It’s summer and millions of us will be outdoors enjoying picnics, playing tennis, going to concerts and the beach. Millions of yellowjackets will also be outdoors. Close encounters of the worst kind are rare; however, when they do happen it is important for you to know how to handle the situation.
An ounce of preparedness could save a life.
1. According to EcoSmart.com, yellowjackets cause over 95% of the allergic insect stings in the United States. Stings from all other insects make up the remaining percentage. They are aggressive and will sting without cause.
2. Even if you have been previously stung by a yellowjacket or bee suffering no serious consequence, there is no guarantee that if you are stung again that your body’s system won’t react differently.
3. Most people who are stung by yellowjackets will not suffer an extreme reaction with the exception of swelling and itching. Even so, every year over 100 people die from stings. Those most susceptible to adverse reactions are the young and the elderly.
4. Yellowjackets are scavengers that have a sweet tooth. This is why you often find them around picnic tables surrounding the sodas, cookies, watermelon and oranges. They also like meat! One company suggests using lunch meat as a lure in their traps.
Take care when filling up your gas tank. It's not just the trash attracting them. Yellowjackets also like the smell of gasoline products. This is why they are so often found in and around gas stations or near engines.
5. Avoid smashing yellowjackets because they will send off a pheromone alarm to other yellowjackets in the area, possibly setting off a swarm.
6. Unlike bees that have stingers and sting once, yellowjackets have teeth and will repeatedly bite the person they are stinging.
7. Avoid wearing bright colors (especially bright yellow, light blue, red, or orange) and scented lotions and perfumes. Both attract these critters.
8. Check before you sip the outside of that soda can to see if a yellowjacket is resting on top. People who mistakenly swallow these critters must seek medical attention because they have the ability to sting the throat and inside a person’s stomach.
9. If stung, monitor the sting for four hours. Reactions to yellowjacket stings can be either immediate (most are) or delayed. Reactions may include pain, swelling, itching, nausea, hives and fever. Wash and clean the sting ASAP, ice it and take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl to help reduce the swelling and itching.
10. If the person is experiencing a severe reaction, having difficulty breathing or swallowing, confusion, chest tightness, serious weakness speed is of the utmost essence in order to prevent anaphylactic shock.
An already allergic person will likely need a self-administered injection of epinephrine with an EPI-PEN. Administer Benadryl. Liqiuid is best and should be part of your family's traveling first aid kit. Call 911.