Taking the Sting Out of Yellowjackets

Aug 1, 2017, 09:33 AM by Fred Speer

Yellowjacket season usually peaks in late summer and early fall, but there are signs of an early arrival in areas of California. The Clark Man would like people to be aware of that fact, so they take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their families.

While some stinging insects are beneficial to our environment, others, including carpenter bees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets (the most commonly encountered stinging insect), can pose a threat to people and structures.

According to a recent article in the Sacramento Bee (, residents in Sacramento County have been experiencing early-season yellowjacket activity with one five-acre property turning up nearly 90 active nests. With yellowjacket colonies having the capacity to host upward of 5,000 stinging insects, the threat is very real.

Yellowjackets are mostly scavengers that ruin barbecues, enter garbage cans, hang around dog food bowls, and alight on overripe fruit. Researchers at the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources say their defensive behavior gets more aggressive as populations become larger at the same time food gets scarce.

Yellowjackets can nest in a variety of locations in and around structures, including trees, bushes, in the ground, attics, crawlspaces, gutters, sheds, building overhangs, and decks. And they deserve your respect.

According to the National Pest Management Association, allergic reactions to stinging insect bites send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room annually.

If you come across a nest, proceed with caution, because yellowjackets can be very aggressive. Removal of any nest is not a do-it-yourself job, and should be done by a licensed pest management professional.

The Clark Man recommends the following tips to help people protect their families and pets from stinging insects:

  • Keep food covered: During a picnic or cookout, cover all food when outside, and be sure to keep tight-fitting lids on trash bins.
  • Avoid excessive use of fragrances: Avoid excessive use of perfume or cologne, as yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances. When possible, choosing unscented shampoos, soaps, lotions, and sunscreen is also ideal.
  • Adjust your wardrobe: Avoid wearing dark colors and floral prints, since these patterns can attract stinging insects. Wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas where hornets and other pests often nest.
  • Empty the trash: Empty garbage cans regularly, and wash recycling bins to eliminate the sugary residues from soda and beer cans that yellowjackets favor.
  • Remain calm, cool, and collected: Do not swat a nearby pest or flail in panic – these movements may actually provoke an attack. Instead, remain calm and slowly walk away from the area. The insect should fly away without causing any harm.

If you have problems with stinging insects in and around your home, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or send the Clark Man an email at

Until next time I’m the Clark Man, and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home.

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