Yellow Jacket Bite

The Yellow Jacket Bite … or Sting

The yellow jacket bite is not actually a bite but a sting. The European Yellow Jacket (Vespula vulgaris) first appeared in the US (recorded in Ohio) in 1975, but are now well established in not only northern America, but southern Africa, eastern Australia and New Zealand. They are now the dominant species of the all the eastern (Vespula maculifrons), or western (Vespula pensylvanica) yellow jacket, which are both native to N. America.

The yellow jacket is a bold, if not aggressive insect. Its sting is painful, and if provoked, the yellow jacket will sting repeatedly. The interesting thing about a yellow jacket is its vengefulness against some who provokes it.  It will follow such a person with diligence.

Of all the stinging insects, this one is possibly the most notorious simply because of the way it can single out a person and pursue them.

These insects can live almost anywhere-in the ground, desks, porches, stone walls and numerous other places not easily noticed, which makes them often times hard to spot before the yellow jacket bite (sting) has claimed another unsuspecting victim. They do have a plus side-eating a whole range of other pesky insects, but they also like many of the things common to a good old fashioned picnic. It is estimated over 95% of all stings are from either the yellow jacket or the honey bee.

The yellow jacket looks like a honey bee without the fuzzy hair; most being black and yellow. They are attracted to dark or brightly colored articles, perfumes, all types of fragrances, BBQ sauce, carbohydrates and sweet stuff. Another interesting fact about these little guys is if you do swat at them they set off a signal that alerts the nest. And, if you squash one, its ruptured venom sack will literally arouse the others to attach you.

A yellow jacket bite (sting) consists of injected venom from a stinger and results in temporary redness and swelling at the site. It is generally not serious and, actually most people say the sting is not that bad. Because the yellow jacket does not loose its stinger, like most wasps, it can continue to sting as long as it feels you are a threat. A typical sting results in a localized effected site with symptoms consisting of the usual pain, swelling and redness followed by itching. Burning can occur and lasts about an hour.

Occasionally, the stinger comes loose and gets lodged in the wound. If this happens, scrape it off without taking hold of it. Squeezing it releases venom which either continues to flow into the wound or arouses comrades for help. Swelling last about a day - if it does persist, it does not necessarily indicate infection. Stings very rarely get infected. Stings to the upper face may cause abnormal swelling but it is not serious.

The venom of the yellow jacket bite (sting) is generally only dangerous to those allergic or those suffering a large amount of stings. These stings should be treated immediately for even a single sting can be life threatening for one who is allergic. Though most stings are yellow jacket related only about 50 deaths a year are caused by one of their stings.