The yellow jacket is a species of wasps that has predatory tendencies. When a yellow jacket attacks you it will both bite and sting. In fact, it bites you to get a better grip to deliver its sting. The name yellow jacket actually is used as a general term for wasps in North America. In other parts of the world the same is just referred to as a wasp. It can also be called a yellow hornet.
Yellow jackets help the environment and the circle of life by feeding on the insects that cause damage to crops. This includes caterpillars, larvae and other small insects. Yellow jacket workers get more aggressive in the fall as they abandon their colonies and forage for themselves. They have no larvae to care for during this time and as they try to survive as a random entity they can become very testy when they feel threatened.
Generally yellow jackets don’t survive the winter unless the nest is in a very warm place in which case the whole colony can survive. However, the typical behavior of yellow jackets is for the queen to fly away after the summer and start other colonies elsewhere leaving the workers behind who die off at the end of the season. This nest is not reused.
A yellow jacket’s sting
It is excruciatingly painful but will last for about an hour or two. The sting can cause a burning sensation with a red ring surrounding the sting site. Usually, the red ring will last for up to three days without being infected.
Because yellow jackets are attracted to human food especially meats and sweets the chances of running into one are very high which makes the probability of as ting just as high. An effective home remedy for a yellow jacket sting is a plain mixture of baking soda and water (a spoonful of baking soda will suffice) applied to the sting site. This helps to neutralize the venom. You can also apply some vinegar afterwards to reduce the itchiness. If you keep scratching the site you can open yourself up to an infection.
You can also apply some calamine lotion to the area or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the swelling, itching and pain from the sting.
How to remove yellow jacket nests
Try to not approach the nest during the day because there is a greater likelihood of being stung by the worker yellow jacket as they strive to protect the queen. Instead wait for nightfall when they are not so aggressive and dismantle it then. You can kill yellow jackets with pyrethrum aerosol at night because they do not see well and the whole colony is inside the nest. Why pyrethrum aerosol specifically? Because the pyrethrum forms a potent gas which fills the interior of the nest and no wasp can survive this.
Once done with the spraying you should let the aerosol dry completely then dust the nest with insecticide dust to kill off any hatching eggs.