We’ve been plagued by yellow jackets this summer. Colonies start in spring, grow through summer, and continue to expand during fall. Their nests are built with chewed wood pulp mixed with saliva and built in the eaves of our homes (as well as wood piles, tree cavities, dense ivy…) They even use abandoned rodent burrows. Don’t go barefoot if you’ve spotted yellow jackets in your yard! I spotted a nest in our eaves right above our sliding glass door to the back yard. Good motivation for getting up early so you can knock it down before the dozen buzzer-biters wake up. Victory! They surprised me a few days later when I found another nest inside our outdoor electrical panel. It was mid-day and hot and they flew like fighter jets – but not as fast as I did! Yellow jackets can sting more than once! Swatting them only makes them madder.
I was ready to blast them with a hose, then decided not to electrocute myself. Aaron’s Army came and took ‘em out.
You can’t have a risk-free BBQ or picnic with yellow jackets around. They love meat as much as (most) humans do. They also like sugary drinks. I’ve heard of people taking a big swig from a soda can and ending up with a yellow jacket in their mouth. Yikes!! It’s not just food that attracts their attention. Yellow jackets like brightly colored clothing, perfume, hair spray. I don’t have to worry. I wear grubbies when I work in the yard, a black bathing suit when I swim. Perfume and hair spray are reserved for outings elsewhere than outside in our backyard. If I have a scent after a few hours of pruning, weeding, digging, dead-heading, it’s not sweet. It’s sweat.
The good news: yellow jackets die out in the winter and the nests deteriorate — although the mated queen survives and begins the colonization in spring.
How do you avoid being stung? Do not disturb nests. Don’t go barefoot. Don’t swat a yellow jacket. Keep garbage away from your living area and covered. Check what you put in your mouth! Avoid using what attracts the winged beasties. If you see many yellow jackets, leave the area – quickly! When stung, wash with soap and water. Unless you have an adverse reaction and end up in the ER.
Yellow jackets remind me of sin. It’s there – tucked into secret places. We go in and out without noticing the little nest growing close by. We hear the buzzing, and it sends off warning signals, but we ignore them. Even more dangerous, we get so used to them, we think there’s no problem – and pay the price later. We often attempt to coexist until we’re stung. We swat them away, only to have them swarm back, in greater numbers, stinging again and again.
If we don’t examine ourselves carefully and change course to please the God who made and loves us, sin can build a thriving, destructive nest and colonize.