Most yellow jacket sting incidents occur in residential areas, and stings are often inflicted on people while on their own property. Most sting incidents during the spring and summer occur in response to residents accidentally disturbing yellow jacket nests. Not all yellow jacket species nest in residential areas, but the ones that do usually establish their nests within shrubs, beneath the eaves of houses, within hollowed out trees, on or beneath patios, and inside of garages, sheds, and sometimes, within homes. Other yellow jacket species inhabit nests located in rural areas during the spring and summer, but once the fall season arrives, rural-dwelling yellow jackets abandon their nests and swarm through neighborhoods. This occurs because the insects that yellow jackets feed on become scarce during the fall, so the airborne insects relocate to urban and suburban areas in order to scavenge for human food sources. Since these yellow jacket invaders do not dwell in a nest, swarms can appear out of nowhere before attacking. Unsurprisingly, once the fall season arrives, people sustain stings in a variety of circumstances.

Anyone who is not a small child knows that it is not a good idea to squeeze a yellow jacket, but many people sustain stings by doing just this, only inadvertently. For example, during fall cookouts, yellow jackets often crawl onto foods and beverages, particularly beer cans, soda cans, and solo cups filled with sweet liquids. It is not uncommon for people to sustain stings on their lips after taking a drink from a beverage that contains a yellow jacket. Stings are also commonly sustained on the hands when people squeeze yellow jackets that are on cups and food. Since wasps gravitate toward flower gardens, walking through lawns and fields where flowers are abundant can cause wasps to become trapped under shirts and trouser legs. When this occurs, one pest control professional recommends using hands to isolate the yellow jacket within a fold of clothing, which will then allow a person to squeeze the insect to death before letting it drop to the ground.

Have you ever had a stinging insect fly up your pants or shirt?