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Friday, September 6. 2019
In a lifetime spent outdoors, I never knew that Yallowjackets stung. I just thought they bit. They only bothered me when getting in the way of my hamburger.
I've been bitten by them, but never stung.
Here's the wiki on these small wasps.
Here's some info from Healthline:
The yellowjacket is one of the most menacing insects known to man. These brightly colored wasps possess a fiery sting and bite seemingly out of proportion to their size. Yellowjackets are not 'bees', and they're definitely not friendly. So what makes them so dangerous?
1. They're aggressive. Yellowjackets are more aggressive than other stinging insects such as wasps, hornets, mud daubers or bees.
2. They can sting AND bite. Since yellowjackets don’t lose their stinger, they can sting numerous times, and will do so unprovoked. In fact, they usually bite your flesh to get a better grip as they jab their stinger into your skin.
3. They're defensive. Yellowjackets vigorously defend their nests. They will assign a "guard" to stand watch at the nest opening and alert the colony to a threat. Swarm attacks can occur when someone accidentally steps in, hits, or even comes too close to a nest. Attacks of hundreds of yellowjackets from underground nests can also be triggered by ground vibrations – thus, mowing lawns can be hazardous during the late summer season when colonies are large.
4. They sting you for no reason. Even if you're minding your own business and nowhere near a nest, yellowjackets don't care -- they'll sting you anyway!
5. They're scavengers. Yellowjackets are a common pest at picnics and other outdoor activities. They scavenge for meat and sweet liquids, which brings them into frequent contact with humans with ample opportunity to sting. (See #4.)
6. Their sting packs a punch. For people who are allergic, one yellowjacket sting can be deadly. But even if you don't have an allergic reaction, the sting is plenty painful. "Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue..." is how entomologist Justin Schmidt, creator of the "Schmidt Sting Pain Index", described a yellowjacket sting!
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Oh man, these are NOT the harmless yellowjackets that used to land on our food at picnics. These live in the ground and will fly up and sting your bare legs just for fun. You will think you've been shot it hurts so bad. There will be no "fight or flight" question, you're gonna' run for your life. That's how I learned NEVER to wear short pants here in the woods of WNC.
One of my employees once got stung by a yellow jacket while in the third floor of the building. Apparently it got in through the air conditioning makeup air and was thoroughly unhappy by the time it reached the office...
Thanks for posting and including the details. I’m not allergic, but I did step on a nest a few weeks ago while landscaping and got bit/stung in 5 locations. They hurt worse than any other bee sting, and the pain and itching lasted for two full weeks. A landscaping buddy pours gasoline down the holes on his farm and lights them on fire. While I don’t like interfering much with nature, I have to admit I’m a bit angry at these little guys and looking for ways to reduce the risk of a repeat attack on my family.
I have a bee's nest under my front porch, they come and go as bee's do. It seems we've got a sort of armistice, no uncalled for stinging and no need for chemical warfare. So far so good.
Bees are generally not as aggressive as wasps. If you leave them alone, they'll usually return the compliment. Now these yellowjackets...
I watched a pack of these guys take down a grasshopper, butcher it, and fly away with the parts one quiet afternoon. It was quiet enough I could hear the crunching as they cut him up. The yellowjacket that took the thorax was over gross, he kept bouncing off the ground as he tried to fly away.
What species of yellowjacket? Here in Oregon there are yellowjackets & I have no problems chasing them off & destroying their nests around my house.
I swat at them with my hand & have never been bitten or stung.
Early and mid year yellow jackets can be somewhat nest defensive but are generally in the nest building stage. By late summer and early fall the nest is maximized with a lot of soldiers available for defense, which as noted can be aroused by close approach. My experience is yellow jacket stings hurt a good bit and keep on hurting for ~12 hours. While clearing brush once I got stung by a red wasp and it hurt for maybe an hour.
Yellowjackets in Northern California were gnarly. Sometimes you couldn't eat anything with meat or fruit outside because they would swarm you. Makes barbecues real problematic when they are around.
I hate yellow jackets! If there is a reason for them, I don't know it and further more, I don't care. I'd like them to be extinct.
I have been stung by them many times but had no idea they bite too! When I find a nest in the ground, I pour a cup of gasoline down the hole. That's supposed to be enough but I can't help myself. I drop a match in it and watch them burn!
Did I say I hated them?
We've had yellow jacket nests by our front door and never had a problem with them. They just buzzed right past our heads.
Yet on a trip to Washington State, we were on a paved, city trail and were viciously attacked by a tiny version of yellow jackets.
I guess you never quite know what the attitude of an animal will be.
One of these bad boys stung me when I was six, and triggered an allergic reaction that cause my whole foot to swell and turned septic (red streak up the leg, etc.). I had to undergo years of shots later for the allergies.
To be fair, I and some friends had found a nest - in the ground - and were slinging rocks and pouring water into it. So I guess I asked for it ... but I still remember over 50 years later how much it hurt. Far worse than any bee or wasp sting I have ever gotten.
I have to wonder if somebody is confusing sweat bees with yellow jackets. Which is kind of like confusing a teddy bear with a grizzly bear. If you're ever out bush-hogging and run over a yellow jacket nest, you might be surprised to learn that you can outrun deer and antelope and gazelles and several species of sports cars. You might also need a new tractor because you're not going to challenge a gang of yellow jackets over whose tractor it is - if they decide it's theirs now, just let it go, man.
I was weed whacking down by our creek one day and must have hit a yellowjacket nest. They came after me with a vengeance. Threw m Echo down and ran all the way up to the house. They were even attaching the running weed whacker. Since then I see them every summer, but none of the super aggressive mass attach stuff. Of course, unbeknownst to me, I was destroying their home.
Tuesday I was digging out an old stonecrop plant the needed dividing. Second shovel into the ground I start wondering why I was in so much pain. I run to the middle of the yard and my shorts were covered in yellow jackets, the ones on my shirt were hammering me. Shucked my shorts off right in the middle of the yard (had boxers on too) once I figured out how to do it without grabbing those damned bees along with my shorts and ran for the house. Anna counted 24 good size welts, and they hurt. After a cold shower, a warm epsom salt bath, some Advil and antibiotic cream they still hurt.
A half hour after the attack I looked out in the yard and my shorts still were half-covered in bees. Revenge was mine, and swift. A whole can of foaming yellow jacket spray did them in. I took some little yellow jacket heads and put them on spikes around the massacre site to let any stragglers know who came out on top.
When I was a kid, I stuck my nose too close to a paper wasp nest. Suddenly I was attacked.
Total 35 stings, 17 on my face.
After that, a single bee or wasp sting doesn't feel all that dramatic.
For what it is worth, around here we have trouble with them fairly routinely. Mowing the lawn is an activity which requires careful attention... My brother likes to go out to the nest at night or in the early morning and leave a running shop vac next to the entrance, as the yellow jackets come and go they get sucked up. Takes about a day and they're all gone. I prefer a clear glass mixing bowl upended on top of the hole. Once you get it in place you can work around that area and they can't get to you. Since they can't forage, the whole nest dies. It takes a few days. Both cases no fire, no chemicals.
I share #11's outlook on yellow jackets. When encountered I
contribute to their extinction.
Twice ended up running for my life after stomping yellow jacket nests. They got me 4-5 times in both incidents, but I was pretty fast in those days, so it could have been worse. The pain and swelling lasts about a week for me, so I think I'm pretty reactive to their venom. Probably wouldn't take much more to get a systemic reaction. Yellow jackets are the worst, way more aggressive than paper/mud wasps and even the hornets that build the big paper nests.
Every sting I've gotten around here has been a yellowjacket. Luckily I don't react much, but the initial pain will definitely get your attention and make you yell "ouch!" They'll defend a next aggressively out to 10 feet or so. I run into them while painting and weeding. We have tons more bees than yellowjackets, but the bees never bother me at all; I can work right in among them while gardening. The beehives apparently are large affairs far away from the house, while the yellowjacket nests are little bitty things here, there, and everywhere, each staffed with half a dozen or more guys with an attitude.
We just had a yellowjacket invasion in our house. They built a nest in the dormer and ate away at the sheet rock until the paint crumbled when our son touched it. Fortunately I’m a beekeeper and have a suit so I was able to plug the hole with cardboard and duct tape. The exterminator killed them with spray a few days later. Had I not had the suit we’d have lost our house for the three days it took to get him here. When the contractor took it out for the repair a few days after that I saw the nest and it was the size of a football.
Always check your life jacket for yellowjackets, before putting it on. Ow is not the word.