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Unlike bees, wasps do not die after they sting someone. In fact, they can sting multiple people, multiple times during their lifetime.
A wasp’s stinger is not like a bee’s stinger. It is designed to be used again and again, striking the possible threat multiple times, and stabbing the intended prey or potential threat like a small needle. A bee’s stinger is barbed at the end, which is why a bee will sting and then die. When the bee takes off, the stinger stays in the flesh of the prey and disembowels the bee. A wasp’s stinger is smooth and does not stick in a person’s flesh. It retracts into the body, able to extend over and over again.
Wasps will attack in large numbers. When a threat is detected, wasps release a pheromone that summons the rest of the soldier wasps. They will pursue a potential threat over long distances and swarm the threat, the entire time stinging repeatedly.
Yellow Jacket facts
Description: The Yellow Jacket is a North American predatory insect that builds a large nest to house the colony.
These bee-sized social wasps are black with yellow markings on the front of the head and yellow banding around the abdomen. The face is primarily yellow with dark eyes. Front wings of Vespidae are folded lengthwise when at rest. The large antennae are conspicuous. Due to their size, shape and coloration these wasps are sometimes mistaken for bees. Yellow jackets’ closest relatives, the hornets, closely resemble them but have a much bigger head.
Yellow Jackets are common visitors to picnics and parks in the summer as they are attracted to meat, fruit and sweet drinks.
Range / Habitat:
Yellow Jackets are common worldwide, and are particularly abundant in the southeastern United States.
Diet: Yellow jackets are carnivorous, primarily feeding on other insects like flies and bees. They also feed on picnic fare, fruits, carrion, and the nectar of flowers. Yellow jackets will forage for about 1 mile from their nest.
Note: Honey bees harvest nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein) from flowers and are not attracted to meats.
Summer is approaching quickly and as it does, thoughts of warm beaches, soft serve ice cream, and picnics in the park began to swarm our mind.
Speaking of swarming, our brightly-colored friend the yellow jacket also enjoys the warm weather, especially the late summer months into the fall. Yellow jackets, a type of wasp, are found all over the United States, including dozens of different species. One of the more aggressive species is the Western Yellow Jacket, which tends to be particularly protective of its nest when disturbed.
These intimidating pests are likely to be found in rodent burrows at ground level, but can also make their nests inside house walls and porch ceiling cavities. Removal of these insects is a dangerous task. As previously mentioned, yellow jackets do not handle a home invasion well. If you have a yellow jacket nest near or inside your home, it’s best to leave it to the pest control professionals. Attempting to remove the nest yourself will put you and your family in great danger of being stung and may not prove effective in eliminating the issue entirely.
Western Exterminator has wasp control specialists who will be able to safely remove these pests from your property and can also provide tips for preventing them from entering your space again. Contact your local Western Exterminator office today.
Do yellow jackets sting or bite?
Yellow jackets are part of the stinging insect family. This means that instead of having sharp teeth like other pests, they have a sharp stinger that is located in their lower abdomen.
Fun fact: only the female yellow jacket stings because she is the only one who has a stinger, males do not.
Once the insect attacks, the stinger enters the skin, and venom is released. Although painful, the bite is typically not particularly harmful to the human body. However, if you have never been stung by this type of pest before, it is important to keep an eye on the area where the yellow jacket has stung you. There is a possibility that you may be allergic to the sting.
Do yellow jackets lose their stinger?
The yellow jacket stinger is not jagged. Consequently, it stays attached, allowing the insect to sting its victim multiple times in a row. Because the stinger stays attached, yellow jackets do not die after stinging as honeybees do.
What to do once you are stung by a yellow jacket
The main question people usually ask after getting stung is: how long do yellow jacket stings last? Most of the time inflammation and pain from a yellow jacket sting will fade away within a couple of days. As quickly as possible you will want to wash the stung area with soap and water to get rid of as much left over venom as possible.
Using a medical disinfectant may also be helpful. Next, put an ice pack on the sting and rest the irritated area. If you notice any signs indicating an allergic reaction to the sting, including nausea, vomiting, or shortness of breath, call a doctor immediately. If you have been stung multiple times by one or more yellow jackets, consider seeking medical attention as well.
How to avoid being stung again
Sometimes yellow jacket stings can be unavoidable. You are so focused on having fun in the sun, that you don’t always see them coming. However, there are some tips to help you avoid the fearsome pests in the first place.
1. Stay calm. Although the most difficult step, it is crucial to not react with any sudden movements when you see yellow jackets. Movements such as flailing your arms around will irritate the pest and cause it to attack multiple times. Take a deep breath and try to walk away from the area as slowly as possible.
2. Cover any open food or drinks. This tip especially applies to outdoor picnics. Yellow jackets are able to sneakily crawl into an open bag of chips or can of soda without you even noticing. It also doesn’t hurt to inspect food and drink items before ingestion.
3. Avoid strong, highly sweet smells. This includes intensely scented perfumes, lotions, and shampoos.
4. Avoid bright colors. Refrain from wearing bright colors (especially yellow) and busy floral patterns.
5. Keep clean. Wipe hands, faces and outdoor surfaces to ensure that any food/drink residue isn’t left behind.
Why do yellow jackets sting?
It is important to understand why yellow jackets sting. The main duty of the female wasp is to protect her nest. If she feels threatened in any way, naturally, she will attack. The second reason a wasp female will sting is if you are interfering with her food source. The more we know about yellow jacket behaviors the less we will fear them. Stay calm around them and leave any interactions to the professionals.
When people say they are allergic to bees, wasps, and/or hornets it is not the insect they are allergic to, but rather the venom in their sting.
Wasp stings can be life-threatening to people allergic to the poison in stings. This allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis. If you are allergic to wasp stings, make sure you carry your medication and seek medical attention right away if you are stung. Wasp stings can happen multiple times due to the nature of wasp stingers and how wasps attack.
People who have been stung several times previously and have become sensitized are more likely to suffer this systemic reaction. The good news is that this type of allergic reaction is rare and rarely fatal.
Preventing wasp & hornet stings
If wasps feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed it makes them very aggressive and provokes them to sting. Do not approach a wasp’s nest during the day when they are the most active. Maintain a safe distance as they will defend their territory at a larger distance than most bees. Do not try to knock down or remove a wasp’s nest – save that for us, the professionals.
In the spring wasps hunt aphids, greenfly, and other insects to feed grubs in the nest. At this time wasps will only become aggressive if they think their nest or their young are under threat.
In late summer and early autumn wasps do not have any young to feed so they do not get any sugary secretions from them. This is when wasps seek fermenting fruit and sweet things and become more of a pest at picnics, barbecues, and outdoor meals in general.
Luckily there are some easy, practical things you can do yourself to try and avoid being stung.
- Do not panic – If you find there are wasps nearby keep calm and move slowly away.
- Do not scream, flap your arms, or swat them – This will just agitate them and make them more aggressive.
- Avoid strong, sweet smells – Do not use highly perfumed fragrances, shampoos, or hair sprays.
- Avoid bright colors – Do not wear bright, bold floral patterns on clothes and bags. Patterns like this can attract wasps.
- Avoid orchards – Soft fruit plants and even uncovered bins of fruit attract hungry wasps.
- Avoid open drinks – If drink cans or bottles are left unattended, it may encourage wasps to crawl inside.
- Cover food and drinks – Always keep food and drinks covered when eating outdoors.
- Stay clean – Ensure children’s hands and faces are cleaned after eating sweet foods/drinks.
If you are having a problem with wasps around your home or business then don’t try dealing with it on your own. Instead, call your local Ehrlich specialist for reliable wasp removal and prevention service.