Take steps in the fall to avoid yellow vests and their sting


Tailgating is back at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday when the Irish face Toledo. And like every fall, it will be a challenge for fans to stay away from those pesky yellow jackets that are crashing the party.

Every year as autumn approaches, the social wasps start looking for meat, sugary items, and other foods that make people think twice while swallowing drinks outside.

Dr. James Harris, an allergist / immunologist at the South Bend Clinic, said a common stinging was when a yellow jacket crawled into an open can pop or beer can.

“You’ll always see yellow jackets when you’re cooking meat outside,” Harris said.

What is the difference between yellow jackets and other bees? Fluffy, yellow and black, bumblebees play a role in nature by pollinating plants in farms, fields, and gardens. Yellow vests have smooth bodies with long antennae.

Harris said bees sting less often than yellow jackets, with typically milder symptoms. The stings of yellow vests, wasps and hornets can cause reactions such as hives and nausea.

Here are ways to keep yellow jackets off or keep symptoms under control:

  • Store food covered outdoors until ready to eat.
  • Use tight-fitting containers for rubbish and recyclables.
  • Remove trash and recycling from open doors and places where people like to hang out and gather.
  • Try not to annoy yellow jackets. The more aggressive you are around them, the greater the chance that they will sting you.
  • If you get stung, call your doctor if symptoms occur and call emergency services if life-threatening symptoms occur.

Several varieties in Indiana

There are several types of yellow vests in Indiana. Some varieties build paper nests in trees and outside of buildings, while others build underground nests in creek banks, forest floors, lawns, and garden and flower beds.

Be careful at home as people can accidentally step on it or disturb them while they are gardening or mowing the lawn. If you discover a colony, the experts at Purdue Extension recommend applying an insecticide directly to the entrance hole in the ground after dark.

For Yellow West varieties that occur in above-ground cavities, experts recommend professional pest control.

Mark VanderWerp, an entomologist and head of education and training at Rose Pest Solutions, said clearing up yellow vest nests can be done with boiling soapy water, simply dirt in the nest entrance, or by using over-the-counter insecticides.

He said insecticides work best when the nest can be clearly seen; the chemicals are less effective when the nests are covered.

Yellow jackets have advantages. According to Timothy J. Gibb, an insect diagnostician at Purdue University, social wasps trap insects such as flies, caterpillars, and beetle larvae.

Gibb also said climate change will introduce insects to northern areas where they have never thrived before.

When does relief come? The yellow jackets will go away after a hard frost or two.

Surprisingly, Gibb said, torrential rains can affect the Yellow Jacket’s underground hives and reduce their numbers. However, warm weather has little effect on their numbers as they are social beings and can maintain their climate in their hives

Email South Bend Tribune reporter Greg Swiercz at [email protected]

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