Wednesday, August 29, 2012


An Aerial Yellow Jacket Nest
photo by Jonathan Schechter
(On a historic farm house at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, August 25, 2012)

We are in the season of the yellow jacket; a fact well known by lawn workers, gardeners, hikers, picnickers and emergency medicine and wilderness medical professionals. For most human victims of their painful stings, a sting or stings is simply a painful fun ruining event and is characterized by localized swelling. But for about 3 to 4 % of the population a sting is a life threatening event that rapidly cascades to  anaphylactic shock  and the real possibility of death. Those people need to carry with them and know how to use an epi pen; an in the field emergency intervention device that prevents the airway from closing but must be followed by follow up rapid medical intervention.

Here's what you do NOT know. And I think I have right.
Maybe an entomologist knows for sure!

Many yellow jacket nest are found in the ground and they boil up in a stinging  frenzy if a lawn mower runs over the entrance hole, or a hiker steps too close to the nest. 
They are the Eastern yellow jackets, a  common native species.

But this summer more and more aerial yellow jacket nests are being found, sometimes with painful results.
They are, and the  nest in the photo is made by Dolichovespula arenaria, the Aerial yellow jacket ,
 a more aggressive specie's that often attaches to homes like bald-faced hornets.
They tend to be more forceful in nest defense.
All yellow jackets present a clear and present danger to bold fools like me;
 that come in close for a photo.



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