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, lasting 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 and more like bumblebee stings, which are also
smooth, than honey
which are barbed. 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 chemically 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.
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.
Worker wasps forage for food for developing larvae in the form of other insects and insect grubs. However, the adult worker wasps cannot eat this diet themselves, and instead, rely on a sweet substance secreted by the young, developing larvae.
Thus, when all the larvae have developed into adults, the workers must find an alternative source of food. This is when they become more interested in fruit, drinks, refuse bins and so on. They are very keen to feed, but in actual fact, the colony is now in demise.
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.
To prevent stings, consider using a deet free repellent.
For this you could try using a 'Waspinator'. I tend to recommend them because they are very easy to use, and act as an actual deterrent (rather than having to deal with the problem once a nest is already in place)
As you can see, they look a bit like a bag, and you may be able to make one, but on the other hand, they are not very expensive, and should last a while.
Read more about how to deter wasps.
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).
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
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
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
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.
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