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Yellow Jacket Infestations In Atlanta, Georgia

Yellow jackets are a common pest in the Atlanta, GA area — even our beloved Georgia Tech mascot Buzz is a yellow jacket. But last week, while a Georgia police officer was in pursuit of a suspect in the Brookhaven, GA area, the officer was stung over 100 times by a swarm of yellow jackets. The officer suffered a severe allergic reaction to the wasp stings and the attack left the officer hospitalized. Yellow jackets were later found in the officer’s shirt, pants, and mouth.

This recent attack reminds us of the dangers yellow jackets pose, particularly to those individuals that are allergic. Truly Nolen of Atlanta finds it important to share information about this type of wasp with our customers. We want to let you know what you can do to eliminate yellow jackets and their nests if you find them in or around your home.

What are Yellow Jackets?

Yellow jackets are a type of wasp. Wasps in general make up a wide range of insects with over 30,000 known species. Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees, given their black and yellow body segments. However, you can typically identify yellow jackets by their pointed lower abdomens and thin waists. Yellow jackets have two wings that measure about 1.5 inches in length.

Social hunters, they typically live in colonies that contain workers, queens, and male drones. Workers and male drones both measure about ½ inch in length, however the queens are slightly larger (¾ inch).

Yellow jacket colonies are active for a year, with the queen emerging in late spring or early summer to choose a nesting site in which to lay her eggs. Yellow jackets are often considered a nuisance because nesting sites are often found close to the home. Generally, yellow jackets prefer to nest in a location that provides shelter from the elements. Some of the yellow jackets’ favorite nesting sites are under porch steps, along sidewalks and walkways, at the base of trees, and at the corners of buildings. The queen will often utilize a void in a wall or low-lying bush in which to create her nest.

The queen lives through the fall, constantly laying eggs inside the nest and feeding the larvae for a period of 18 to 20 days, until they reach maturity. Through this period the colony expands rapidly, reaching a maximum of 4,000 to 5,000 workers and containing 10,000 to 15,000 cells by the late summer. After the initial larvae mature, they take on the responsibility of feeding and caring for the other larvae. These infertile female workers forage for food and defend the growing colony as the queen continues to lay her eggs, which she will continue to do until her death. Once the colony has reached its peak size, new males and new queens are produced. These mature fertile females and males will leave the existing colony to reproduce, leaving their existing home abandoned.

Even if yellow jackets are proving to be a nuisance for you around your home, they are actually considered to be beneficial to the environment as they are responsible for eating other nuisance insects like beetles, grubs, and flies!

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets?

Yellow jacket infestations can be fairly common in residential areas. If you notice a few yellow jackets flying near your home, this might be a sign that that a nest is located nearby. Careful inspection of your home should be conducted in order to determine the nest’s location and determine steps to safely eliminate it. Nests are usually small in size but if left undisturbed, some can grow to be very large and house enormous populations.

To get rid of a yellow jacket infestation special precautions must be taken to prevent being stung, as yellow jackets will sting if they feel threatened. A severe allergic reaction can occur in individuals who are sensitive, as we saw in the case of the Brookhaven officer. Truly Nolen does not recommend the use of do-it-yourself products or attempting to remove any wasp nest on your own. For your safety, consult a qualified pest control professional. At Truly Nolen our trained technicians apply a fast acting natural product to the nest that works quickly to eliminate the colony all while keeping our customers safe.

Yellow Jacket Facts

  • Yellow jackets live in colonies and are social insects.
  • Nests can contain thousands of wasps.
  • Yellow jackets primarily eat fruit and plant nectars.
  • Yellow Jacket is a city in Colorado.
  • The Georgia Tech mascot is a yellow jacket named Buzz.
  • Yellow jacket stingers are found at the end of their abdomens.

Yellow Jacket Pictures

Yellow JacketYellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket Stings

The best way to avoid a wasp sting to is avoid both wasps and their nests. Wasps will usually only sting if they feel threatened or when their nest is disturbed but some will sting if they are swatted. Take extra care while eating and drinking outdoors because it is common for wasps to climb into soda cans and sting. If a sting does occur, the symptoms are usually short-lasting. The initial burn of the sting usually fades to tenderness and swelling. Wasp stings can be extremely dangerous for those allergic to them. If at any time you feel that the sting is serious, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Beware of Bees While at Work in Georgia

Bee Control
A new government report from the U.S. Labor Department – entitled “Fatal injuries and nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving insects, arachnids, and mites” – reveals that bees were responsible for more workplace deaths (52) than spiders, wasps, and ants combined. Although not typically associated with workplace injuries and deaths, occupational injuries from insects, arachnids, and mites were responsible for 83 worker deaths from 2003 to 2010. The majority of these workplace deaths (63%) were due to bees.

Insect-related deaths were most commonly associated with farming, construction, and landscaping. These three types of job categories accounted for two thirds of the deaths. Almost all the deaths were caused by the bugs’ venomous bites and stings. Fatal occupational injuries involving insects are often associated with an allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock.

Federal agencies dedicated to ensuring employees’ health and safety of in the workplace – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – have each recognized insects as a serious workplace hazard. According to NIOSH, thousands of people in the U.S. are stung by insects each year and as many as 100 people die as a result of allergic reactions.

In 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), Georgia ranked third, behind Texas and California, with 610 cases of reported nonfatal insect-related worker injuries. The pests appeared to particularly target public-sector employees – 35% of all injuries reported were state and local government workers. Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, transportation, and construction occupations had consistently high counts of nonfatal insect-related cases. Employees in these fields are likely to deal with the natural habitat of insects.

After adjusting for population, Georgia may be the second most dangerous place for nonfatal insect-related worker injuries (behind New Mexico). In 2010, Georgia had 6.3 insect injuries of workers per 100,000 people living in the state.

Safety Tips

Outdoor workers are at risk of being stung by flying insects. Protect yourself by:

  • Wearing light-colored clothing. Avoid cologne or perfume, perfumed soaps, shampoos.
  • If there is a stinging insect flying around, remain calm and walk away as quickly as possible. Go indoors or to a shaded area. Don’t jump around or wave your arms. Swinging or swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.
  • If you can’t leave, stay very still until the insect flies away.
  • If an insect is inside your vehicle, stop slowly, and open all the windows.
  • If a bee, wasp, or hornet is after your food or drink, put down what you are eating/drinking and calmly walk away.
  • Workers with a history of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should carry an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) and wear medical ID jewelry stating their allergy.

First Aid

If a worker is stung by a bee:

  • Immediately remove the stinger by scraping the area with a fingernail, credit card, or other clean sharp-edged tool.
  • Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers, since squeezing the stinger can inject more venom into the skin.
  • Keep the site clean by washing with soap and water.
  • Apply ice to reduce the swelling and apply a topical anesthetic to reduce the pain and itch.
  • Have someone stay with the worker to be sure that they do not have an allergic reaction.
  • Seek medical attention immediately for allergic reactions.

If you suspect a bee or insect infestation, call Truly Nolen Atlanta for a free inspection.