Why Wasps and Hornets Get More Aggressive in Fall
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I feed yellow jackets! Mostly honey, but sometimes molasses or cooked meat or fish. I have had over 75 at the feeding place(on a table by the back door) and they aren't agressive. I know they keep mosquitoes and black flys away.... Some of them get to 'know' me and will come in the house and 'buzz' me to put out more honey. Butterflys 'whack' them with their wings and seem to be the only thing that the yellow jackets are respectful of. I have never been stung since I started feeding them and they often crawl on my hands when I put out stuff. They like oranges but won't touch lemons!
We use to have jackets build several nests in our open garage, but read that you just hang a brown paper bag with stuffing in it and the jackets think it is a hornet nest and do not come around. So I did, and no jackets for several years. Think this one works!!
This spring, I read that putting a sheet of fabric softener in the mailbox, and other areas, will keep stinging insects from building nests. I tried it and it works. They used to build there all the time. Not a one has taken up housekeeping anywhere near the mailbox, newspaper tube, or surrounding areas.
As to stings, I treat with a bite stick available at the drug store and take Benadryl. Works very well. I keep these on hand ... as you never know when they will be needed. My sister is severely allergic to stings ... so this might not work for people like her.
I find hornets to actually be the worst all all stinging bugs. They are bigger and hurt alot more. The ones with the White butt's worst of all.
I beg to differ on the content about how to treat yellow jacket stings. I have read in books and online that treating bee stings with a paste of baking soda is a good idea, but that yellow jacket and wasp stings should be treated with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. After being stung by both types of insects I have found this to really work. I just cut a piece of lemon and hold it on the sting area for a few minutes which cuts the length of time it hurts or itches.
If you have a lemon slice handy, that seems like a good option. Over the years, I've seen/heard medical experts suggest baking soda paste, vinegar, lemon juice, an ice pack, hydrocortisone cream, a pinch of meat tenderizer (!), a dose of antihistamine and/or an over-the-counter painkiller. They probably suggest baking soda most often because almost everyone has a box of it handy.
Unless you have a serious allergic reaction, I'd say take your pick.
I've suffered a good many yellow-jacket stings in my lifetime, and to be honest, I usually just swear a bit, wash the area, and get on with it.
I had a very painful shoulder injury in a bicycling wreck. It eventually got better, then residual/chronic pain developed. On a warm day in late winter I saw a rotten limb on the trail ahead. Yellowjackets had burrowed in to overwinter and there was a cloud of them--it was a sunny cool day.
I rode through and thought I'd avoided them. I reached up to adjust my eye protection and this involved bending my elbow. Later I felt something near the crook of the elbow. It was a coolish day--enough to numb the skin where I'd rolled up my shirt. I looked to see what the sensation was only to see a yellowjacket doing a little circular dance---step step jab, step step jab. It didn't hurt then because of the cool air flowing over the sting site but I knew when I got to my turn-around point and got inside for some snacks and beverages I was "in for it" and yes, it did hurt.
But afterward the chronic pain developing in my healed shoulder injury ( and this was real real bad originally like a burning spear being jabbed in my shoulder all the time for weeks---the shoulder had swelled about 2X and had a multi-colored gradient bruising covering the whole shoulder originally ) disappeared and has never returned--decades later.
Evidently apitherapy does not pertain solely to honeybees. I always thought it was an "old-wive's tale" until I did a little investigation and found there's a valid explanation satisfying scientific rigor. Something about the venom "resets" prostaglandin levels---something like that----and those endochemicals stimulate secondary inflammatory processes which are intended to immobilize/cushion injured tissues in animals having to remain active to survive even in the presence of injuries. But if they run amok these inflammatory processes may be as damaging as the primary injury. I'm glad I didn't kill my little benefactor. An hour of bearable discomfort =ed a lifetime of benefit. I've always been able to coexist with known yellowjacket nests in my yard if I was observant of them and could mow right up to the entrance if being respectful without inciting all-out war. Same with a bald-face hornet nest just above head-height. Yes these insects are dangerous to people who are allergic. But they can be reasoned-with. It probably helps that I'm slow as steam off "what the bear does in the woods" on a cold/still day.
These little hornets are beneficial predators of yard/garden pests and if you don't like those bite-first/ask-questions-later hunting spiders of the Clubionidae family---obesa, cheirocanthium mildei, frequently pallid and often building a sac retreat---are just plain rude! Anything that happily thins their herd in my yard to feed to their larvae are welcome in my yard. Mildei can cause a mild envenomation which is not enjoyable---been there/done-that. At least yellowjackets can see and react to you in predictable ways that the observant gardener can use in order to avoid a painful escalation of interactions. Honestly the only yellowjacket stings I've had have been a result of stepping on 'em barefoot and that aforementioned event where I inadvertently compressed one in the crook of my elbow when she'd landed to rest there. Just watch out for 'em. At least they have bright warning colors.
Use a little household ammonia on the stings of bees, wasps, hornet,or fire ants. Soak a small cloth with straight ( some dilute it 50/50, but it doesn't seem to work as fast) and hold it to the sting/bite. Be sure you are in a ventilated area to avoid the fumes. Their venom is usually acidic and ammonia is alkaline so this neutralizes the poison, with the bonus of disinfecting the area.
That wasp spray is very toxic, nasty stuff! It will kill plants it gets on as well as insects. I use a spray bottle with soap water. Put the sprayer on the long shot setting, and test it (practice). All I do is spray the nest. Any yellowjacket hit with soap just drop down dead immediately. Then I knockdown the nest and step on it. When the others return, they don’t build there again.