They wait outside your door and the second you open it, they seem to almost be sucked in by the sudden change in air pressure. The pesky and painful Yellow Jacket. Now you have to follow it around the house with rolled up newspaper or other weapon of your choice until you get it because if you don’t, you know it’s there. Hiding, waiting for you to accidentally reach in somewhere and, zap! Pain.
I got stung twice this summer and my husband once. His was worse because he was minding his own business sleeping when I heard him groan in pain waking up. The pain apparently was really bad judging by his reaction as he grabbed his index toe.
Thinking fast, I asked to see it and recognized a sting wound. I quickly crawled to the bottom of the sleeping compartment and sure enough, there was either a yellow jacket or hornet or wasp there. I squished it and confirmed what had gotten him in his sleep.
What a rude awakening.
It hurt him for a couple of days unlike mine. When I got zapped, I was also minding my own business walking and all of a sudden, sharp pain on the top of my foot. Again, I realized what had happened right away and I grabbed my foot and put hard pressure on the sting mark and held it for about a minute. Surprisingly, the pressure seemed to help and I barely felt it after that.
The second time for me was again, minding my own business when I shifted my leg while sitting on a bench. There went the pain and the instant recognition of what had happened. I put pressure on it again but this time the back of my leg swelled up considerably over the next two days.
Wondering if I’d had an allergic reaction and not wanting an emergency, we looked it up online and the swelling is called a large localized reaction. It’s a sort of allergic reaction but not of the systemic kind. If you have that sort of reaction though, your chances of having a more severe reaction in the future rise somewhat.
The things were rampant this summer. When we went to get spray and other means to control them, most, if not all the stores’ shelves were cleaned. Apparently the scourge was worse than usual this year.
We tried suggested DIY techniques for repelling them and trapping them over the course of the several weeks when they were at their worst. We were more mindful of them because we’re outside most of the time. Probably more so than a typical house dwelling human might be and they were everywhere.
The paper bag fake hive trick didn’t work but most of the water bait traps worked fairly well. They love meat and especially hot dogs. We’d place one in a shallow tub surrounded by water and the bees would miscalculate the landing and end up in the water. Add dish soap and it was almost instant death.
We watched some videos on youtube featuring professional bee exterminators and one of them used just soapy water to subdue them and take out the hive initially. He would spray it on the hive and the actual bees and just having it on them would somehow suffocate them.
We found a couple of hives on our property and used that method and it worked like a charm. You shoot the soapy water at them and the hive from a safe distance and you’re done. My husband remarked that there’s a pattern to their behavior when attacked. They go through the extremely aggressive swarm phase initially but if the nest is taken, they go into defeat mode wherein the survivors simply hang around the area, apparently knowing it’s all over.
The most fun technique for dealing with a hive was the BB gun attack. We would just shoot the hive until it was so riddled with holes it would just shred and finally fall down. That was my husband’s favorite. It was carried out at a safe distance, of course.
That wouldn’t work for other types of Apoidea from what we saw on the exterminator shows. Depending on the type of bee involved, the exterminator would sometimes have to evacuate a two block radius before dealing with the hive. That’s how aggressive some types of bees are. My husband said those types have already begun to populate Washington state.
I spent a lot of time digging our spring deeper because of the declining water table and the yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, black headed whipper snappers or whatever you call them liked “the hole” as much or more as me. It was a primary water source during an especially dry summer. I was told by someone that their sting is more potent and that they’re meaner when water is scarce. Sounds believable to me.
I would climb down into the hole to dig and for the most part, they’d leave me alone and I them but sometimes I would get tired of them and bring my waffle iron sized swatter with me and whack the crap out of them until I reduced the immediate popularity of the hole for a minute or two.
It was fun to play yellow jacket batting practice too. It was hard to miss with the homemade swatter I made out of PVC pipe and a piece of loosely wired mesh I secured to the PVC pipe, which was the handle.
I would sometimes make a game out of standing by the trailer and swing at every one that would happen by. I counted upwards of a couple of hundred per session. I would use the back and forth maneuver, the backhand, and the close quarters anti yellow jacket ninja move if they entered my personal bubble. I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get stung while engaging them. It was always when I was minding my own business that they got me.
I would sometimes go over to a swarm and swing away at them while they collected in larger numbers around something they deemed tasty in their twisted little yellow jacket heads. Like tuna juice.
God forbid you open a can of tuna in the trailer to make a sandwich. They would smell it from miles away it seemed and begin to swarm the door and vents, trying to get in. It was almost scary. I would have to eat inside also.
We used the tuna juice against them also. We bought a fly trap at the hardware store that had a one-way top. It came with fly bait but we put the top on an empty plastic gallon milk jug with the tuna juice inside and they went nuts trying to get in.
It was pretty gross actually; we’d watch the jug fill up with yellow/black buzzing bodies climbing over each other trying to get out. Baking in 95 degree plus weather. It was a grotesque genus Vespula fest. Better in than out.
It’s now officially fall and they are showing up in fewer and fewer numbers. I couldn’t find a live one to take a photo of so dead it is for the featured image.
Not sorry to see them go for the winter.