Along the Oregon coast we often have ground hornet nests near our home. Vespula pensylvanica. I thought I would write about hornets today because our dog disturbed a ground nest of Yellow Jackets. And was very confused when she came under attack. So let's talk about these fearsome flying wasps, hornets, and yellow Jackets. Oh my.
Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets
Our Dogs behavior was very similar to a person’s reaction that does not have a lot of experience with the sting and intense pain that follows a swarming yellow jackets. Or as we call them in California, meat bees.
The swarming and stinging occurs because we have inadvertently disturbed a nest by accidentally stepping upon or walking onto it. When hornets are disturbed they become very agitated and immediately attack with ferocious intensity!
Bella, our dog did not understand what was happening. All she knew was that she was in a lot of pain but did not know why; yet. I recognized what was happening immediately, and motioned and yelled to her to run! She did, and that saved her from more hornet attacks.
Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jacket's
Having had a lot of exposure to ground hornets all my life, I have created an instant response to an attack. Which means I run like heck! However, it is a controlled run, not a panic, big difference!
Good Advice if Attacked by Ground Hornets
My advice is, if you even think you are being attacked by ground hornets. Stop whatever you are doing. Move away from the location of the encounter as quickly as possible. If you have babies or young children, pick them up immediately cover them with your arms and move as fast as possible from the immediate area.
I have read a recommendation that you should take off your shirt and cover your face with it and run. Not a good idea. You can't run safely when you can't see where you are going. Just run! 40-50 yards should be enough distance. If not, keep running until there are no more bees around.
Ground hornets unlike honeybees generally will not follow you too far. Though unlike honeybees, hornets do not die after they sting or bite. They will continue to sting as long as they are on your body. Many people have or can develop an allergic reaction to the bees venom. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC
Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jacket's. The benefit's
I have a lot of respect for these winged warriors, and they are important for pollination and maintaining a good healthy insect balance. Bears and raccoons enjoy raiding ground hornet nests.
The ground hornet nest at the very top of the page was also torn into by a black bear. Bears on the coast will sniff out these ground nests. And raid them. Eating the hornets and the insects larvae until the nests are gone.
To Sum it up Bee Aware
Pay attention out there. Moreover, if you are picnicking or barbecuing, leave some juicy meat for the hornets to feast on away from the table, and they just may leave you alone. Watch those bare feet and check your soda and beer can before drinking! You might just find a Bee imbibing.