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Coyote Peterson’s Brave Wilderness Testing: Stung by a Yellow Jacket or European Paper Wasp

Sat August 26 2017 8:03 pm
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Yellow Jackets are active this time of year, and Coyote Peterson of Brave Wilderness gives some real world experience with a Yellow Jacket sting.

Coyote Peterson has been stung by a lot more painful stings on his YouTube channel (see STINGS playlist below), but this episode teaches about an encounter that is possible in almost any residential area, involving a lot of people — a yellowjacket sting.

WARNING: Videos depict actions that could be dangerous, and precautions are taken to be prepared to counter deadly anaphylactic shock

The formal and colloquial naming of hornets and wasps and yellowjackets is very confusing. Yellowjackets are a generic term for any wasp-like insect that is black and yellow. All hornets are technically wasps, but all wasps are not hornets. The only true hornet known in the United States is the European Hornet. The Bald-Faced Hornet, which is black-and-white and aggressive near their nest, is black-and-white, but it is not a true hornet — it’s a wasp.

Wasps are any insect in the order of Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. The most commonly known wasps, such as yellowjackets and hornets, are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial, which means they live together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. The largest social wasp in the world is the Asian giant hornet, with queens growing up to 2.0 inches in length. The largest social wasp in Europe and North America is the European Hornet, growing to about 1.4 inch. European Hornets are present in Illinois, but their distribution is more common in New York (where they are believed to have been introduced to the United States in the 1800s), Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and states nearby.

Eusocial wasps live in contrast to solitary or parasitoidal wasps, such as the Killer Cicada Wasp, which catches Cicadas, drags them into their burrow in the ground, and lays their eggs inside the Cicada. The wasp larvae eventually kill their host. The Killer Cicada Wasp, because of its large size () is also sometimes mistaken for an Asian Giant Hornet, even though the two wasps don’t look similar.

Yellowjackets often get especially busy this type of year as the daylight shortens in late summer and early fall when their food is in diminishing supply and human picnics provide a source of food. Various species of these common insects are distributed in the United States, but the European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula), which Coyote Peterson identified here, was not recorded in wide distribution in North America prior to 1981. The European Paper Wasp is commonly called a wasp or yellowjacket, but P. dominula wasn’t around the United States much or at all before it was first discovered near Boston, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the late 1970s. The various species of yellowjackets (Vespula vulgaris, Vespula germanica and others) look very similar in size and markings. Yellowjackets grow to about 0.5 to 0.7 inches.

Peterson claims that picnic food is usually attacked by hornets, but we’ve seen yellowjackets invade picnics. They like meat and watermelon — proteins and sweets. Yellowjackets can be helpful or harmful in farming. They’re helpful when they eat cabbage worms that feed on broccoli and brussel sprouts, but they’re harmful when they eat fruit crops and endanger humans at work in the farms.

European Hornet (Vespa crabro) stings are more painful than yellowjacket stings — possibly because of the presence of about 5% acetylcholine in European Hornet venom.

The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) lives in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia, China, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indochina, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, but is most commonly found in the mountains of Japan, where they are commonly known as the Giant Sparrow Bee. The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) is a subspecies of the world’s largest hornet, the Asian giant hornet (V. mandarinia).

Asian Giant Hornet stings are considered to cause 30–50 human deaths annually in Japan. Also, between July and September 2013, hornet stings caused the death of 42 people in China.

The National Bee Unit in the United Kingdom reports that in 2016, the Asian hornet was discovered in the UK for the first time, in Tetbury. After 10 days of intensive searching, the nest was found and later destroyed and on the same day, a single hornet was discovered in a bait trap in North Somerset. Genetic analysis has confirmed that the hornet nest found in Tetbury and the dead hornet found in North Somerset were of the same genetic population (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) as those which came from Eastern China to France. Although we cannot rule out the hornet arriving directly from the same area in China, we believe this is highly unlikely.

— National Bee Unit

There are unclear reports about Asian Giant Hornets in Europe, and apparently media sources tend to confuse the Asian Giant Hornet with the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax), also known as the Asian Predatory Wasp. The National Bee Unit in the United Kingdom reports that an Asian Hornet nest, not an Asian Giant Hornet nest, was discovered in 2016.

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See also …
Orkin What is the Difference Between Wasps and Hornets?

Penn State College of Sciences Agricultural Extension European Paper Wasp Polistes dominula, Vespidae

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The European Hornet is the largest North American hornet, and is often mistakenly feared to be an Asian Giant Hornet, which is not confirmed to be distributed in the United States.

Asian Giant Hornet: The stinger of the Asian Giant Hornet is 1/4 inch long (almost half the length of a yellowjacket) and because it has no barb, the Asian Giant Hornet, which can grow up to 2 inches long, is able to sting it’s victims multiple times just like yellow jackets, but the venom is a greater volume and more toxins and noxious chemicals.



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