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What Should You Do When Wasps Attack?

By Chris Williams on August 6, 2014.

yellow jacket You’ve no doubt heard all kinds of conflicting advice on this topic. Run away! Don’t run away! Is there a scientific consensus of opinion on the best way to get away from angry wasps? Sort of.

Prevention is the Better Part of Valour

You should go to great lengths to avoid finding yourself in this situation in the first place. Some people say you should not wear perfumes or colognes that might attract bees and wasps, or you should avoid wearing bright colors that make you look like a flower. There is no scientific evidence that any of these precautions make any difference to wasps. Bees and wasps don’t see colors or react to scents the way humans do.

There are, though, simple behaviors that can reduce your family’s chances of coming face-to-face with yellowjackets and other wasps. The best way to avoid a confrontation with yellowjackets is to find their nests and have them safely eliminated by an exterminator. Check out these Colonial Pest blogs:

The Right Response Depends on the Level of Attack

If you are confronted by just a couple of pesky yellowjackets, say at a picnic, don’t swipe or swat at them. If they land on you, gently brush them off. Your chances of being stung are much less if you move slowly and deliberately, not quickly.

What if, despite all your precautions, you find that you have disturbed a yellowjacket nest? If the wasps are looking agitated but haven’t attacked, experts say you should walk slowly away while covering your face with both hands.  Rapid movements will agitate the yellowjackets further. If you move slowly away, the wasps may not perceive you as a serious threat. But, if angry wasps are already pouring out of a nest opening heading in your direction, this is no time for deliberate movement. Run like the dickens while protecting your face. Quickly get into a vehicle or building, or head towards dense vegetation.

Once away from the wasps, don’t assume you’re safe. Yellowjackets will cling to clothing or shoes, or your hat, and crawl under clothing and into folds of fabric. Carefully check your clothing.

If you end up being stung by attacking wasps, click here: “Making That Wasp or Bee Sting Feel Better!” And if you need professional help in getting rid of wasp nests, click here to read about Colonial’s wasp and hornet elimination services.

Photo credit: Sam Droege / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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