Fact vs. Fiction: Yellow Jacket

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March 20, 2014

By

March 20, 2014


Fiction: Yellow Jackets are a type of bee.
Fact: Yellow Jacket is a common name that refers to predatory North American wasps belonging to either genus Vespula or Dolichovespula. They are often mistaken for bees or confused with other wasps, notably Polistes dominula, a type of paper wasp. Markings and coloration can vary.  Mostly they are identified by a rapid side to side flight pattern just prior to landing.

Fiction: Yellow jacket stings are like honey bee stings.
Fact: Both stings are venomous, but unlike a bee that stings once and dies, vespine wasps can sting as often as they find a target. If it becomes injured, it can release an alarm pheromone that attracts other members of the colony to join the fight.

Fiction: Yellow Jackets are of little environmental importance.
Fact: Yellow Jackets don’t quite garner the love and respect that pollinators get, but they do perform a valuable service destroying harmful insects that attack crop and ornamental plants.

Fiction: Yellow jackets are aggressive and readily attack humans.
Fact: Most stinging insects attack because they or their nest is being threatened or disturbed. Yellow Jackets are highly attracted to sugar sources. Fruit, berries, uncovered trash containers, soda cans, and other potential food sources are attractive to Yellow Jackets and conducive to stinging incidents.

Fiction: It is hard to determine the sex of the wasp after you’ve been stung.
Fact: If you’ve been stung, it was a female that did it. And she probably has a thousand sisters just like her in the nest nearby. pmp

You can reach the McGoverns at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com

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