Sickened by stings
If you are allergic to wasp, hornet or yellowjacket stings, you know that it only takes one to cause a life-threatening reaction.
But sometimes, you're not aware of your allergy until it's nearly too late. Take the case of a Puyallup, Washington man who is on a ventilator after getting stung on the Fourth of July. According to his brother, "He's never been allergic to bees (yellowjackets). He's had tons and tons of stings in his whole life. Never had an allergic reaction, ever."
That gentleman is one of five people in western Washington who were treated recently for anaphylactic shock after being stung.
Here's the complete story from KOMO News in Seattle.
Video of the Week: Insect Smackdown!
Here's a hornet attacking a cicada:
Here's the carnage after a yellowjacket mauled some sort of black wasp or fly:
And watch as this wasp attacks a large spider and drags it away:
The insect world is brutal, ain't it?
This is WHY he likes our traps
Time to dump the bodies in this one -- there's no room for more to get in!
Side by side, both traps are working wondrously!
Thanks, Ron! Anyone else have photos to share? Send them here.
Video of the Week: How to treat a wasp/hornet/yellowjacket sting
I'll be heading out with the rest of our office to our annual Company Picnic in about half an hour. Thankfully, this has always been a sting-free event, thanks to our R&D folks who hang copious amounts of our RESCUE! Yellowjacket Traps -- and now our W*H*Y Trap -- all around the Liberty Lake County Park and the pavillion where we enjoy the potluck meal.
But even with traps in use, there is still a danger of getting stung, and that's why it's good to know the tips contained in this video where a Registered Nurse explains what to do if that happens:
WHY-vangelists share their photos
I caught five yellowjacket queens and one blackjacket queen over the weekend in my W*H*Y Trap. Unfortunately, I can't show you this catch because I forgot to take a photo of it -- it was time to rebait the trap and I was eager to do so to catch the paper wasps I saw flying around.
Thankfully, we have some early WHY-vangelists who have done a better job of documenting what their W*H*Y Trap has caught so far this spring. Take a look...
Pat Pfeifer in Plummer, Idaho had a good early catch of wasps in the top chamber of his W*H*Y Trap (note the bodies that had already sunk to the bottom of the water):
This photo shows a trap in Canada -- Creston, BC to be exact. The catch is from late April/early May:
Here are some photos showing the top and the bottom of the W*H*Y Trap in Greenacres, Washington:
Our favorite is still from Stamford, TX -- this shows a catch made back in February!
Keep those W*H*Y Trap photos coming, folks!
If you're using the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets, here's a helpful hint we've discovered:
When baiting the top chamber, add 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid to the top chamber. This will coat the insects' wings and make it harder for them to fly once trapped -- which leads to an earlier death... mmmwahahahaha!
Ahem. Happy trapping.
Video of the Week: Yellowjackets, Hornets & Wasps... Oh my!
Our featured video this week comes courtesy of Hal Coleman, entomologist in Atlanta. Hal talks about the differences between wasps, hornets and yellowjackets. The highlight of the video occurs halfway in, when he hoists an extremely large bald-faced hornet nest up near his head.
Video of the Week: European Hornet attacks a fly
Being about an inch long with a plump body shape, the European Hornet can be rather intimidating.
I'm sure this fly thought so:
Video of the Week: Rockin' the hornets' nest
Look for the angry hornets hitting the camera lens about a third of the way through.
Video of the Week: The Hornet Hunter
The subject of this week's featured video is our kind of guy: entomologist Dr. Masato Ono of Tamagawa University in Japan.
As a child, he was attacked by a nest of Japanese Giant Hornets... the species with the 3-inch wingspan and the 1/4-inch stinger. Rather than being frightened, he developed a desire to study hornets, wasps and bees (and eat them as well, as you'll see later in the video). He's now on a mission to find the key to diffusing the giant hornet's painful sting.
Video of the Week: Hulking Hornets
European Hornets are huge! Here's a video of an active hornet nest that helps confirm that. Something stirs them up shortly into the video...
Video of the Week: Sticking it to a Bald-faced Hornet nest
I'm adding this week's featured video to our "Pest Control Hall of Shame".
Housing starts down -- for people, not for wasps!
We've been hearing the same news for months: new home construction is down. Reuters reported last week that housing starts in December 2008 were down 33.3% from 2007 and new home building permits were down 36.2%.
Not to be flip about a serious problem facing our economy, but there is one sector of housing that is not likely to be affected by this downturn: the building of wasp, hornet and yellowjacket nests.
There is a way you can stop their building and hand them an eviction notice: by putting out traps in spring when the weather starts to warm up. Use either the RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap for the yellowjackets, or the RESCUE! W*H*Y Trap to stop the wasps, hornets and yellowjackets. Our traps will catch the queens when they emerge from hibernation to scout nest-building locations.
Video of the Week: Giant European Hornet nest
The creator of this week's featured video found a massive nest in his garage. He identified it as a yellowjacket nest, but more than likely it's the nest of the European Hornet.
Whatever it is, it's enough to make your skin crawl. Extra points for the night-vision segment and creepy sound effects!
W*H*Y Wednesday: European Hornet
Today's featured species is Vespa crabro, known commonly as the European Hornet -- or sometimes as a Giant Hornet.
European Hornets are easily recognized by their large size and black, yellow and rusty red coloration. About an inch long with a plump body shape, the European Hornet can appear rather intimidating. Their heads are yellow and red and thorax is black with red markings. The abdomen starts out red and continues with bands of yellow and black.
The European Hornet is found in the U.S. mainly East of the Mississippi and also in Minnesota, as illustrated in the highlighted portion of the map below.
Although typically active during the daytime, European Hornet workers may fly at night in humid, windless conditions and are attracted to external lighting and windowpanes. European Hornets have an exceptionally long seasonal cycle, reproducing from late August through November. Workers prey on a variety of insects -- including grasshoppers, flies, honeybees and yellowjackets -- to feed their larvae. Hornets can also "girdle" a variety of trees for sap, including ash, lilac, horse chestnut, dogwood, dahlia, rhododendron, boxwood and birch. This often results in the death of the tree.
European Hornet nests are typically built in hollow trees, but can also be found in barns, sheds, attics and wall voids in buildings. Frequently, the nests are built in the openings of protected cavities. Nests built in wall voids can emit a stench. Mature nests usually have 300-500 workers, but they sometimes can number up to 1,000. Colonies last for one year and only the queen survives the winter.
Nature toward humans: European Hornets are not typically aggressive unless handled, or the colony is threatened. Though the European Hornet prefers forested areas to urban settings, many suburban homes in the U.S. are located near these wooded habitats, which increases the likelihood of human contact.
Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch European Hornets!
And if you have encountered European Hornets, we want to hear from you -- either with a comment here on our blog, or by sharing your story on our web site.
W*H*Y Wednesday: The Bald-faced Hornet
Today's featured insect is the big, bad, bold Bald-faced Hornet.
First off, we will note that the Bald-faced Hornet is not a true hornet, but rather is closely related to the genus Vespula (yellowjackets).
Bald-faced Hornets are named for their white face coloration. On the rest of their bodies, they are mostly black with white markings on the thorax and lower half of the abdomen. Compared to yellowjackets, they are quite large and plump, at 3/4 inch long.
For some amazing close-up photos showing the coloration more clearly, follow this link.
Bald-faced Hornets are common to both wooded and urban areas. They typically only forage for live prey but occasionally will scavenge for sugars. This species primarily preys on flies and other yellowjackets for protein... which is why we sometimes see them hanging around our RESCUE! Fly Trap or Disposable Yellowjacket Trap.
Bald-faced Hornets are found in many places throughout the U.S., as illustrated in the highlighted portion of this map:
Bald-faced Hornets build nests that are at least the size of a basketball, and sometimes larger. The nests are grayish and round or pear-shaped, typically in higher aerial locations such as in trees or on buildings. Bald-faced Hornet nests are much stronger, flexible, and resistant to water damage than the nests of other species. The thick paper of the nest conceals two to six horizontally arranged combs. Peak nest populations are 400 or more workers.
Use caution when you see one of these. Bald-faced Hornets can be extremely aggressive when the nest is disturbed, and it is reported that they will go for the facial area when they attack humans.
Here's a video we shot two years ago of a Bald-faced Hornet nest hidden in some shrubbery next to a garbage container:
Good news if you have Bald-faced Hornets in your backyard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch them!
WHY-vangelist in Texas inundated with paper wasps
Brenda in West Texas is anxious to try out the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets early next year. She just wrote to us and told us her situation:
"We live in West Texas and are inundated with paper wasps. When I walk out the front door, I take a fly swatter with me so I can fight my way off of the porch. In the summer, they dive bomb us when we are in the pool. We go through cases and cases of Wasp spray each summer. Those darn things can get inside the home through the smallest crevice and yesterday we had 25 in our living room when we returned home. Needless to say, we are very anxious to purchase a case of WHY traps and have them out in early spring so we can catch the queens."
And you can see where other WHY-vangelists are located and what they have said here.
Video of the Week: European Hornet nest
Previous posts about European Hornets (Vespa crabro) -- sometimes referred to as giant hornets because of their large size -- have struck a nerve with readers. We've had many comments from people on the East Coast (New Jersey, Virginia) who have had encounters with these hulking hornets and are anxious for the W*H*Y Trap to come out so they can catch them.
This week we have two videos to share that each show an active European Hornet nest. The first one is very short, only :12 in length...
And the next one is just under a minute long, showing what happens when a (not-so-bright) person throws a tennis ball at an active giant hornet nest on the side of a house...
Video of the Week: Eliminating a Bald-faced Hornet Nest
In this case, it's a Bald-faced Hornet nest about the size of a basketball, attached to the eave of a house, and quite active.
Watch the video and you'll see why this is no job for amateurs.
Video of the Week: Schmidt Sting Pain Index
The Schmidt Sting Pain Index is a scale that rates the amount of pain inflicted by different Hymenopteran (winged insects -- ants, bees, wasps & sawflies) stings. The index was devised by Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist in Tucson, Arizona.
The index starts at zero for stings that are completely ineffective against humans, and finishes at 4 for the most painful stings. Here are the standings of the wasps, hornets and yellowjackets with which we're familiar -- along with a colorful description of each sensation:
2.0 Bald-faced Hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x European Hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
3.0 Paper Wasp: Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
Interesting... Paper Wasps are the least aggressive of the insects listed above, yet they are said to have the most painful sting.
It's hard to imagine any sting even more painful than a yellowjacket or wasp sting, but there are a couple that are, according to Schmidt. Getting up into the 4.0 range are the Tarantula Hawk (Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric... a running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath) and the Bullet Ant (Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel).
Here's a little video about the Schmidt Sting Pain Index... our clip of the week:
W*H*Y Trap gets its close-up
The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets makes its debut on retail shelves early next year, and we plan to support the launch with TV advertising. We have some great TV spots in the can already, but one crucial shot we were lacking was a good close-up of the W*H*Y Trap in action with live insects buzzing around inside.
Wasp, hornet and yellowjacket colonies reach their peak at the end of summer, as we've pointed out in previous postings. And so, hoping to get a good "body count" inside the trap, we waited out the summer and set aside time last week to get that crucial close-up shot with the help of North by Northwest Productions.
But some heavy wind forced us to move inside the garage to film it in front of an open window...
Not to worry -- here's how it looked on the screen... beautiful!
Advice about stings
From a Master Gardener column in the Newark (OH) Advocate: Here's a good comparison of the different reactions a person might experience after a wasp, hornet or yellowjacket sting, and what to do in each situation:
- Normal reaction: Lasts a few hours. Sting site is painful, reddened, might swell and itch, but will quickly dissipate. For local reactions, your pharmacist can recommend reliable, over-the-counter remedies.
- Large local reaction: Lasts for days. Sting site is more painful, swelling and itching may be present both at the sting site and in surrounding areas. For a large local reaction, you might want to consult your doctor, local emergency room or urgent care site.
- Severe allergic reaction: Can commence rapidly (in a few minutes) after the sting occurs. The person might feel dizzy, nauseated and weak. The person might feel stomach cramps and diarrhea, or might have itching around the eyes, a warm feeling or coughing, hives breaking out, followed with vomiting and swelling. He or she might experience wheezing, difficult breathing (shortness of breath) or swallowing, hoarse speech, drop in blood pressure, and shock. Reactions can occur in a few minutes with most deaths within 30 minutes, but some within 15 minutes and some in five minutes or less. FOR A SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!
Many county fairs and other outdoor events take place in September, when colonies are starting to peter out and wasps, hornets and yellowjackets are desperate for sustenance in the form of sweet liquids. Here are some hints from another Ohio paper, the Morgan County Herald, on how you can stay out of harm's way:
- Keep garbage cans emptied and clean as often as reasonable.
- Be careful when eating or drinking at these events. Be sure an unwanted guest has not gotten into or on the food and drink being consumed outdoors.
- Avoid drinking out of a can where one cannot see into the container. Use a straw or open topped container. A mouthful of wasp is no fun.
- Avoid wearing floral scented perfumes and immediately wash off spilled fruit drinks because the wasps are attracted to floral and fruit scents.
- Wear plain, light colored clothing.
- Don’t panic if you see a wasp. Simply walk away, even if it lands on your clothing – it will soon fly away when it finds that you are not really food!
Tell a friend W*H*Y
The postcard will show up as an e-mail from you with your own personal message, and will include a link back to the site so the recipient can learn about the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets.
Here's a sampling:
Video of the Week: Inside a Bald-Faced Hornet Nest
Here's a fascinating look inside a growing Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest over a weeks' time. The cross-section view shows the queen constructing it and feeding her larvae.
Where are the wasps? (or the hornets, or the yellowjackets)
It's WHY to the RESCUE! We have a new resource on our www.whyistheanswer.com web site for the WHY Trap. It's an interactive map that tells you which of the 20 species of wasps, hornets and yellowjackets are found in your area of the U.S.
Simply roll over each insect (it works better if you do it slowly) with your mouse pointer, and the U.S. map is highlighted with the "footprint" of where each insect is found. Then you can click on the insect if you want to find out more about its nesting habits, nature toward humans, etc.
You can find the map here.
Video of the Week: Giant hornet, trapped
This video shows a giant hornet trapped under a plastic cup and allows a great close-up view of the insect. Our scientists have identified this as a European Hornet (Vespa crabro), which is found in the United States east of the Mississippi. This is one of the hornets that will be caught in the new WHY Trap for Wasps, Hornets and Yellowjackets.
Video of the Week: Honeybees fight back against the hornets
Last Friday's video showed some Japanese Giant Hornets devastating a colony of 30,000 honeybees, leaving a pile of severed insect heads and limbs.
This week, the honeybees get their revenge. How they do this is fascinating.
Giant hornet invasion!
Local experts are trying to calm citizens down by emphasizing that European Hornets are less aggressive than wasps. Still, people understandably are freaked out by the hornet's large size (some can get up to 5cm or 2 inches in length) and loud whirring noise it makes when in flight.
Good news, Norwich: The W-H-Y Trap from RESCUE!, available in 2009, will catch European Hornets.
The European Hornet is also found in the Northeastern U.S. west to the Dakotas and south to Louisiana and Florida. They are prominent in New England and Mid-Atlantic south to Northern Georgia and Alabama.