How Does a Yellow Jacket Sting?

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Females verses Males

  • Yellow jackets are actually from the wasp family, not the bee family. They are yellow and black and skinnier than bees. Yellow jackets are also not capable of carrying pollen, so they don't make any honey. As far as the food chain goes, the yellow jacket is responsible for eating other pesky insects. There are two types of yellow jackets: the male and the female. The female yellow jackets are the only type that can actually sting. The males have no stinger.

The Sting

  • The female yellow jackets have a spear-like stinger that is covered in small barbs. The female is known for stinging her prey repeatedly until the stinger gets stuck in the prey's body. The stinger will remain in the prey's body until the prey removes it. This is a simple task for humans, but not so simple for other animals or insects that get stung. Yellow jackets are much more aggressive than bees. They quickly pierce their prey and then remove their stinger and do it again. It happens in seconds. Once the stinger penetrates the prey, it releases a poison. This poison is not harmful to humans unless they are allergic to it.

Allergic Reactions

  • The poison released by the female yellow jacket can also be called venom. If a person has an allergic reaction, they should seek medical attention right away. They will need epinephrine to open their airways if they can't breath and to keep their hearts working properly. They will then need an antihistamine, which works to stop the histamine that was injected by the yellow jacket sting. Emergency kits exist for people who have been confirmed to be allergic to yellow jacket stings.

  • Photo Credit Christophe Libert
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