By Heather Legg
This weekend, I noticed a lot of yellow jackets around. It’s that time of the year, and here they are. For those with allergies to yellow jackets, it is a scary time. I remember way back when to when I was in elementary school. It was just this time of year and I was on the playground. Goldenrod was blooming, and I went to take a closer look and had my first bee sting. My mom was nervous as she is allergic to bees, but I was fine, just had to recover from the sting itself. A bee sting for someone with an allergy however, can be life threatening and cause a trip to the hospital.
Unlike food allergies, bees cannot always be avoided. However, there are a few things to do to lessen the risk of being stung by a yellow jacket:
• Avoid walking in the grass. Honeybees and yellow jackets often are in grass or bushes, and will sting if stepped on. In fact, most honeybee stings are on the bottom of the foot. Yellow jackets make their nest in the ground and will sting if disturbed.
• Don’t linger around a trash can. Even if picnicking, throw your trash away and then move away. Yellow jackets love sweet things and often swarm around trash and open picnic areas. Keep lids on sweet drinks and other sweet foods.
• Do not wear perfumes, lotions, hair spray or other fragrances. Bees are attracted to sweet smells just as they are to sweet foods. If you know you will be outside, forego the fragrance.
• They also like bright colors, so lighter pastels are a good choice for outdoor clothes.
• Insect repellent usually is ineffective against bees and wasps.
• Don’t swat – it just makes them mad. It is best to walk away, they usually won’t follow you.
• Where there is one yellow jacket, there are probably more. If you see a few, stay away from that area, it may mean a nest is nearby.
• If you have a known allergy to yellow jackets, have a professional come to take care of a nest if you suspect one is in your yard.
If you are allergic to yellow jackets, remember your children may be as well. Often allergies are passed down, but not always. No one wants a sting, especially someone with an allergy risk, so follow these guidelines and stay away from the goldenrod.