Monday, September 1st, 2014

Once Bitten Twice Shy: Taking the Sting Out of Yellow Jackets

Todd Walker
Survival Sherpa
July 26th, 2013
Reader Views: 81,586

wasp feeding

I’m typing this post with a very swollen left hand.

I’ve always reacted badly to insect bites. While putting up a wooden fence for a friend yesterday, I disturbed a yellow jacket nest in a bed of ivy. One power-packing bugger hit my in the knee. I killed it and ran about 10 feet away. Then one hit my left hand. I hightailed it away from the area. Fortunately, I only ended up with two stings.

One yellow jacket sting to my left hand and one on my right knee - pictured below.

One yellow jacket sting to my left hand and one on my right knee – pictured below.

wasp sting knee

Knowing my reaction to wasp stings, I started walking the yard to find my favorite remedy, plantain leaves. I quickly chewed a few to activate the goodness and applied the greenery on my bites. The plantain immediately worked to relieve the stinging. The painful sting was not my biggest concern. The swelling and reaction worried me.

The Band Aid I used to hold the plantain on my knee lasted all of 3 minutes before coming off. Sweat and Band Aids don’t mix well. I used medical tape from my first aid kit to secure the natural remedy to my hand. I put my gloves on and went back to work.

Now for the unprepared part.

I didn’t have Benadryl in my work/construction kit. Bad move, Todd! I keep antihistamine meds in all my other kits (hunting, backpacking, get home bag, etc.), but failed to pack any in my construction kit.

Had I been stung multiple times, a hospital/doctor visit would have been necessary. Dirt Road Girl gave me Benedryl when I got home that afternoon with an added dose of lecturing about my not being prepared. My wasp encounter left me uncomfortable, but could have been worse.

Tips to avoid and treat stings

1.) Avoidance –  This is the obvious choice. But sometimes you encounter them anyway. What to look for when outdoors:

Photo credit

  • Eastern Yellow Jacket – Yellowish with black bands around its body. Only 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in length, their smooth stingers, unlike honeybee’s barbed stingers, allow them to inject painful venom in victims multiple times.
  • They build underground nests in cool, shaded areas.
  • When disturbed, their attack zone is about 15 feet from their nest. They will get in your clothes and continue their stinging assault. Steer clear if at all possible!
  • These wasps are actually valuable to have around when they’re not mad at you. Their beneficial in that they kill and eat spiders, caterpillars, and other garden pests. They forage up to one mile from their nest.
  • They’re fond of sweet stuff. You’ll see them hovering over sweets, meats, and sugary drinks at picnics. Stay away from an area if you notice yellow jackets flying in and out of the ground.
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, scented perfumes, and ‘girly’ smelling body soap. These strong odors and flashy colors attract wasps and bees.

If you are allergic to stinging insects, take precautions before you have a run in with these dangerous pests protecting their turf! An allergic reaction happens when your body over-defends against the venom.

2.) Treating stings

The key to reducing damage from wasp stings is to treat them as soon as possible.

Immediately after being stung, I started looking for plantain. I applied it as quickly as I could chew it. Even getting it on that soon, my hand and knee are still swollen and itchy.

For folks that are extremely allergic to the venom, I recommend seeking immediate medical attention. Serious allergic reaction symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Slowed speech
  • Tightness in the throat or chest area
  • Fainting
  • Losing consciousness
  • Anaphylaxis

People have died from mass envenomation from stinging insects. If you are aware of serious allergic reactions from venom, have your doctor prescribe epinephrine (adrenaline) injecting devices and carry them it in all your kits, home, and office.

Remedies and treatments for mild reactions from stings:

  • Topical and oral antihistamines work to help reduce inflammation and itching. Scratching the itchy sting site could introduce bacteria into the skin and cause infection.
  • If you have cold presses or ice available, apply 10 minutes on and ten minutes off (repeat as necessary) to help reduce the itching and swelling.
  • Plantain - Where there is no doctor or medical treatment available, I highly recommend plantain (weed – not banana) leaves. Release the juices by chewing or crushing and apply ASAP. Plantain is a common weed found in most places.
  • Apply a clay/mud pack to the affected area. Wrap it with clean cloth or bandage and allow the pack to dry.
  • Meat tenderizer mixed with water to form a paste can be applied to neutralize the venom.
  • Along the same lines, baking soda and water can help heal the sting.
  • Activated charcoal and water will help as well.

Yellow jackets, though small in size, pack a wallop. Take precautions to avoid them, be prepared to treat nasty stings, and don’t let stinging insects keep you from enjoying the great outdoors.

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


Contributed by Todd Walker of Survival Sherpa.

Todd Walker is married to the lovely Dirt Road Girl, proud father and grandfather, a government school teacher, a lover of the primal lifestyle and liberty. You can check out his website at Survival Sherpa with a vision of helping each other on the climb to self-reliance and preparedness…the Survival Sherpa way…One step at a time. Follow him on Twitter. Send him mail: survivalsherpa@gmail.com

Please share: Spread the word to sheeple far and wide

Get Regular Updates!     Enter Email Address           privacy information  

Leave A Comment...
The Daily Sheeple Home Page


  • SKIP

    DIRT ROAD GIRL!!!!! hahahahhaa suppose it has a different meaning for different life styles.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Preppers/403723612994573 Scot Wiseman

    Just a note on Yellow jacket behaviours from someone who worked in the woods surveying for decades, always look in obvious areas before walking into them, (along edges of grass, fences, walls). Once disturbed, they will usually start buzzing you low and work up. If you feel something hitting your legs, run first. By the time they get chest high they are dangerous.

  • S.Lynn

    Carburetor cleaner kills them. Advice from a mechanic.

  • BGrace

    My 2 year old was stung by 8 yellow jackets today! while my husband helped him I googled yellow jacket sting and your site came up! thank you for the helpful advice! the ice and baking soda paste worked wonders!

  • Tasha

    I did not know that Plantain leaves can help to cure the sting.

    S.Lynn said that Carburetor cleaner kills them. Surprised, but would not try it with these Rascals. My son too got bit and i was first curious to know if it was a bite or a sting. I read here
    http://www.pestcontrolplus.biz/510/do-yellow-jackets-bite
    that they bite as well as sting. The problem with Sting is that they hurt, where as bite can leave us exposed to harmful bacteria. Wondering why? I have seen them to feed on dead carcasses. So if bitten try to clean it up first and consult a doctor.

  • Anonymous

    u suck

  • Greg

    WD-40 kills these things instantly. If your aim is good enough, you can literally take them out of the air with it. I use it to kill entire nests in the evening when yellow jackets are grouped together on the comb and are settling down. No exaggeration, within 3-4 seconds of being sprayed they are on the ground dying.

  • http://www.whyisthesubsinking.com Tim Brown

    Amputation , stat. Then have a hemispherectomy to reduce swelling of the remaining brain tissue.

Get Regular Updates!
Get Sheeple news delivered to your inbox. It's totally free and well worth the price!
email address privacy

Copyright 2009 - 2014 The Daily Sheeple. (v.8)

The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of sponsors or firms affiliated with the author(s). The author may or may not have a financial interest in any company or advertiser referenced. Any action taken as a result of information, analysis, or advertisement on this site is ultimately the responsibility of the reader. The Daily Sheeple is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.