Let’s be honest – if you’re outside and something yellow and black starts buzzing around you, your first reaction is probably not, “Hmmm, is that a bee or a yellow jacket?” It’s probably something more like, “AAGGHH!” An understandable reaction, to be sure, but for your own safety and that of your family or friends, it’s good to recognize the difference – if for no other reason that yellow jackets are more aggressive, able to sting multiple times, and even able to bite. So before you start swatting and running, learn more about yellow jackets in Missouri and what to do when you encounter them.
First, yellow jackets are both predators and scavengers; they are significantly more aggressive than honey bees. And if you move aggressively toward them – such as swatting at them – it only serves to make them more aggressive toward you. (Apparently Georgia Tech knew what it was doing when it chose a mascot.) By late summer, adult yellow jackets at their grouchiest, because the larvae in their nests aren’t supplying them with the sugar material they relish. That’s why they swarm around your fruit and sugared drinks, and it’s also why yellow jacket stings increase in late summer.
Second, yellow jackets have no barbs on their stingers, so they can – and will – sting you multiple times. The good news is that unless you’re allergic to the venom, you probably won’t have a significant reaction if you’re stung. The bad news is, even if you’re not allergic and you’re stung multiple times, you may still have a dangerous reaction due to the sheer volume of venom you’ll receive from multiple stings.
Missouri only has two native statewide species of yellow jackets, but their underground nests can grow to 5,000 or more by late summer. So do the math – if one yellow jacket can sting multiple times, then stirring up an entire nest can mean severe danger for anyone, especially a child.
The Missouri Department of Conservation classifies yellow jackets as a “significant stinging threat” and while they do serve a purpose in controlling small plant-feeding insects and furthering the decay of dead material, their capacity for causing significant human injury usually outweighs the desire to keep them around. With the danger this high, don’t try to remove a yellow jacket nest on your own. Call a professional pest control specialist like Chuck Richardson at Richardson Pest Control to ensure your safety, as well as that of your family and friends. Learn more at http://RichardsonPestSolutions.com.