Contributing Works Stories

The Southern Yellow Jacket

By WT Cox 

I love doing yard work and spend a lot of time working my our yard, which  consist of mowing, putting out mulch, weed eating, trimming shrubbery and the like. You have to enjoy having a nice, manicured yard because it is a lot of hard work.  

Not only is the heat this time of year exhausting, here in the South, but we are also in a constant battle with wildlife. The deer love my fruit trees, and usually get more apples and peaches than I do. During rutting season, the bucks like to use my small fruit trees as scratching post for their antlers. Fire ants are also a menace. If left un-treated, red hills of aggressive little fire ants would dot my landscape, but I have learned to keep a bottle of acephate on my mower to sprinkle on the hills when I first seen signs of them.   Moles and voles can also wreak havoc on a yard. The trick to keeping them away is to treat the yard in the spring for the grubs that they are seeking. This is not a sure cure, but it does help. 

The most irritating and annoying critters that we have to deal with are the vicious Yellow Jacket. This time of year these little devils seem to be everywhere.  These small wasps are not only annoying, but their stings can also be very painful. My mother was putting out some pine bark nuggets along her drive a few days ago and inadvertently laid a bag directly on top of a nest of yellow jackets.  Before she knew what was happening, she was stung over 40 times. 

While the sting of a yellow jacket is painful enough to earn my respect, if your are allegoric to bee stings like my mother is, they can be deadly. Within a few seconds, she began to swell and lose conscience. It was nothing short of a miracle that she was able to call for help and was rushed to get medical help. That many stings could have easily caused death if not treated quickly. 

Yellow Jackets are vicious little critters. They are considered beneficial insects because they feed their young on insects that would otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in your garden. They can also feed on house fly and blow fly larva.  All this is great, but to me, they are just a pest. I was mowing my yard a couple weeks and got popped in the back of the neck by one. It felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat.  I can only imagine what my 89-year-old mother must have went through when she got stung so many times.

A yellow jacket will sting you seemingly for no reason.  While enjoying a picnic or meal outdoors, they will fight you for your food and refuse to leave you alone. Yellow Jackets are basically the assholes of the wasp family. They live in very well camouflaged holes in the ground, usually in flower beds or around trees and shrubbery, just waiting for a reason to attack.  There can be thousands of them underground and you never see them until you inadvertently stumble onto their liar… then it is “run for your life.” If you just stand there as swat them, they will cover you up with stings in a few seconds.  

The best cure for these little devils is gasoline…   I am not a fan

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