Are Yellow Jackets Dangerous & Other FAQs

September 08, 2022

If it seems like yellow jackets are more of a problem right now around your Maine home, you’re right! Even agrees and notes that these wasps become a nuisance from August through October. We also touched on this and explained why in our blog post, Why Are Wasps So Active In August? but here’s a quick summary in case you missed it.  Larger wasp populations, depleting natural food sources, and increased cravings for sweet-tasting victuals mean more chances of seeing and being seen (or stung) by yellow jackets and other wasps common in Maine. Even though this is not a new pest problem, we are often asked about yellow jackets this time of year and so we thought why not answer some of the more frequently asked questions about these stinging insects in Maine?


yellow jacket crawling on soda can in fall


Are yellow jackets dangerous?

Whether or not yellow jackets are dangerous really depends on how their victim reacts. Their stings can be very painful and produce redness, swelling, tenderness, and itching at the site. It may even cause hives. Doesn’t sound too dangerous; unfortunately, not everyone has that mild of a reaction. For those who experience allergic reactions, the situation can be more concerning. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a yellow jacket sting include, but are not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness or fainting

For those who experience an anaphylactic reaction, the danger level increases and may even prove severe and life-threatening. Signs of anaphylaxis include swelling of the airways which, not surprisingly, can result in difficulty breathing and swallowing.


If I don’t react to a yellow jacket sting the first time, am I good?

Don’t be lured into a false sense of security if a yellow jacket sting doesn’t cause you any problems the first time around. The initial sting may cause you to develop hypersensitivity which means that any stings down the road could bring about severe reactions. 


Can yellow jackets sting more than once? 

Yellow jackets do not have the barbed stingers that honey bees have. If you’ve ever watched the Bee Movie (the one where Jerry Seinfeld gives voice to Barry B. Benson), you may remember his best friend, Adam, who loses his stinger after he’s compelled to sting the not-for-the-bees lawyer, Layton Montgomery. In order to keep him alive, they replace his stinger with a little pink sword. If you followed that rabbit trail, well done. The point is, that yellow jackets don’t have to worry about leaving their stingers behind and dying when they attack which means they can sting multiple times. 


What should I do if I’m stung by a yellow jacket?

If you develop any symptoms that are concerning and or life-threatening, seek medical care immediately. 


When are yellow jackets most aggressive?

Yellow jackets are most aggressive right now - when the weather starts to turn colder and when their usual food sources start dwindling.  You could even say they become “hangry” starting in August and grow more aggressive as they look for food through the end of summer and into the fall months. 


Will yellow jackets chase you?

Yellow jackets are territorial and their natural instinct to protect their colony will cause them to give chase. If you’re being pursued by yellow jackets, try to get away as expediently as possible and take shelter in a safe spot they cannot access. 


Can yellow jackets damage your house?

The good news is that yellow jackets typically do not cause structural damage to homes or buildings. That said, it’s important to note that they are capable of causing damage to a home and its contents when they nest in the attic or behind a wall, or some other safe spot. Yellow jackets have been known to chew through drywall, and the weight of their nests have put a strain on walls and ceilings. Property owners may also notice a growing wet spot on their ceilings caused by liquid dripping from the indoor nest.


What happens to yellow jackets in the winter?

After the first frost most yellow jackets die off. Only the queens will find a safe overwintering spot. 


What should I do if yellow jackets are in my house? 

If you’ve discovered a yellow jacket nest in your house or close to it outside, please DO NOT self-treat. The risks associated with this endeavor aren’t really worth it and the success rate of DIY methods is lackluster. 

For optimal results and for a solution that eliminate the chances you’ll be stung by vindictive yellow jackets, please contact Pine State Pest Solutions. Offering pest control services for yellow jackets and other stinging pests in Auburn, Augusta, and Portland as well as throughout our multi-county service area, our locally owned and operated pest control company has the tools and know-how to remove yellow jacket nests and eradicate yellow jacket activity. 

And for homeowners looking for even greater protection against yellow jackets and other pests that frequent their Maine homes and camps, we offer year-round home pest control plans. Compare plans and pricing below or give us a call to discuss your pest problem today!

*initial start-up fees may apply

Tags: stinging insects  |  are yellow jackets dangerous

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