Yellowjackets, Killer Bees and Other Stinging Insects Pose Increased Threat in Late Summer & Fall

FAIRFAX, Va. (August 16, 2010)The late summer and early fall are popular times to spend outdoors at barbeques or completing home maintenance projects. But it's also the season that stinging insects - including yellowjackets, wasps and Africanized "killer" bees are most active and aggressive, leading to an increased number of stings. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reports that more than 500,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year due to insect stings, and reminds people to take caution to protect themselves this season.

"By the late summer, stinging insects colonies can contain upwards of 4,000 members," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Most species are busy preparing their queen for the winter ahead, and therefore are more aggressive than earlier in the season."

One of the most common stinging insects is the yellowjacket, which build nests on tress and buildings as well as in the ground. Yellowjackets can sting several times, although they not normally aggressive unless their nest is threatened. Wasps, however, are known for their unprovoked aggression. They commonly nest on ceiling beams in attics, garages and sheds. Africanized "killer" bees are often confused with honeybees, but their venom is more dangerous and the species is known for attacking in large numbers if their nest is threatened. They can nest in strange places such as tires and empty cars.

NPMA offers the following tips for avoiding stinging insects:

  • Wear shoes when outdoors, especially in grassy areas.
  • Keep windows and doors screened.
  • Keep garbage in sealed receptacles.
  • Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.
  • If stung, seek immediate medical attention as reactions can be severe.
  • Call a pest professional if you find a nest on your property or suspect an infestation.

For more information or to find a local pest professional, visit:

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.