Updated July, 2013
As many as 100 people will die this year from yellowjacket stings. Even if you have been stung in the past and suffered no ill effects, it is not a guarantee that you will not suffer a bad reaction in the future.
I have written about my yellowjacket encounters in the past. My original post can be read here.
My experienced began on a beautiful summer evening in ’08 when I was suddenly attacked by yellowjackets. There was no warning or indication of what was about to happen. Although I had been stung in the past, I had never experienced a severe reaction. This time was different.
What happened in ’09 was even more severe than the year before. My body’s reaction to the stings was swift and immediate. I barely made it into the house; 911 had to called. I cannot forget the feeling of suddenly losing control of my body or the felling of helpless of something beyond my control. I will always have to keep an Epi Pen nearby during the months when yellowjackets reappear.
Summer is a time for picnics in the back yard, at the beach, etc. and these critters are always around…usually near the food and drinks. Yellowjackets take no prisons, unlike bees, they can sting repeatedly. Don’t let your family and friends fall victim.
Be pro-active and consider these recommendations:
- Start looking for nestsnow, before they establish themselves. Once established, they are very difficult to get rid of. I had a professional treat the area four times with different kinds of insecticide eradicators, including a “natural” one that had little effect. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check your lawn and yard every so often throughout the spring & summer months.
- What am I looking for? The signs of any swarming activity with insects flying in and out or seeming to disappear into the ground. This is from Ohio State University:
Life Cycle and Habits
Yellowjackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late April or early May, select a nest site and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-June, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense. From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 to 15,000 cells in August and late September. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter.
- Remember, yellowjackets normally build nests underground; so look at the base of trees, under piles of pine straw and bushes that provide protection. They can build nests in your lawn. There are hundreds of stories of people getting stung while mowing their lawns. They can also build nests in odd places, including the inside of a home. There’s an on line video of just such a nest.
- Invest in some traps. I place yellowjacket traps in my front and back yards. I have successfully use a product called WHY (wasps, hornets, yellowjackets) from Rescue. This product works and the earlier you get it out the better. Remember you want to take down the Queen before the colony gets established. More info here.
- Review the information provided in this post and elsewhere. In particular go the Epi Pen website and educate yourself and your family. There is an excellent video on how to use the Epi Pen and many associates topics and issues.
- INFORM OTHERS – Share this information with family and friends. This could be in the form of an email, or you could ask to have a mention of this in your school bulletin, or church bulletin (or other place of worship) and where you work. Tell others, you could save someone’s life.
More yellowjacket pictures, up close and personal!