquitoes share the outdoors with us, but there are things you can do to prevent bites from both.

A large wasp on a pink flower.

Giant Wasps Are Invading My Yard! No, They Still Aren’t Murder Hornets.

Every year we receive multiple reports of giant wasps that seem to invade yards and gardens. These wasps aren’t the same as the so-called "murder hornets," but are actually cicada killer wasps.