Yellow Jackets are thin wasps with black and yellow coloring and long dark wings, and a sting can cause significant discomfort. Yellow jackets are most active during warmer weather, but they can also sting during the winter months, as well.
While there are some similarities to honey bees, there are some major differences that set yellow jackets apart. If you find yourself in the unlucky situation of a sting, here are some things you can do to minimize the discomfort.
Are you allergic to yellow jacket stings? Or just sensitive to them?
Anyone who has ever been stung by a yellow jacket knows that it is painful, and that the site will likely swell (especially since yellow jackets do not lose their stingers while stinging — meaning they can sting multiple times). Normal reactions to yellow jacket stings include redness and light swelling of the area, and some tenderness.
But it is worth noting that anything beyond slight discomfort is not normal, and could indicate a more serious problem (like an allergic reaction). If you experience any of the symptoms below, call your doctor or 911:
- Coughing or wheezing
- Problems breathing or swallowing, or tightness in your throat
- Changes to your skin, like hives
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or passing out
- Vomiting or diarrhea
While a yellow jacket sting is rather unpleasant, there are some natural, at-home remedies you can use to minimize discomfort. As long as you are not allergic, these remedies are usually just what you need to find some relief.
Here are some simple ways you can treat a yellow jacket sting at home without the need for over-the-counter drugs.
Apply an ice pack or cold wet washcloth on the area. This can help reduce swelling and relieve some of the tenderness of the area.
Baking soda is the multipurpose tool in your kitchen you never knew you loved. You can make a paste of baking soda and water to reduce the acidity of yellow jacket venom. Mix a spoonful of baking soda with some water and use a cotton ball or pad to apply the paste to the affected area.
Vinegar is another multipurpose household tool. You can spray vinegar on the affected area to reduce any itching you may experience from the sting. Dab a cotton ball with vinegar and then pat the sting.
Don’t let yellow jackets stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. While yellow jacket stings are never fun, there are some steps you can take to prevent them when you’re out and about.
Cover your food
First, recognizing that yellow jackets are typically more aggressive than honey bees is important. That means they will gladly get in your personal space and investigate your food. At outdoor gatherings, keep food covered and avoid leaving sugary foods outside. Sitting food tends to attract all sorts of critters, especially the ones you’re trying to avoid.
Skip the perfume
Next, be wary of sweet smells like perfume (or even sugary or alcoholic beverages). The yellow jackets will want to investigate them, upping your chance at a sting. Small outdoor parties may not matter as much, but if you’re going to be outside for a long time like on a campout, just skip the perfumes. You smell great without them!
Don’t mess with the nest
If you cross paths with a yellow jacket nest, do your best to find a way to avoid it. Remember, yellow jackets tend to be more aggressive. How would you feel if a bunch of giants stumbled up on your home?