UPDATE: Moments after I wrote this piece, I saw a story about a new invasive hornet from Asia, nicknamed the MURDER HORNET. The NY Times has a write up detailing just how awful this 2" big bee-killer can be. It's been spotted in Washington State. 

These little yellow bastards are back in full force around Montana. I noticed a few buzzing around a couple of weeks ago and now they are back will all their stingy little friends. Honey bees are harmless and it's beneficial to have them buzzing around the dandelions in my yard. But the yellowjackets. Oh man. I hate them.

There are a few different wasp species in Montana, most of which are rarely aggressive, according to this excellent bee and wasp report from Montana State University. The two biggest stingers are the Western Yellow Jacket and the Bald Faced Hornet. Both build paper nest above ground and are known for aggressively defending their territory. Only the females have stingers. It's always the ladies that get you.

InsectIdentification.org describes the Western Yellow Jacket as the world's worst picnic guest.

Attracted to sugars in beverages and desserts, the Western Yellowjacket makes itself the worst kind of pest during cookouts and outdoor gatherings. Females have stingers and they are not afraid to use them. This species aggressively defends its nest, and exterminators can remove one from areas where people may come into contact with it. Under no circumstances should a nest be disturbed. They are often built on or near the ground.

Alright, so let's get rid of them. You can make various traps out of plastic pop bottles and a little bit of craft skills. Here is one fairly simple example.

Local hardware stores and box stores carry a variety of wasp traps as well if you'd rather buy one or prefer a trap that doesn't resemble trash hanging from your porch. This style from the RESCUE company seems most popular.

Credit: RESCUE Sterling Internation, Inc.

GOT STUNG?

When you or one of the kids get stung (because it's not "if" it's when) there are some things you can do to relieve the pain. Number one, don't waste your time trying to dig out the stinger. The Yellow Jacket doesn't leave it behind. They need it to come back and sting you another day. VeryWellHealth.com says when you get stung, you should do this:

  1. Wash the sting site with soap and water.
  2. Apply a cold pack to the sting to reduce the pain. To avoid damaging your skin from the cold, place a cloth barrier between your skin and the ice pack. Keep the pack moving, and avoid icing the skin for more than 20 minutes.
  3. Apply a topical antihistamine or calamine lotion to the skin.
  4. If needed, take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine like Benadryl(diphenhydramine) to relieve mild itching and swelling. Avoid driving or using heavy machinery as the drug may cause drowsiness.

Here are some tips if your pet gets stung.