Avoiding Yellowjacket Encounters
Reduce the odds of an encounter with the thousands of yellowjackets that are out and about in late summer by taking precautions:
Move slowly and deliberately. Yellowjackets have poor eyesight and are provoked by sudden movement.
Don’t wear perfume, hairspray, suntan lotion, deodorant or aftershave outdoors.
Don't go barefoot, especially in vegetation or on the lawn.
Wear white or pastel rather than brightly colored or patterned clothes.
Check wet towels around the pool for yellowjackets after moisture.
Drink juice and soft drinks from covered containers, with a straw.
Cover meat and sugary picnic food. Do not feed pets outdoors.
Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. Wash them to reduce odor.
Cover any food scraps in the compost pile with mulch or leaves.
Clean up food spills right away.
Cut back tall weeds and overgrowth in remote areas of the yard.
If your family is active in the yard during the summer, be prepared in the event of a stinging emergency. Contact a local hospital or physician for advice on treatment of yellowjacket stings. Someone's life may depend on it.
Yellowjackets usually don’t become ornery until later in the season when their food sources dwindle and they are starving. If a solitary yellowjacket lands on you, sit quietly. Resist the urge to brush it off or to jump up. Wait until it flies away, which it will. Early in the season you might get away with gently brushing it off with a napkin. Even if you successfully kill a yellowjacket, its body releases a chemical that alerts others to attack.
If you accidentally disturb a yellowjacket colony, don’t try to outrun the residents. They can fly up to 15 miles an hour. Jump into the nearest body of water, such as a pond, a creek, or swimming pool. The yellowjackets will give up pursuit. If you are stung repeatedly, immediately get medical help in case you develop a serious allergic reaction or venom poisoning.