Yellow Jacket Sting



german wasp



A yellow jacket sting or wasp sting can be a painful experience, although usually, it is no more that a minor incident and rarely causes a serious problem. The exception to this is when a severe allergic wasp sting reaction - or even anaphylactic shock is caused (which is generally rare – anyone aware that they have an allergy to stings should carry an Epipen at all times).



Wasp stings are smooth, unlike honey bee stings, which are barbed, and more like bumblebee stings, which are also smooth. For this reason, in the event of a sting, there is no stinger to remove, as is the case with honey bees.

Yellow jacket stings are also slightly different to those of hornets and bees – that is, they are chemically different for each insect, although venoms for hornet, bee and wasp stings may contain similar protein and enzyme constituents.


Most Risky Time Period
A yellow jacket sting is more likely to occur during the late summer or early autumn, when the nest is getting crowded, and they are eager to feed. They may sting when they perceive a threat, so it is important to try not to panic around wasps, and avoid waving arms around, since this action can encourage or annoy the wasps.

During the early phase of the colony development, it is believed that stings are less likely to occur - the colony is still growing, there are fewer wasps, and the wasps themselves are focused on establishing the colony.


The Sting
As with bees, male yellow jackets cannot sting – only females are able to. As well as being used as a weapon against any perceived threat, female wasps use the sting to paralyse prey (aphids, insect larvae), which they will then feed to their own off spring. The sting also doubles up as an ovipositor (egg laying organ).


What Should You Do If You Are Stung By A Wasp (Or A Bee)?
If you are the victim of a yellow jacket sting, read my page about wasp sting treatments, first aid and prevention. This page gives advice for treating yellow jacket stings, with a number of useful tips for preventing them – especially useful if you have young children. However, if you have been stung in a sensitive area such as near to the eye, nostril, in the ear, or in the mouth, go to the hospital immediately.

Another useful page provides detail about anaphylactic shock as well as general bee and wasp sting reactions, which may be similar to bee stings. Although very severe reactions are relatively rare, it is nevertheless a good idea to be aware of the symptoms.

You may also like to take a look at my page about yellow jacket nests , which provides some background information, how to deter wasps from building nests in your garden or home, and how to go about removing a nest.

Finally, yellow jackets / wasps are useful pollinators, and actually very good at helping to control aphids on garden crops. Learn more about them in my page about the wasp life cycle.


Other links:


Bee Stings
Here you’ll find many useful pages about bee stings and treatments, facts, and preventing stings.


Wasp Sting Remedies From The Kitchen Cupboard
Home remedies for wasp stings are similar to those for bee stings.





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