Yellow Jackets seem really aggressive this year

aachenelf z5 MplsJuly 11, 2007

I've been nailed by these critters a few times in the last week. Just happened again. Those stingers hurt! Anyway, I've never liked these guys, but decided years ago not to let them bother me when outside. It seemed to work until now. I would imagine the hot, dry summer we're having has something to do with it, but I'm getting a bit paranoid about going into the garden.

Anyone else been having problems with these evil beasts?

And NO, I don't wear any scented products. Can't stand that stuff.


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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Perhaps they've established a nest in a different location this year, bringing you closer to them than they like.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 12:41PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

also likely German Yellowjackets....more aggressive.
Sit outside and watch them....see where they are going. Then after dark spray insecticide into the nest.
My son was victim of a mass attack last summer. He was a sick puppy for a couple of days.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:16PM
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Strangel we have had fewer this year than ever. I'm sorry to hear that has not been the case for you. Some good advice it seems above. You might check around and see if the neigbors are doing something different also. New neighbors with an out door trash can etc.? Otherwise you might evaluate the yellow jacket traps from the hardware store. They are chemical free and very effective.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 10:30PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Thanks everyone.

It's not that I'm seeing more of them and can't find anything different in my garden or with the neighbors, but I will try to find out if there is a nest nearby.

Anyway, this was a nasty sting. My arm swelled up like a fat, oversized zucchini, turned red and hurt like heck. It's still swollen, but I think it's getting better. I've never had this severe of a reaction before. Would hate to see what one of these stings could do to my face or throat.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 10:12AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I haven't noticed that many, either, but I haven't had time to be outside as much as I'd like this summer (sigh...I *will* graduate college before I collect Social Security...)

Anyway, you may want to ask your doctor for a Rx for an Epi-Pen. Sometimes reactions become more severe after each bite/exposure, so the next reaction could be a whopper. Don't take a chance - get the Epi-Pen, learn how to use it, and keep it in a readily accessible place - **it can save your life**.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 12:15PM
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pam_whitbyon(6 Niagara)

Kevin, I agree with MX about the Epi-pen, but even if you don't want to go that far, at least keep a bottle of Benadryl Elixir on hand, and Benadryl cream. You might just have a high degree of sensitivity to the stings. But if your tongue starts to swell, you'd better have an Epi-pen really close by!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 8:53PM
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I have noticed this as well. In my yard I havent had as many yellow jackets, but they are more agressive, my 3 year old has gotten stung 3 times just by walking thru the yard. I got attacked myself today, but didnt get stung. The bugger wouldnt leave me alone for about 10 minutes. Anyone who may have seen me was either laughing their butt off or ready to call the looney bin on me, lol.
Also I must say that I have never had hornets in my yard before this year, and now I have many, as well as those mudd wasps.
If those get aggressive theres gonna be some real problems around here...what are those people called who never leave their house out of fear? That'll be me, and I will be keeping my children locked up as well. lol.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 10:38PM
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maidinmontana(Zone 5 Billings MT)

I haven't been stung in years and this year I went to the well pump switch to water and got stung, didn't think anything of it except OOwwwie! Went back to turn the pump off and they got me again. Two went down my shirt, that hurts cuz they kept stingin me. I later determined they were nesting in the hinge door of the well pump housing. Just waiting to bomb me everytime I went to the switch. I doused the crack with hornet killer and so far there is no sign of them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:20AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls


Thanks for the tip about the Benadryl Elixir. I haven't heard of this, but I'm certainly going to try and find some. The swelling still isn't gone!


    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Please get an Epi-pen! It is true that you can have a more severe reaction next time. My husband has been stung before with redness and swelling, but a few summers ago he got stung and almost died.He went into anaphylactic shock and spent three days on a ventilator. Please tell your doctor about your reaction and get him to write you a Rx for the Epi-pen. My husband was asked if he ever had a reaction before like redness or swelling. Our yellow jackets had a nest about four inches wide with about 30 to 40 in the nest. I read that they get aggressive later in the summer and look to eat more protein instead of nectar so make sure the trash is covered and maybe set out traps.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:07PM
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We have a 6 week old pup (Retreiver cross) let her out at about midnight. Heard her yelp or bark but thought nothing of it. She came in and proceeded to run through the house screaming and yelping for the rest of the night. Every once in a while she would drop of exhaustion and sleep,panting very fast, for about half an hour and then start in on the screaming again. I've never seen a dog behave like that. Took her to the vet, who said she had been stung and gave us benadryl to give her. When she had settled down we managed to get a look at her ears. She had at least 24 stings in each ear, more on her face down her legs and on the bottom of her front paws. We looked but found no nest in the yard! I have never heard of an animal being stung that much at night befor. We had noticed befor this that the wasps are more aggressive and had been stung and driven into the house while trying to do yard work.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 5:15PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

That's terrible! I can't imagine how much that would hurt. Poor dog.

I've decided not to even go near this part of the garden until temps are in the 30's. I'm pretty sure they're nesting in my compost pile or right next to it.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 7:07PM
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You know Kevin I don't know why I did not think of the compost pile before. Our compost bin at the far end of our property had a nest in it earlier this year. Since I'm a coward I solicited my husband to deal with it who went out in the morning, stomped it down and then thoroughly soaked it with water. Still took upwards of a week for the yellow jackets to abandon what once had been home.

Take care of yourself when you go deal with this:)


    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 11:51AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We had a problem with them today. We were pulling apart a cement block bed and they 4-5 of them started following someone helping me with it. We backed off and no one got stung, but every time we went down that end of the bed, there would be a couple starting to follow us. So we abandoned that project for the day and I am trying to figure out where they are coming from. If they have a nest there somewhere. I can't see a hole or see them exiting anywhere. I don't want to stumble upon it and they suddenly start swarming out of it.

I need to get the bed pulled apart so any suggestions for how to find the nest if there is one and how to deal with
getting it out of there without getting stung?


    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 2:04PM
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You just have to watch them to see where they are coming from and returning to. These things are super aggressive and don't need any excuse to attack. I'm generally live and let live but when they nested near my front door, I got one of those long distance wasp sprays and dealt with them as they would deal with me.
Amd yes, repeated stings can go from a local reaction to a systemic reaction very fast - like call 911 the next time you get stung. Use the epi-pen but also call 911 - this is nothing to kid around about.
Years ago my brother got stung by a couple of these. He barely made it the 200 feet to my neighbors before he collapsed. They didn't even stop to call an ambulance but piled him into their car and rushed him to an emergency room which saved his life. He was unconscious when they got there.
I've been desensitized or I wouldn't have dared use that wasp spray.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 3:07PM
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Now there are a few things called "Yellow Jackets" because of confusion....around here everyone calls our Paper Wasps the above, but they are not. Our true Yellow Jackets are NEVER aggressive (unless disturbed) and we allow them to keep their nests because they are veracious predators of pests. Now, those Paper Wasps are VERY aggressive between July and September and these are they ones myself and my dog are allergic too. We have to keep benedryl handy around here...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 11:21AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

This is what I'm referring to. See below.

This morning I was outside painting 2 stories up. It was barely 50 F, so I thought they wouldn't be around. No such luck. All of a sudden they were buzzing all around my head. Then I remembered I was wearing a black jacket. I guess that color makes them mad. Came down from the ladder really fast.


Here is a link that might be useful: YJ

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 12:50PM
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aunt_lou(Z5 OH)

Problem? Yes!!! Big problem!! We kept gettin yellow jackets ---by the hundreds--- coming into this one room on the SW corner of our house. We killed 2 or 3 hundred [yes--I do mean hundred!] when my daughter finally saw the tiny hole above the west window where they were coming in. We stuffed it with paper which kept them from coming in by the droves. I went outside that west window and saw hundreds more swarming around a couple of cracks on the outer edge of this one west window. There must be thousands inside that wall of the house! I have sprayed can after can of wasp spray at them and at the entrance to their nest----still hundreds of them. I have set up yellow jacket traps by this window and they are filling up but there are still hundreds!

I was stung by one of them in the house and I never had a more painful sting in my life!!! I have been stung by honeybees, wasps, mud dobbers, bumble bees, and even a scorpion once down in TX and none of them hurt like this sting did. These are the true yellow jackets pictured in the post above. Horrible monsters!!! I am a grandma and never in my life have I ever had problems with yjs until this year. They were around but didn't pay any attention to them. Well, they have my attention now!!

I have a flower bed under this particular window and want to do some fall work there but can't because of these things. We hate to spend the money to have a professional come out and deal with it. What to do?!!

Anyways ---- as you can see--I can relate to your problem.

Aunt Lou

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 10:56AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I have found the opposite of what Vera wrote above. The regular wasps around here (they make small paper nests under eaves and on branches) are not very aggressive, but the yellowjackets are very aggressive. Perhaps it's more persistence than aggressiveness, but if you're eating meat or sweet stuff outside, those yellowjackets will keep buzzing around you, right at your hands, trying to taste your food. They haven't stung us very often, but they are definitely not frightened away by people, which seems pretty aggressive to me. Because they hover so close, I'm thinking of trying a flyswatter to see how good I can get at knocking them out of the air!

The regular yellow wasps, on the other hand, are so mild-mannered that I can take a rake handle and knock their small nests off the house, even while the sentry wasps are right there. They'll buzz around a little and then fly off, usually. I did get stung by one this year, because my arm was right by a hidden nest on a boulder next to my strawberry patch. I was very close to that wasp for several minutes, so it stung me.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:00PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Yesterday I was out in the backyard in a wild area, cutting down Buckthorn and applying herbicide to the stumps. There was a Barberry nearby that I wanted to pull out and so I started cutting back some of the branches. Out of nowhere Yellow Jackets got me on both hands, through my gloves! I got out of there quick. Cripes, it's bad enough pruning Barberry, but then I have to get stung three times on top of it!

Took some Benadryl, then went back out to continue chopping Buckthorn. There was a swarm of Yellow Jackets flying around next to the Barberry. Guess they have a nest there? They didn't bother me any more though, even though I was maybe 10 feet away.

My right hand has swelled up pretty big. It looks pretty funny. This has never happened before - maybe I'm getting more allergic? Should I get an epipen?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 11:35AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I'm so sorry that happened to you.

Yup, that's what my hand looked like too, except I got stung above the elbow and the swelling traveled downward through my entire arm. It took about 4 days to go away, but I didn't take the benadryl until the 3rd day.

I would definitely talk to your doctor about this and see what he has to say.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 4:09PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Well after about 24 hours, the swelling started to resolve. The Benadryl really helped I think. I will mention it to the doctor next time I see him.

The funny thing is, there are literally hundreds of bees, including yellow jackets, in the garden. I have never been stung there, even though I'm puttering around and brushing up against them all the time. I absolutely love having bees and all the pollinators in the garden.

Apparently, they are most aggressive when you get near their nests. I'd be happy to stay away if they'd only let me know without stinging! lol

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 8:35AM
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