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.
Oooh... Ahhh.... OUCH!
Thankfully, no one needed to be hospitalized for an allergic reaction.
Videos of the Week: A single yellowjacket sting can kill
Today's featured videos are actually two TV spots we created for the RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap, featuring a testimonial told from both a husband's and wife's perspective. Greg Romey was working in the front yard when a single yellowjacket stung him on the ankle. He started feeling dizzy, his breathing became labored, and after a panicked ten-minute ride to the hospital, his heart stopped.
Our company president met Greg by chance at a youth basketball game. When Greg learned that the guy sitting next to him in the bleachers created the RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap, he exclaimed, "Those things saved my life!" He proceeded to describe how that single yellowjacket sting had nearly killed him, and how the allergist who treated him afterwards recommended our product to keep them away from Greg.
We decided Greg's story had to be told, and that's what you'll see here in these two videos.
Wasp sting claims man's life
So sad... a single wasp sting claimed this man's life five years ago. Neither he nor his family knew he was allergic.
The man in a previous post got 200 stings and survived. This man was stung once and died. Being allergic to wasps made all the difference.
A UK man accidentally fell onto a bush that contained a large wasp or yellowjacket nest and was stung over 200 times.
The man was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive.
Video of the Week: Rockin' the hornets' nest
Look for the angry hornets hitting the camera lens about a third of the way through.
Wasps attack schoolchildren
This is what happens when you throw rocks at a wasp nest, as 30 schoolchildren in Australia learned the hard way last week.
Biker minutes from death after wasp sting
A wasp sting can happen when you least expect it... and the consequences can be dire. Here's a story out of Llandovery in the UK. A 61-year-old woman was out with her husband for a day in the country on their motorcycles. They stopped for lunch, she had a bite of an apple, and was stung on her upper lip by a wasp which had been resting on it. They rode to a nearby house to ask for help. She collapsed from anaphylactic shock shortly thereafter, with her airway tightening. Thankfully the paramedics arrived just in time to revive her.
You can read more here.
Video of the Week: A Surprise in the Wall
This video isn't long, but it shows how yellowjacket nests can get too close for comfort at times.
I'm just glad they weren't remodeling in the summer.
Video of the Week: Two Aerial Yellowjacket nests
Since we discussed the Aerial Yellowjacket a couple days ago, our featured video this week is one of our own -- showing two different and very active nests built by this species of yellowjacket.
File this video under "Pest horror stories", because I would be horrified if I found one of these on the side of my house!
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!
In which I get stung by a yellowjacket hiding in my house slipper.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled "Video of the Week" post to bring you a personal story from the writer of this blog.
This yellowjacket and I had already met yesterday morning. She was flying lethargically around my bedroom, looking for a place to hibernate for the winter. Before I could find a magazine to whack her with, she disappeared behind a mirror. Which allowed her to live another day... and go to sleep in my house slipper.
I trapped her in a "catch jar" with a mesh top and brought her in to our lab, where our scientists identified her as a Vespula vulgaris, or Common Yellowjacket.
Being stung actually might have saved me from more problems down the road. Common Yellowjackets are known to nest in between the walls of houses. If I had not found this queen, she could have started a nest in my attic next spring!
She now awaits her fate in our insect research lab.
Giant sucking sound
No, it's not U.S. jobs heading south to Mexico. It's a "Wasp Sucking Machine" devised by an individual annoyed by yellowjackets disturbing his lunchtime on a daily basis. He discovered they were entering and exiting through a crevice in the building where he worked. Not content with using a Shop-Vac to remove them, he put together a contraption with a high-powered motor that sucked them out through a hose and into a glass-topped box to show off the catch.
Nine hours of running the machine netted thousands of yellowjackets in the box. Read more and see the photos here.
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.
Folks in Tampa, FL are buzzing...
The link from Fox 13 in Tampa contains video that is worth watching.
The yellowjackets got a little creative in building,as the nest has unusual "tendrils" growing out from it.
Across the pond, folks in Scotland also had a recent yellowjacket wasp scare. A museum in Glasgow, the People's Palace, had to close temporarily because of a wasp nest on the top floor which caused two staffers to be stung.
Video of the Week: The "Halloween Bug"
This week's video concerns Asian ladybugs -- the species Harmonia axyridis. These ladybugs are a headache for homeowners because they like to spend the winter indoors in large clusters, and emit a foul stench if they are disturbed. Since their infestation usually occurs in late October, and some of them are more orange than red, they are sometimes referred to as "Halloween Bugs".
Here's a recent article about Asian ladybugs from an Illinois newspaper, and here's a link to some archived blog entries about Asian ladybugs.
And here's a video of a news report from last year's ladybug invasion in Lawrence, Kansas:
Wasps & yellowjacket attacks make news
Here's a roundup of late summer yellowjacket and wasp stories from around the U.S.
Clark County, WA: Yellowjackets wage attack (A 14-year old girl gets stung, then notices her two small dogs covered in yellowjackets.)
Bethesda, MD: Wasps buzz in, postal carriers bug out
Angola, IN: The neighborhood is buzzing now that I'm back (A columnist details her experience of finding yellowjackets swarming inside her bathroom and a nest inside her house wall.)
Madison Township, OH: Yellowjackets attack beagle (The poor dog suffered an allergic reaction to about 150 stings and had to be put down.)
Vermilion, OH: Speeder's defense: Dozens of wasp stings (Pulled over for speeding, a man had just suffered 30 to 50 wasp stings and was trying to rush to the hospital on his motorcycle. He collapsed when the officer detained him, but a police cruiser was able to get him to the Emergency Room in time.)
Eau Claire, WI: Man dies from wasp sting (Devastating story. A man saw a nail sticking up from his deck and pounded it back in with a hammer. Little did he know there was a wasp nest underneath. He collapsed after a single sting on his elbow.)
Cape May, NJ: Cape May beachgoers bugged (Wasps are living in the sand dunes and dive-bombing tourists.)
Brazil, IN: Yellowjackets and bees nearing peak
Bismarck, ND: Wasp and yellowjacket season is just beginning (Says Judy Carlson of the Department of Agriculture, "A lot of people wonder if it's a wasp or a hornet or a yellowjacket" that's bothering them.)Psst! Hey Judy! That's why they need W*H*Y!
Video of the Week: "Rescue 911 - Yellowjacket Attack"
This week's video is from that old gem of a program, "Rescue 911" -- complete with cheesy reenactments and William Shatner's narration. But it's eerily similar to the true story that we portrayed in our RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap testimonial ads, posted here earlier this month.
Video of the Week: The danger of a single yellowjacket sting
My 3-year old nephew in Reno was stung three times by a yellowjacket earlier this week. Poor little guy! Though he cried from the pain of the stings, thankfully he did not have an allergic reaction.
Greg Romey didn't fare so well years ago when he was stung by a yellowjacket. The 6-foot-4 husband and father was outside in his Spokane Valley yard when a yellowjacket got him on the ankle. Within minutes, he was dizzy and his breathing became labored. His wife, Ann, got him in their van and raced to the Emergency Room, about 8 minutes away. By that time, Greg's heart had stopped. Thanks to the quick work of the doctors, they revived him in the hospital. Afterward, he met with a doctor who told him of the severity of his allergy to yellowjacket stings and warned him that if he was stung again, he would have only five minutes to get medical treatment instead of ten. Greg left the hospital armed with some Epinephrine pens, and also a recommendation from the allergy doctor to protect the perimeter of his home by using RESCUE! Yellowjacket Traps.
Our company president, Rod Schneidmiller, met Greg back in 2001, seemingly by chance, at a junior high basketball game. Upon discovering that Rod owned the company that made the traps, Greg said, "Those traps saved my life!".
Well, maybe we didn't save Greg's life that day, but we did save Greg's outdoor lifestyle and that of his family. Greg, Ann and their kids like to do all the things active families enjoy during the summer -- barbecuing, camping, boating, gardening, etc. Without an effective way to control yellowjackets, Greg's deadly allergy would keep him and the family trapped inside the house.
You can't get a better testimonial than Greg's, and that's why we made it into two TV commercials -- one from Greg's perspective, and the other from Ann's.
The bats went down to Georgia
Some beautiful historic homes in Americus, Georgia have been overrun by bats. Thankfully, many homeowners are finding relief by calling the resident Batman in town.
I learned while reading this article that bats are a protected species in Georgia and it's against the law to kill them. So if I had been living in Georgia and found four bats in my house on four separate occasions like I did last summer, I could have faced up to four years in jail and a $4000 fine. Insane.
H.O.U.S.: Hornets of Unusual Size
From unusually large stinging insect nests to unusually large stinging insects... Meet the Japanese giant hornet. Or not. I wouldn't want to. With a three-inch wingspan and a quarter-inch stinger, this is the world's largest wasp.
Here's an account of one woman's dilemma concerning some active wasp nests in her garage. When it gets to that point, the only thing you can do is spray... and run.
No pest news is good pest news
By this time last year, I had posted twice about my own pest horror stories involving bats... not in my belfry, but in the living space of my house -- which was much too close for comfort.
So far this year, I can knock on all the old wood I plan to refinish in my 1908 bungalow and say that I have not seen a single bat -- nor any evidence thereof.
As a matter of fact, in our neck of the woods it's been a slow year for pests. With a wet spring and cold June weather, the yellowjackets have not become established as they usually do when it's dry and warm. Usually in May I would find a few sleepy yellowjacket queens waking up in my house and looking for the nearest exit to get out and get busy on their nest-building. But all I've seen in my living room have been several fat, fuzzy bumblebees -- which were easily scooped up and set free outside.
The only other sighting has been a couple of slimy slugs in my basement. These are disgusting enough when you see them outside in your garden, but the ick factor of finding them inside is tenfold. I suppose the dampness attracted them. They're easily taken care of, however. Their slow movement makes it simple to go upstairs to the kitchen and return with the salt shaker.
Bats deserve a little love?
This article in the Detriot Free Press says that "bats are gentle animals and avoid contact with people as much as possible."
Hmmm. Then how do you explain the four bats I've found on the main floor of my house this spring and summer?
It is interesting that a single bat can eat 500-600 mosquitoes per hour and that it eats about half its body weight in bugs each night. Perhaps these bats think that, because I work for an insect trap company, I have a bunch of bugs in my house?
I'm constantly wondering if I'll ever solve the mystery of how they are getting into the house.
Baffled by the bats
Had an interesting morning earlier this week. I got up at 5 and when I went downstairs, found A DEAD BAT ON MY LIVING ROOM FLOOR!
I was standing by my dining room table when I saw it. At first, I thought it was a clump of my cat Cosette's fur. (She pulls clumps of it out when she grooms herself.) But this was too big to be just fur. My other cat, Heathcliff, started moving towards it and I screamed at him. It was too early to get the neighbors, and I wasn't about to touch the thing myself, so I locked the cats in the bathroom and went outside for my run. When I got back, next-door neighbors Dale and Rhonda were up. Dale pulled on his work gloves for a fourth time and got the bat out of the house and into a box.
This is bat number four, for those who are keeping track.
Matt from Skunkworks and I had been certain we had figured out where they were getting in the main part of the house: a short doorway to an attic crawlspace at the top of the stairs. I had stuffed a towel under there to seal it off. But the towel was undisturbed. There apparently was another way the bats got into the main part of the house. But how, and where?
He came back to the house that night and looked around again inside with a flashlight, hunting for any crevice that may have provided bat entry. But the search provided no answers. He is as baffled as I am. It's not very comforting.
As if that weren't strange enough, my friend Kevin told me that someone at work found a dead bat on the floor of their break room the very same day!
Very creepy. Very unsettling.
It's been a while since my last bat update, so now's a good time to check in on that topic. Matt from Skunkworks, our local bat removal specialist, came back to my house on a Friday afternoon for an outside inspection. I happened to be off work that day and was on the second floor when I was startled by heavy footsteps on the roof.
Upon inspection, the west side of the house appeared to be sealed up tight, but on the east side there were a few crevices where dormers came out from the roof. Some possible spaces where a bat could enter and exit, but no definite sign (i.e., guano or urine) pointing to one location.
Part 2 of this outside inspection was what I called "BatWatch." Matt came back that evening with a coworker, Stacy, just before 9 p.m., when it started to get dark. The two of them staked out opposite corners on the east side of the house. I stood with Matt in the front yard. We watched and waited quietly. As it got a little darker, a gentle wind picked up. He said this usually signals their flight to begin. The question was: How many bats, if any, would emerge from the roof? Matt has counted as many as 600 bats stream out of an infested house. A huge number like that wasn't likely to be in mine, thankfully, since the inside inspection failed to turn up anything.
More waiting. I glanced around at the other houses on my street, wondering if any neighbors were curious why we were standing in the dark and staring at the roof. Then Matt spoke up. "There's one flying!" I cringed and looked to the side of the house, where he had pointed his flashlight. I saw nothing. It took about a minute until I finally spotted the bat to which he was referring, now circling high overhead above the pine trees. We didn't see any others after watching a few minutes more. The window of time for their emergence from the house, if there had been any others, was over.
One bat. After finding three in the house, on three separate occasions this spring, I had feared that there were hundreds living in my attic. So compared to this worst-case scenario, one bat is a relief.
The only thing Matt didn't see, which was important, was where it emerged. It will take another daytime inspection of my roof to figure that out. Matt hasn't been back for that yet. I haven't thought about the bat much in recent weeks, but last night as I drifted to sleep by my open second-story window, I heard something fly by and emit a few high-pitched "eee-eee-eee" squeaks. The bat? I think so. I'll be giving Matt a call.
Waiting for "Batman" to come back
Some readers have asked for an update on my bat situation. I don't have anything new to share, other than I'm waiting for our local "Batman" (the bat removal guy) to return for the outside inspection of the house (which is performed at dusk to see if any fly out at that time). It has been nearly three weeks since the inside inspection, and although I haven't seen or heard any bat activity, I am getting impatient -- especially since I paid for the entire job up front on July 1 and I can't seem to get a straight answer on when the outside inspection can be completed.
Sorry -- I'm a little on edge after reading this story.
Because of my bat situation and how it's affected me, I've been giving thought this week to the emotional response that one has when a pest of any sort -- be it bats, yellowjackets, mice, cockroaches, termites -- invades your home. It's a lot like the feeling you have when your home is burglarized (something that's happened to me as well). You feel violated. You're fearful. And you get angry because home is supposed to be a place of refuge, and something or someone has destroyed the peace that you normally feel there. You can't relax because you're too worried about seeing another one of the dreaded creatures. Extermination of a serious problem is usually very costly, and it's an expenditure on which you hadn't planned.
Emotions got the better of me this week as my fear from going inside my own house led to tears of frustration. At times I felt like it was affecting my mental health as I envisioned walking in and seeing hundreds of bats in my living room. Bats were foremost on my mind before anything else. A simple "How are you?" by a friend would elicit a heavy sigh from me and an explanation of my bat problem.
Jason, my neighbor who helped with the bats, used to live in Austin, Texas. That area had many bats, but the big problem Austin residents had in their homes was scorpions. He tells a story of when he once put on a long-sleeved shirt from his closet, then felt something moving up his arm from underneath the shirt -- it was a scorpion. He had to remain very still so it wouldn't sting him while it crawled up his shoulder and out the neckline of the shirt, when he could finally flick it off.
My next-door neighbors had a mouse problem over the winter that exasperated them. Thankfully, my two cats have kept our house mouse-free. And at least with the bats, the females have only one "pup" a year -- unlike mice, who reproduce rapidly and exponentially.
When I read about the Oklahoma family who found 20,000 bees living underneath the floorboards of their home earlier this week, I empathized with them. They have to move out of their historic 1930s house indefinitely while someone tears out and destroys what are probably beautiful hardwood floors to remove the bees.
It seems that just about everyone has a story about a major pest problem that has affected them in their home. My boss had to call an exterminator for squirrels in his attic. My parents recently found a killer bee hive in the valve box for their irrigation system. I know of several people (myself included) who have found yellowjacket nests within their walls. At trade shows, I've heard the desperation in many voices when people tell me about the Asian ladybugs overwintering in their houses.
This is why I think it's so appropriate that the brand name for our line of pest control products is RESCUE! If you've ever dealt with an invasive pest issue that's gotten the better of you emotionally, rescue is exactly what you need.
Have you ever dealt with a pest problem in your house like any I've described? You can tell us about it by posting a comment here. Know that you have a sympathetic ear in me, RESCUE! and this blog.
A small victory
Sometimes it feels good to face your fears. I was able to sleep in my house last night for the first time since Sunday (the third bat sighting). I did leave the lights on, however. There were no problems -- I didn't hear or see any bat activity. I may need to wait a full week until the outside inspection of the house is completed, so I'll face a few more nights of sleeping with the lights on.
Banishing the bats, part 1
Here's the post-inspection update on the bat situation (see "More battiness" on 5/30/2005).
Good news: The situation is not as bad as I feared or imagined. Matt from Skunkworks found no more bats in my attic, which is the most likely place from which they are getting into my house.
I have an old house -- a 1908 Craftsman Bungalow. It has 1-1/2 stories of living space, and most of the upstairs is finished with two bedrooms and a bathroom. However, there are a few unfinished nooks, crannies and crawlspaces that are closed off from the living space but accessible from the inside -- and probably from the outside as well. The attic gets stiflingly warm in the summer, and this past weekend it was very warm, as the daytime temps climbed up into the high 80s.
He did find a small number of old bat droppings in the attic space at the top of my stairs. It's plausible that they came into the house from here and flew downstairs to the main floor where I found them. There is a small door leading to this space, with about a 1-1/2 inch gap at the bottom of the door. I stuffed a towel into this gap to temporarily seal it off.
The bats I had in my house (he identified the bodies of the bats caught by my neighbors Dale and Jason) were big brown bats, which are fairly common in North America. They like warm spaces, with the ideal temperature being 120 degrees. Big brown bats have much smaller colonies than little brown bats -- the number could be under a dozen. This is good news as well. I had envisioned a horror scene of hundreds of critters roosting in the attic.
According to Matt, these bats may have been spending the colder months in Mexico and are just making their way back up to the Northwest. This is where it gets freaky. Apparently bats from the same colony may not always travel together, but they will take the same path and find the same house once a few have established it as their home. So even though there are no bats in there today, if a few from the same colony make their way up here, they will hone in on exactly the same place.
For the time being, our weather has cooled off into the 60s with rain, so there shouldn't be any activity until it warms up again. The inspection will need to be completed next week with an examination of the outside from the roof area, and an observation of the possible entrance/exit at dusk, when they wake up and begin flying.
Once that part of the inspection is done and conclusions are drawn, the plan will be to seal up all possible outside entrances -- making sure no bats are trapped inside.
After the house is sealed, I'm having the exterior painted later this month. This was already in my plans, but my neighbor and I joked that the bats just won't recognize the house if it's a different color!
So I should be safe from any bat movement in my house through the weekend, according to Matt. I haven't decided, however, if I feel confident enough in that assessment to unpack my bag and resume sleeping there at night.
By the way, much of what he told me seems to contradict what I've found in various searches on the internet. It seems that the more I read, the more uneasy I feel because of differing information such as the size of the colonies, where they migrate and so forth. So I've decided to refrain from any more Google searches and just trust in what he told me as the local expert.