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Are Yellow Jackets Wasps Or Bees?
Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012 by eNature
Western Yellow Jacket
Western Yellow Jacket
Southern Yellow jacket
Southern Yellow jacket
© Opo Terser

It’s summer, and the Yellow jackets are back in force.

Should we be alarmed?

Well, it helps to know a little about these interesting creatures. 

It turns out that Yellow jackets are a type of paper wasp.  Paper wasps get their name because they build structures out of a special paper made by adding saliva to chewed-up plant fibers.

Found Coast to Coast
In different parts of the country people call them hornets and meat bees, too. Whatever their name, yellow jackets can be found across the United States. In fact, each region usually has at least one species that nests above ground and one species that nests below ground. Both types share similar life histories.

Subjects Of The Queen
Yellow jackets, like some species of bees, ant wasps, and termites, live in colonies where many workers serve a single egg-laying queen. The colonies begin to form in early spring, when fertile females emerge from the sheltered locations where they spent the winter and search for nest sites.

At first the nest is just a spherical shell the size of a golf ball enclosing a honeycomb structure where the female lays five or six eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, which the mother then nourishes with regurgitated insects. When the larvae turn into adults, they assume all the work roles: foraging, feeding larvae, enlarging the nest, and defending the nest. The female that started the colony—the queen—never leaves the nest again. Its only responsibility now is to produce more eggs.

Through the spring and summer, the colony grows. The nest is enlarged as the workers add tiers to the honeycomb-like brood chambers. The outer shell is built up, too, and by mid-summer the nest resembles a gray paper volleyball (some nests reach basketball-sized proportions). These nests can become quite conspicuous, hanging from trees or suspended from the eves of buildings. As for the species that nest underground, their homes usually begin in abandoned rodent burrows that are further excavated as the nest grows. The nest structure, though, is the same as those above ground.

Summer Is A “Bizzy” Time
Once the nest reaches full size, the queen starts to lay the eggs that develop into the males and females that will leave the colony, mate, and begin the cycle again the following year. All the workers and the year-old queen, meanwhile, will die. It’s during this time, middle to late summer, that the workers get defensive. They’re focused on protecting the new males and virgin queens within, for these represent the total reproductive output of the colony.

It’s also during this time that we have most of our interactions with yellow jackets. Many species begin to forage on carrion to feed the growing larvae, and this brings them to our outdoor meals. But even yellow jackets at picnic tables are unlikely to sting people unless they’re physically threatened. Their aggressive behavior is reserved mostly for defending the nest. Thus if a walkway near your house takes you close to a hanging nest or an underground nest entrance, you may be attacked for passing too close or for lingering too long in a certain spot. A nest that was not previously a cause for concern becomes a menace when the yellow jackets change their zone of tolerance.

What To Do If You Have An Unfortunate Encounter
The best solution is to avoid the area for a month or so. When that’s not possible, the nest may have to be removed or destroyed.

But don’t approach this task lightly. Spraying with water, burying, or otherwise trying to tamper with a nest will likely result in repeated stings. Seek the help of a pest-control professional. It’s worth the price.

Have you seen any Yellow Jackets this summer?  What did you do?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!



Silly question, but what do yellowjackets do? What is their role in the grand scheme?  Bees obviously pollinate and, in doing so, are critical to the development of many types of flower and fruit.  Do wasps play a similar role?

Posted by Brian on 7/20

Dozens of yellowjackets have been “swimming” and drinking from my bird baths and a small patio fountain during the day, during our recent heatwave/drought. I walked among them, filling the fountain & birdbath & watering adjacent flowerpots, and while they flew around me, none stung me. They were more interested in “swimming” (or floating—that’s what it looked like) on the surface of the water.

Posted by Madalin on 7/20

We get ground wasps every year (we live in rural North Carolina).  Every year I get stung from unwittingly mowing over a nest!  I love & appreciate all of nature, but these creatures not so much.  I was laid up all last weekend from getting about 12 stings.  These guys swarm you when threatened, and only soaking yourself with water seems to get them off quickly.  I wish they’d take up residence next door instead of my yard.

Posted by Richard on 7/20

As a matter of fact, wasps of many kinds are excellent pollinators.  I would imagine yellow jackets are, as well, though it may not be their main role in nature.  Some wasps keep other insect populations down by laying eggs inside caterpillars and the like.  I don’t think yellow jackets do that, but I’m sure they have an important role to provide.  Maybe someone can give us more details, as I’m curious, too.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

I’ve had my run ins with these litte buggers. Here in Texas, they find our front and back porch ceilings a favorite site to build their nests. I’ve found the best way to deal with getting rid of the hive is to 1) get to it before the hive is bigger than a golf ball 2) buy a can of wasp or hornet spray. These aerosol cans are designed to shoot a steady stream of insecticide for a long distance. 3) do the deed at night when all the wasps are at the nest, otherwise, those who were away during the day foraging return and can be a little upset that you evicted mama and their kin.

Do not stand under the hive or invite the kids to watch.

If the nest is bigger than a golf ball then it gets a little dicey. When you spray them you need to hit all of them and saturate the hive for it to be effective. If you’re not confident you have the courage to stand there and spray at ‘em for more than a minute best you get a pro or a braver soul to help.

Posted by Alan on 7/20

While yellow jackets can sting and harm humans, they are an invaluable source of pest control in gardens and on farms. Yellow jackets are predators of crop-damaging pests like flies and caterpillars, helping farmers and gardeners to protect their plants and save a considerable amount of money in damage.

Read more: About Yellow Jackets |

Posted by Blaine on 7/20

Yesterday, my 9 year old son was stung 10 times by yellowjackets.  We did not know about the nest.  He still does not feel good today.  He has several large, red areas where he was stung.  His finger is still swollen.  He does not like yellowjackets.

Posted by Deanna on 7/20

Yellow jackets do not pollinate as bees do, however, they do eat insects & insect larvae that tend to damage plants and food sources.  They also help to clean up by eating overripe and rotting fruit as well as dead and decaying animals.

Posted by Raydonna on 7/20

I use the yellow jacket trap. Once they enter they can not escape and eventually die.
They were nesting in the soil under my wooden steps on the side of a hill. The dogs got bitten while running up the stairway and then the kids got bit afterwards.

The best and only time to kill them is at sunset with the spray. Then set the yellow jacket trap to get the stragglers.

Posted by jim szud on 7/20

For ground or burrow nests, place a clear glass bowl or pie pan over the hole at night.  Weight it with a rock to get a good seal between the ground and the rim of the vessel.  Leave it there for several weeks.  The entire colony will die, for they will not develop another exit burrow, they will just keep trying to fly through the glass.

Posted by gary brierton on 7/20

Glad to know about the predation work being done by yellow jackets.  I find that unless a critter is an exotic, it usually has a definite place in the natural community, and a job of some sort.  On thinking back, I realized I see other wasps on my flowers more often than yellow jackets, however if they are eating various caterpillars in the garden or fields, they are probably doing at least a bit of pollination as they hunt, even if inadvertently.  But I’m glad to learn that their primary function is pest control. 

That doesn’t mean I want their nests near my doorway, or along well traveled pathways, but at least it lets me know that as I suspected, they do have a role to play, and it is incumbent upon we humans to make sure we don’t cross paths very often.  Especially if we have children, pets, or possible allergies to bees and wasps.  With a bit of precaution & common sense, bees, wasps, and humans should be able to co-exist without harm, at least most of the time.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

while i have no problem with them being in and around my garden or house here in rural wv hitting a nest under the ground with a weed eater or parking a 4 wheeler on top of a hidden underground nest at my fishing spot at the pond, causes great agro and pain.  i have found it nesessary to go back at night after marking the entrance from a safe distance, pouring about a pint of gas into the hole, leave a small trail and light that.  there is a nice little explosion under the ground. problem over.

Posted by Mik Wright on 7/20

what are hornets?  are they a species of wasp, too?  I fear them the most - they are horrible creatures——

Posted by Marge Gersbach on 7/20

We had a couple of yellow jacks in our 2nd floor bathroom , but we were not too concerned until every time we went into the bathroom we were greeted by a couple of the rather ominous buzzers.  A little investigation found that large numbers of them were entering a hole in the brick pointing just below the bathroom window.  After intially thinking we should get rid of them, professionally if need be, we did some research on their role in the ecosystem and decided to let them alone.  None have come into the house in 2 days.  As long as the situation doesn’t become dangerous to us, we’ll wait out the summer.  We aren’t sure how they got in.  Hopefully some misdirected individuals got in through the loosely fitting window, not via the space between the walls where the nest must be. Some of them appear to have a more difficult time finding the entrance than others.

Posted by Dale Lenat on 7/20

If I encounter a underground nest in my yard I back off and carefully watch, maybe with binoculars, untill they settle down.  I observe exactly where the entrance is located and when all is well I very carefully approach the entrance close enough to lay a marker.  Then I leave.  I return well after dark and pour a quart or so of gasoline into the entrance and drop a match.  I have never seen one emerge from the entrance. It is easy to see because the vegetation is all burned away.  If there is a danger of fire spreading just pour in the gasoline and forget about lighting it.  I like to light it just because I enjoy watching these devils burn.

Posted by RKEY on 7/20

This post is directed to Alan above who had problems with the insects making nests on his porch ceilings. Paint the ceilings of your porches a true Robin’s egg blue and wasps will cease making nests there.  While I can’t vouchsafe that this will work for yellow jackets it has worked for years by discouraging ordinary wasps here in Georgia from building nests on our porch ceilings.

Posted by Donna Williams on 7/20

Two years ago yellow jackets invaded my home. We were not aware that somehow they found an entrance on the roof of the house and made their way into the attic. They chewed a hole through the floor, which was the ceiling of a storage room between two bedrooms. When I started having yellow jackets in my bedroom as they were searching for a way toward the light, I knew something had to be done, and I called the exterminator.
I rather not have yellow jackets around; there are lots of other beneficial insects in our garden, and I prefer the adorable praying mantis. At least they kill the black widow spiders.

Posted by erna ruben on 7/20

I had a Norwegian mother-in-law some years back, who said wasps/yellowjackets/bees have a highly developed sense of smell. She maintained that they knew the scents of the family nearby and wouldn’t sting. If a stranger came close, they stung them. Any truth to this?

Posted by Patricia Nipper on 7/20

We have a few varitities here in Eastern Washington some a little more aggressive than others but I have had the oppertunity to watch them and on accasion be stung by them. I have noticed the small yellow hornet that usually eats from your plate catch flies in mid air and bite the head off and have seen them on occassion fight with each other with the same results.  I have also had the oppertuntiy to watch the ones we call Bald Face Hornets much larger and black with a white face set on a branch over a garbage bag up while we were camping and they will wait for the small yellow ones then swoop down and kill them.  It gets to be a very interesting scene.

Posted by John on 7/20

Hate these bees.My sister almost died from being stung from yellow-jackets.We live in East Tenn and if we find a nest,we wait until its dark and either spray it with gasoline or pour gasoline down the hole in the ground

Posted by Marlene Denton on 7/20

Home Defense works very well and won’t destroy the soil.  I find a nest in the yard most every year; I watch for them when I mow.  Once found, I mark the location with a stick or rock, then go out after dark and up-end a bottle of HD.  Only had a problem one time.  I found the nest fairly late in the summer.  When I checked the next morning it looked like there had been an explosion.  It took 4 bags of topsoil to fill the hole!

Posted by Karen on 7/20

My husband knocked down a HUGE nest in the eaves of our roof directly over the deck this spring.  SInce then those that survived went looking for a new home and found one in my fire starter wood as we haven’t used any of it since we are in drought conditions this year. I put a large box over the wood container and with a small hole just big enough for the wasp spray nozzle and sprayed inside the box.  I didn’t get all of them because some had already flown out of their nest but I am hoping that all those inside are dead.  I am leaving the box over the wood container for a couple of days before removing it just to be on the safe side and then the whole box, wood and wood container are going into the garbage can w(with more spray just in case)

Posted by Penny on 7/20

While in Coastal Oregon was attacked by highly aggressive hirnets. They kept attacking even after many dozens od yards away. In the midwest, they never were as aggressive

Posted by Di on 7/20

Its so gratifying to read the comments of people concerned about ecology, and interested in the natural history of these wasps. It is also sobering to see how many people are willing to use toxic chemicals or gasoline as a 1st resort to solve a perceived problem. I hope there’s some way the latter group can begin to see the world from the perspective of the former.

Posted by Monica Flint on 7/20

If you get stung and you have ANY reaction that happens on both sides of your body—hives, itchy hands, bright red cheeks—you are allergic and must get to an ER as soon as possible. You will need to carry EpiPen. I have almost died on two occasions when stung by a single yellowjacket. I think every home medical kit should have an EpiPen.

Posted by Martha on 7/20

Personally, I almost NEVER use any chemicals in my garden.  Anything I pour onto the ground, I will find myself drinking in a few weeks.  In Florida, toxins percolate down through the soil and into wells and groundwater exceptionally fast.  So it’s a matter of my OWN health, in addition to my “live and let live” style of gardening. I have discovered that I can work right alongside bees and wasps all day long with no problems.  I don’t bother them, and they don’t bother me.  I know you have to be extra careful with pets, children and individuals with allergies, but in my garden, almost everything is welcome.  I do sweep away nests near my entry while they are small, and the wasps locate elsewhere quickly, with no further problems.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

Using gasoline is scary.  It is a good way to burn more than your eyebrows off!  If you have to use anything, try lighter fluid or kerosene. I prefer not to mess with them unless they want to live in my house with me or in my garden.  I live in the South and was raised with them around.  Generally if you don’t bug them, they won’t bug you.  They do tend to be more aggressive than most other wasps.

Posted by carol on 7/20

Another reason I hesitate to be spraying chemicals in my garden is because they kill the beneficial insects as well as pests.  I plant specifically to attract birds, bees, and butterflies, and I sure don’t want to use any chemicals that would harm them.  I often bring caterpillars into the back porch & raise them for release as butterflies and moths emerge.  So I have learned how to live with lots of varieties of insects, and only resort to handpicking the really destructive ones (like lubber grasshoppers).  The rest are pretty much a part of my whole gardening experience.  Not for everyone, perhaps, but it works for me.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

I have been told that carrying a dryer sheet in your pocket helps to keep the yellow jackets off.  Don’t know if it really works, but can’t hurt.  I use house-hold ammonia on a bee or wasp sting.  It takes the pain out right away and I don’t get swelling.  However, I don’t get serious allergic reactions to stings, just pain and swelling.
However, my poor dog was bitten on his mouth two weeks ago and got a bad reaction - the vet thought it was either wasp or rattlesnake.  The blood work showed it to probably be wasp.  Took him a week, pain killers and antihistamine to recover.

Posted by glenda on 7/20

I have found the most interesting plant at a local Farmers Market.  It is called an “American Pitcher Plant”. 
These plants attract and consume yellow jackets.  I have 3 large pitcher plants and love watching the yellow jackets eat the nectar on the rim of the pitcher and then crawl down the “shoot” to get more nectar, but they can’t crawl out.
The pitchers don’t attract honey bees because bees are looking for pollen, not nectar.
The pitcher plants are hardy, easy to care for and have made a noticeable dent in our yellow jacket population.

Posted by bettyL on 7/20

I had a nest right at the entrance to the back of my house. I called an exterminator and was told, “Sorry, you’re on your own”. It took two cans of Wasp and Hornet killer to get rid of them.

Posted by Gary on 7/20

Until we moved to Georgia, we’d never even heard of yellow jackets!  We moved in September, which I now know is the most aggressive time.  I put our female Burmese (kitty) out on her leash and she swatted a yellow jacket just like a fly.  She got stung and wouldn’t let me touch her paw for hours.  Later, I pulled weeds along the fence where they had a nest and they chased me to the house.  I have learned not to bother them and they don’t bother me.  Here they nest underground.

Posted by Theda Davis (Georgia) on 7/20

While I applaud all of you who have shared informative material regarding yellow jackets, I haven’t yet read anything similar to the situation we are encountering in KY.  On a daily basis, our deck area is swarming with bees/yellow jackets/wasps….all attracted to and drinking from our Hummingbird feeders.  They are so fierce in number and behavior that they are not allowing the sweet hummingbirds to actually stay, visit and drink from these feeders….and sad to say, this year we have rarely been visited due to this situation.  We have learned that there are a few neighbors in the vicinity who have bee hives and figure that they have something to do with the amount of bees we see daily.  I am all for protecting them and the work they provide to the environment, but find it distressing to have lost the ability to watch the fascinating hummingbirds that for years have provided us with so much entertainment.

Posted by Kimberly on 7/20

pouring gasoline down a wasp hole and lighting it might be fun, but the reality is the hole probably goes in a lateral direction just below the surface.  Unless you have a lot of clay in your soil, the gasoline will just percolate down through the soil, not the tunnel, missing the nest completely.

Posted by damian on 7/20

Just this last Monday I made 1 pass over the yellow jacket nest while mowing. Upon approaching the nest for another pass in that area of the yard fortunately I noticed the swarm above the nest entrance about 15 feet ahead of me. Long story,4 bad stings (2-face 1-each arm) 3 minor stings. Have had YJ nests in this same area in past years.
They are the most relentless attackers of any of the wasps that I know of. AND they can sting more than one time unlike honey bees and they lock onto clothing and have to be brushed off or smashed (best)to get them away from you. I had to smash many Monday after I had jumped off mower and ran about 100 ft. to front porch with many following me.

Posted by sidney on 7/20

Sidney, are you aware that they sell protective netting and shirts for beekeepers that would probably keep you from being stung while mowing?  I think if I had a recurring problem like yours in a particular area of my yard, I would definitely invest in some.  Especially the hats with netting to keep my face safe.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

Kimberly, I love hummers, too, and feed them regularly, but I sure wouldn’t describe them as sweet.  The males fight viciously with each other over feeders, often doing serious harm.  And they also eat a lot of insects, especially when nesting, as nectar is not a suitable growth food for young birds.  I have watched them catching bees, & imagine they would also eat wasps, so I’m guessing it must be the number of insects you have that discourages them.  Have you tried putting out more feeders at a distance from each other?  Sometimes that is all it takes to give hummers some space to themselves.  Just a thought.

Posted by Marcia on 7/20

The most efficient and effective way to use gasoline to destroy a yellow jacket nest is to also use a cloth rag.  I go out at night to a previously marked nest entrance, stuff a cloth rag down the hole, then leisurely pour gasoline on just the top of the rag.  The gasoline fumes kill the nest’s inhabitants, without fire or explosions or extensive residual damage to the surrounding environment.—Tom Reilly

Posted by Tom Reilly on 7/20

I have had two close encounters with yellow jackets nests. The first was when I unknowingly mowed over a ground nest, releasing a swarm of the insects. I don’t know how I did it, but I calmly walked away and the 100 feet or so back to the house. I was not stung.

The second encounter was only a few years ago. Again, I was mowing. Only this time, I disturbed a nest above ground that had been growing under a lawnchair I moved. Again, the yellow jackets began to swarm. I was only about 15 feet from the house. I was stung once in the back of the leg. My leg buckled from the sting. My father and I bought some Raid the next day and waited until night before we saturated the nest. Only a few survived, but they weren’t able to fly. We then saturated the area with water from a garden hose to dillute and counteract the Raid on the ground and to obliterate the nest. The yellow jackets never returned.

Posted by ryan on 7/20

We had some yellow jackets show up this spring under a deck we built.  I have animals and didnt want to spray toxic chemicals for their sake,ours, and the environment.  We found a dummy paper hive at the farm store and hung it over the spot where they were building their nest.  These aggressive and territorial insects, apparently would rather avoid competition from other wasps then stay and fight.  They disappeared soon after we hung it and havent seen them since.

Posted by DAve on 7/20

One way to deter the yellowjackets and wasps from using hummingbird feeders is to frequently move the feeders about fifteen or twenty feet.  The hummers will quickly spot the brightly colored feeders in their new locations, but the insects will continue to look for them at the old spot.

Posted by John T. on 7/20

Years ago I found a way to keep yellowjackets away from our table when we went outside to eat.  I get some hotdogs, cut them up and put them on the other side of our deck.  The y.j. eat their food, while we eat ours.
I am sorry to see the bee population is down in our area (California), but some do still show up.  The y.j. just buzz around our yard and don’t bother us.  Fortunately, we don’t have any nests so there are not too many.

Posted by Yolanda Leaird on 7/20

Here in Montgomery County Maryland we are required to put bottles, cans, etc. out for recycling.  Yellow jackets are the reason why I always wash those things before putting them in the recycling bin.

Posted by Thomas Stecher on 7/21

I had a nest ‘suddenly’ appear about 4” below the rear porch screen door. I found this out when coming into the house after work one day. Lo & Behold…some ‘guard’ yellow jackets ‘hovered around me a couple minutes…then went back into the little ‘hole’ below and the rest of the summer..I and other visitors were freely able to leave and enter while they flew in ( nearly constantly )a few inches below & to the left of the landing. I am firmly convinced that you people who get stung ( admittedly sometimes accidentally when mowing the lawn & the like ) SWAT at or do something aggressive, unfortunately & often by your own too quick instinctive reactions. A wasp that looks like a longer version of a yellow jacket that builds hornet style nests under eaves etc. I have had the same experience with them. Stay calm. Let them check you out and co-exist until fall when they fly away with the queen to die. When no activity, close the space via caulking etc.

Posted by Steve on 7/21

At night put a few teaspoons of Sevin dust into/over the hole. They will help carry it down into the nest.

Posted by Keith Shelton on 7/21

Years ago I was told by someone who should know that the local reaction to a yellow jacket sting was made worse because of high bacterial contamination from the carrion and garbage that they
feed on, and that first aid should include thorough washing with soap and water. Every August they get me at least once. So far only local reaction that sometimes is quite extensive.

Posted by Ira on 7/21

I was recently in the Upper Galilee, Israel participating in an Archaeological Dig, and while wielding a digging tool I was bitten by a yellow jacket/wasp.  Since this was a third bite by a wasp, the two previous ones with quite severe reactions (no throat tightening); I was relieved when the swelling was much less than any previous time.
I reside in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Posted by Marge on 7/21

A good way to treat a yellow jacket or wasp sting is to rub lemon juice or vinegar on the sting. The wasp venom is alkaline and the acid from the lemon juice or vinegar reduces the pain.

Posted by lcsm on 7/21

While visiting at South Lake Tahoe our 6 year old son got too close to a nest and was chased back to our cabin. Several got into the cabin so we closed the kids in a bedroom and went hunting the yg. To our surprise they had followed the kids into the bedroom, lol. They nest frequantly around our house and as long as they are not by entryways we leave them alone. I ‘rescue’ people with bees or wasps climbing on them by aproaching slowly and gently lifting them off with my finger. Have never been stung.

Posted by Anne on 7/21

As soon as I notice the start of a nest in an area where I need to go regularly, I will spray the nest with a commercial spray such as Ortho, etc.  They can very quickly build a nest under the edge of a trash can for instance, which can be a very unpleasant surprise when you go to move the trash can.  Spray early in the morning or at dusk when it is still cool.  I don’t like having to do this, but it’s either them or me.

Posted by Deb on 7/21

Many yeaars ago when we were young, one winter my husband brought into the house what he thought was a deserted hornet’s nest he found in a tree.  He hung it in a corner of our living room for a ‘decoration’. (whatever) After the nest warmed up the little creatures started leaving the nest.  Needless to say, we took it back outside.

Posted by Kathy on 7/21

My father got stung many many times when he disturbed a colony while remove a bush.  Many of the stings where around his hairline, and the results were almost fatal.  It is definitely not something an inexperienced person should tackle, or someone who is allergic.

Posted by Liz on 7/21

Thank you for all the information.  My volleyball size nest is in my compost bin.  Fruit and vegetable peals must be their food source.  I quickly open the lid throw in dinner, drop the lid back on and RUN. They swam through the vents to become a yellow cloud of buzzing.  Not a sting yet and I will continue to let it thrive because of their importance to us all.

Posted by Jane on 7/22

I would not recomend this to anyone of any age!  When I was a kid, my two sisters & I would get to play with another family of 10 kids.  We were country kids always looking for something to do.  We founds a bees nest on the ground.  It was so many years ago that I cannot tell you if it was wasp or yellow jackets.  What I can tell you is: we decided to throw rocks at this nest all at the same time to see what would happen.  We found out in a hurry!  We went tearing off down the dirt road with the bees chasing after us.  Somehow none of us got stung!  We must have been running very fast to avoid the stings!  Scared the daylight out of us!

Posted by Barb on 7/22

A few years ago, after unknowingly stepping on a jellow jacket’s nest while chasing a friend’s dogs, I received 12 stings - they went up and down inside my workout clothes.  My terrier/corgi dog (low to the ground) was absolutely covered with these rascals and they pursued us as we ran out of the woods.  Thankfully Benadryl was all either of us needed to recover.  A couple of months ago my dalmatian mix discovered a nest next to the path that we walk twice a day in our woods.  Before I realized what had happened three of my dogs and I were stung.  My neighbor, whose children had already run into this same nest before us, eradicated it.  I appreciate the part they play in nature - as long as they stay away from me.  They are vicious!

Posted by Brenda Williams on 7/22

Two years ago I ran my hedge trimmer too close to an unknown nest and was stung above my upper lip. Four hours later I was in urgent care with my face swollen beyond recognition.  A steroid shot helped me to a slow recovery. Eight months later I was stung in the face again by a black wasp while vacationing south of Cancun.  This time experience had me in the resort’s doctors’ office immediately and salvaged my last day there, I now have an epi-pen for my next encounter.

Posted by Jeff w on 7/23

yellow jackets will not stay away from my hummingbird feeders .what can i do.why do they like sugar water.i make my own.

Posted by jean on 7/24

Yellowjackets will dig another exit hole, so don’t try to trap them in as was suggested previously.

Posted by Gail on 7/24

Yellow Jackets swarmed our painter, giving him many painful stings.  I went out at night and poured gasoline on the nest.  It wasn’t necessary to use fire with the gas.  The yellow jackets were all dead the following day.

Posted by Angie on 7/24

I am 63 years old.  The first time I ever was stung by a bee/wasp was in 1989 the morning after Hurricane Hugo came though our city.  I know it was a honey bee because I saw it after it stung me.  It really wasn’t a bad painful sting and I thought nothing of it - there were more pressing issues at that time - like no electricity, trees down all over our yard, etc. In the past year I have been stung by a yellow-jacket 2 times.  The first time I was stung putting my hand up inside an empty bird house thinking we had gotten all of them out…wrong! it got me on my finger. I could not believe how much it hurt!... I can tolerate pain pretty well, but this was excruiating pain that made me cry!  Second time it got me on the fat part of my palm.  I had gotten too close to a nest in some shrubbery and brushed against it.  We happened to have our pest control man coming out that week so he took care of the nest. I just can’t believe how painful a yellow jacket sting is.

Posted by Barbara on 7/24

Regarding keeping bees, wasps, yellow jackets, etc. away from hummingbird feeders, apply pure almond extract around the ports using a Q-tip. Reapply each time you clean and refill the feeder. Imitation almond extract does not work. Hummers are not affected by it since they have a poor sense of smell.

Posted by Anne M. on 7/24

I saw a yellow jacket minding it’s own business in the grass at the local park, and I squished it with my rubber armored foot.

Posted by Billweiser on 7/24

It is true that Wasps are alkaline and Bees are acid when it comes to stings but there are many ingredients besides that in both stings.  A bee keeper told me to keep a bottle of the tablet aspirin handy.  This needs to be done right after the sting, does not work well later.  I grab the cap put a aspirin in it, add enough water to just make it a paste.  Put the paste on the sting, take a bandage and dampen the cloth part and cover sting, apply water to the cloth keeping it damp for about 10 to 15 minutes.  A neighbor boy got a yellow jacket down his shit.  By the time he entered the house and I got the shirt off he had 15 stings.  After talking to his mother she said try the aspirin (he had no trouble breathing).  The next day after removing the Band-Aid, only the first sting was apparent and no pain. Each sting gets less potent.  Bees sting once and die, wasps sting multiple times. Bee stings can leave venom sack be sure to remove, it will continue to pump venom.

Posted by Kim on 7/24

    As a child, I suffered more than twenty stings at one time.
    I am allergic to the sting and accordingly, at nearly 80 hears of age, if I can’t avoid the area around the nest, I exterminate them on the next very dark night.  Set up a beam (not flood light) to shine on the entrance hole of the next.  Then from a location 90 degrees from the light beam shoot the wasp/hornet killer spray into the entrance hole of the nest.  That way if any come out to defend the nest, they instinctively fly up the light beam and not after their entagonizer, You!

Posted by Alan W. Reed on 7/24

I mowed over a nest a couple of years ago. When I saw the cloud of yellow jackets swarming around me, I took off for my house leaving the mower running. The house was several hundred yards away and I was stung numerous times.  but to make matters worse, they followed me inside! I had to strip to get rid of them and then discovered several in my hair. A little later, I followed my husband down to retrieve the mower. I stayed a good distance away (I thought) and watched him get on the mower with no opposition. But the little devils found me again and ran me back to the house! I think they must have recognized my scent… I hate those things!

Posted by Susan on 7/24

Loved all the little cutesy notes by the tree huggers & environmentalists about ‘live & let live’. Often it is time to get offensive with nature before it gets offensive on you! Ever since my old man got a few stings and almost died from yellow jackets, they have been on my “Eradicate List.” I don’t go out looking for them, I just get offensive on the ones near human habitation and, after dark, pour only about a cup of gas down the hole. It is the fumes that kill them! No need to light the gas. BTW, their digging has already ruined the ground so a little gas won’t hurt it any more. I have seen the pain and suffering these insects can inflict and I keep their nests far away from my family & pets.

Posted by Jonmarc on 7/25

Two years ago, trimming hedges I got too close to a nest I had not noticed. A single sting below my nose had my face swell to an unrecognizable proportion. A trip to urgent-care and a steroid shot had swelling down none too soon. I now have an epi-pen for such emergencies. Always use caution around these insects.

Posted by Jeff weideman on 7/25

There is a big difference between using common sense to protect yourself, family, & pets from being harmed by insects or other wildlife, and in choosing to wage a war of “eradication” against a species.

Most of us would choose to remove nests near high traffic areas.  But sometimes, a bit of live and let live in proper areas is not neither a “cutesy tree hugger” thing, nor a foolish one. 

And it isn’t the disturbance of the soil that would concern most of us about a nest in the ground, but rather, the dumping of something toxic into the ground.  A cupful of gas may not cause irreversible damage, but done often enough, it WILL end up in your own drinking water, if you happen to have a well.  And in the local groundwater, even if you don’t.  So it’s not necessarily the first solution one should try.

Why not approach problems with an open mind, and learn something from each other?  There may be a better way of handling a situation than the one you might normally use.

Posted by Marcia on 7/25

For years I lived in peaceful co-existence with a yellow jacket nest under the roof of my front porch, right next to my front door.  Finally, so many of my human visitors expressed fear that I felt compelled to destroy the nest.  To my knowledge, no one was ever stung by my “pet” wasps, and I have some regret about giving in to popular opinion.  In my experience, if you don’t bother yellow jackets and they won’t bother you.  Red wasps, now that’s another matter - talk about agressive and vicious!

Posted by Carolyn on 7/26

I have some 2” long, buzzers with blue wings nesting in my shed.  They have a low hum and painful sting.  Could you tell me what they are?

Posted by Mary Murphy on 7/26

I found household ammonia poured on the exit will work to kill off the ground nests. Ammonia also works well to relieve the sting & itch from insect bites.

Posted by Janet on 7/27

Those buggers are vicious! Though they do serve a purpose, my whole family is extremely allergic to any stinging insects. Here in Texas, ground nesting jackets are most common. To eradicate the bugs safely, I cut a 2x2 foot piece of cloth netting, and sewed a one inch hem all around, filling each side with dry rice as I went. When we find a nest, I can throw the cloth over it at night, and spray it using a pyrethrin insecticide. Pyrethrin is natural, and will only harm insects that it contacts. I always make sure the whole nest is filled with this stuff, even if I have to mix up and pour a gallon or more in there. The net cloth keeps the angry bugs from being able to get me, but I can sure get them. By the way pyrethrin is made from crushed chrysanthemum leaves.

Posted by Kristin on 7/27

I don’t know where our yellow jackets are nesting but they sure enjoy our bird bath.  A couple of years ago we had an interesting experience.  In summer, we eat breakfast in our patio every morning.  Sometimes we have lox(smoked salmon) and bagels and we discovered that one yellow jacket loved our lox! He would fly to our plate, check out the piece of lox and then, very carefully cut out a piece - seeminly too large to carry but would fly off with it.  In a few minutes he would be back and do the same thing over again. This went on all summer! We decided he must have been a Jewish Yellow Jacket!

Posted by geri aron on 7/29

Oh-KAY, folks. Are we not all ecologically minded? I have personally been chased by entire nests of yellow jackets several times in the course of my work as a ranger, so I hold no love for them. I use a simple non-toxic trap that works every time and won’t hurt the soil,or the dog. Just fill a bucket with water and squirt a little detergent into the water. Hang the bucket away from places where people or pets go. Suspend a piece of meat or fish over the water; I use a bent paper clip but anything works. The yellow jackets cut the meat and then fall. They have to land on something before they can right themselves to fly back to the nest with the food. The detergent breaks the water tension and they drown. I use a slotted spoon to scoop out the carcasses early each morning. This works great and will take care of nests in the entire vicinity.

Posted by Pat Matthews on 8/3

There is a humane and very effective way to not be bothered by hornets or other wasps….local bird shops sell them here in Oregon. These are paper lanterns that look like hornets nests (but better in that they look like a Japanese lantern). Since the insects are territorial, they are fooled into thinking the area is already “staked out” by other hornets. I haven’t seen a hornet since I hung one of these “lanterns” in my front yard and one in my back yard 2 years ago. When I bought my house there were those cruel yellow jacket traps all over. Those kill indiscriminately, even insects just passing through. And we just keep poisoning planet Earth with all the insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, etc. How great to find a deterent that isn’t cruel, deadly,maiming or ugly! Now…if I can just find the cat equivalent!

Posted by Eartha Green on 8/6

Yellow Jackets (wasps, if you will) are a pest in neighborhoods with little or no crops to protect.  They tend to be a little on the ‘aggressive’ side and will attack with little or no ‘provocation’, other than approaching too close to their nests.  On this basis, I tend to lump them with the ‘Killer Bees’ that have been steadily creeping northward since the waters didn’t deter their migration.  I will actively seek them out and kill them when I find them.  Too many of my friends display allergic reactions to their stings, so they are not among the ‘friendly’ insects in my area. I love to raise bees and these do all the pollination that is needed in our area, so the yellow jackets get the ‘bums rush’.  On the other hand, I capture and release red wasps from my house or out buildings anytime I find them, and never kill any of the spiders living around the area (except the Black Widow and Brown Recluse, who have not shown any great benefit to mankind so far.

Posted by William Barber on 8/8

Some years back (summer of ‘65) I was working on a survey crew in the mountains near Glendale, Oregon.  Our compass man stabbed his staff right into a ground yellow jacket nest.  You never saw five young men move in so many different directions so quickly!  I managed to get down the slope (slopes in Southern Oregon tend to be STEEP) and a couple hundred yards up the adjacent one without once touching the ground.  You know those cartoons where they run on top of the bushes?  I thought I was safe, so I took off my hard hat and ran my fingers through my hair.  Mistake!  Got zinged right on top of my pointy head.  We took one man to the hospital; he survived.  The rest of us were OK, just stung a bit.  And we only lost one machete and one canteen.  I even managed to save my double-bitted axe.

Posted by Dave on 8/10

Response to Dave (8/10).  I saw a similar ‘leap’ of faith when a nest of Bumble Bees was disturbed by our crew.  One never ceases to be amazed by what a ‘human’ can do under duress.  I am glad you got off so ‘light’ on this occasion.

Posted by William Barber on 8/17

I heard from someone recently about another problem with yellow jackets.  She researched this and she is careful - so I think it is worth considering.
If there is a dead rattlesnake around the yellow jackets will feed on it and they will absorb the venom.  This can be a really bad thing.  NO KIDDING! So bury the snake’s head if you find a dead on or kill one.
So a yellow jacket sting can be worse than one suspects. 
Oh, yes.  It took my dog over a week to recover from his stings.  Poor baby.

Posted by glenda on 8/17

To BroldBess, 9/12:  What possible connection to yellowjackets can there be with hair removal systems?

Posted by William Barber on 9/12

Bees or yellow jackets at your hummingbird feeders. Just spray Pam on the nectar ports. The hummingbirds will still come but the bees/yellow jackets don’t like it.

Posted by Lucie on 8/5

If you have them, and feel the need to “evict” them, don’t use gasoline, don’t use pesticide spray.  get a quart spray bottle from the hardware store, fill with water, add a tablespoon or 2 of dishwashing liquid, shake it up good, and spray on the wasps or yellow jackets.  This mix dows not alarm them like a pesticide spray will, and is definitely safer than gasoline!  The soapy water sticks to their wings and they can’t fly It also sticks to their bodies, and will eventually suffocate them.  Much more environmentally friendly, except for the wasps!

Posted by Eddie on 8/6
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