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  #1  
Old 08-03-2015, 05:57 AM
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Wasp attack

Got lit up in a big way by wasps for the first time Saturday. Had one or two stings a few times over the years but this was my first swarm attack by any sort of stinging insect in that order. I was working on a semi-rural house in Orinda. It's up a steep and not short driveway. The fools who plumbed it way back when didn't put a shut off valve up where the pipe enters the house, so to replace some supply valves I had to turn it off at the meter on the street, which is another not short walk uphill from the bottom of the driveway.

The lot is sort of triangular, at the end of the house I was working on it's quite close to the shutoff, just down a rugged set of switchbacks not used too often. But it sort of looked like a trail and their was a gap in the fence right there. Much vegetation and I had to snake under a pipe.

But down I go and in no time felt a stinging on my ear. Then one on my hand, and I'm thinking, nettles, poison oak? I couldn't yet see or hear wasps. Then it became clear as a bunch were just all around me. I still had a bit of a scramble down to the street, made it as quick as I could and began moving quickly away, killing wasps for all I was worth the whole time. They were going for my ears, scalp, neck, hands and wrists. I was rubbing my hands furiously over my scalp, ears, and neck, alternated with swatting them on my hands and wrist.

These suckers would not give up. 50 yards away a few were still trying to get in. One that I rubbed off was still moving on the street, I stepped on it lightly as I didn't want to crush it. When I finally killed or chased off the last of them I scooped that one up:



Definitely a yellow jacket. I must have stepped on the entrance to a large nest. Very little foot traffic there. Probably well established.

Not an experience I'll soon forget. The experience of stings coming faster than I could hope to respond to with swatting was some freaky stuff, I don't mind telling you. My scalp, ears, hands and forearms were all painful and itchy. Still itchy 2 days later. I've read of much worse attacks. Rough guess mine was maybe a 3 or 4 on the one to ten scale.

The weird thing was I had a hard time relaxing for maybe 30 minutes after. I kept thinking I could feel one settling in.

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Old 08-03-2015, 06:38 AM
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I hate those things. I was canoeing one time and stepped on the entrance to a nest with long pants on. The things flew up my pant leg and tore my leg up.

This made me think of the experience:

https://youtu.be/B8JJsNQoIDc?t=1m41s
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  #3  
Old 08-03-2015, 07:36 AM
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Nasty. Not experienced a swarm attack like that.
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  #4  
Old 08-03-2015, 09:54 AM
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Ouch! Time to go back with some accelerant and a torch
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:47 AM
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Been there too

Certainly no fun. A few years ago we had several invasions of paper wasps, setting up nests under the eaves of our shed and under fence rails. One nest was even behind the tail light of our old '85 Ford truck where they came swarming out while I was loading up stuff for a dump run.

In all cases, the ferocity was incredible. The biggest nest was about 7 inches across, good for about 50-75.

Now I always keep a couple of cans of wasp spray near where I'm working, plus one can in the console of the truck.

Get the kind that shoots 20 feet, the stuff knocks them down pretty quickly. It's best to hit them when it's getting toward nightfall the the air temps are lower, and most importantly, they are all back at the nest after a day's foraging.

If you kill a nest and knock it down during the day, the workers will come back later looking for home.
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Old 08-03-2015, 01:32 PM
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I stirred up a nest once cutting firewood. Dropped the chainsaw with it still running. They swarmed it and didnt chase me. Came back a few hours later to get my saw and it was literally full of bees. I had to take it apart to clean them out of the flywheel and cylinder fins.
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  #7  
Old 08-03-2015, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simpler=Better View Post
Ouch! Time to go back with some accelerant and a torch
It's a tempting thought but no can do. The vegetation is dry and thick enough such that a fire would take off in a hurry. I had a vise grip with me to turn the water valve and dropped it. When I couldn't find my little head-light flashlight I realized I must have left it on my head and flung it off while swatting wasps.

About 20 minutes later I carefully climbed up from below and luckily found them both. There was a thick cover of some sort of morning glory and they could have easily been hard to find. I looked to the area where I think the nest might have been and couldn't see it, the hole in the earth that is.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 08-03-2015 at 02:17 PM.
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  #8  
Old 08-03-2015, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarTek View Post
I hate those things. I was canoeing one time and stepped on the entrance to a nest with long pants on. The things flew up my pant leg and tore my leg up.

This made me think of the experience:

https://youtu.be/B8JJsNQoIDc?t=1m41s
I had on a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves half rolled up. I was trying to roll them down and button them but the wasps kept getting up the sleeves, and then I needed to check my scalp intermittently so buttoning those suckers was tough.

Dang, up a pant leg would be tough.

Never saw any of the Hunger Games franchise. Pretty wild.
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  #9  
Old 08-03-2015, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Stanley View Post
Certainly no fun. A few years ago we had several invasions of paper wasps, setting up nests under the eaves of our shed and under fence rails. One nest was even behind the tail light of our old '85 Ford truck where they came swarming out while I was loading up stuff for a dump run.

In all cases, the ferocity was incredible. The biggest nest was about 7 inches across, good for about 50-75.

Now I always keep a couple of cans of wasp spray near where I'm working, plus one can in the console of the truck.

Get the kind that shoots 20 feet, the stuff knocks them down pretty quickly. It's best to hit them when it's getting toward nightfall the the air temps are lower, and most importantly, they are all back at the nest after a day's foraging.

If you kill a nest and knock it down during the day, the workers will come back later looking for home.
Might ought to get a can of that. So what happens when the workers come back? I'm guessing they would make a new home.

I was reading that they make their nests out of wood fibers they've found and chewed to make into a sort of pulp.

Once I opened the door to the gas cap on my Chev van. It had been sitting a while and a paper nest was hanging next to the cap. Flipped it off and crushed the poor things at the gas station. Must not have been enough wind under the cap to rouse them while on the road.
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Old 08-03-2015, 02:44 PM
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Why again didn't you call an exterminator? The guy working on my old house stopped and told me to call one then call him back.
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  #11  
Old 08-03-2015, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
It's a tempting thought but no can do. The vegetation is dry and thick enough such that a fire would take off in a hurry. I had a vise grip with me to turn the water valve and dropped it. When I couldn't find my little head-light flashlight I realized I must have left it on my head and flung it off while swatting wasps.

About 20 minutes later I carefully climbed up from below and luckily found them both. There was a thick cover of some sort of morning glory and they could have easily been hard to find. I looked to the area where I think the nest might have been and couldn't see it, the hole in the earth that is.
I had them under my concrete porch one year and was kinda freaking out over the possibility of having to hire a pro. I found out they don't nest in the same place again, which made me wonder how the heck do they survive winter and start over. They were right, next spring, no yellows. Maybe wait it out.

I got hit several years in a row and each time my response was worse and worse, Doc told me I was building a reaction and might have to carry one of those injection kits......I give those boys a wide berth now, haven't had any stings in 10 or so years.
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Old 08-03-2015, 02:54 PM
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That's terrible. We had a bunch of small nests by our old house, the wasp/hornet killers work great. They even make a "natural" or whatever brand you can get at the big box stores, shoots a good six to ten feet.


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Old 08-03-2015, 03:50 PM
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Not the non chlorine stuff but the real brake cleaner works better and faster
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  #14  
Old 08-03-2015, 03:52 PM
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Over the counter Benadryl will lessen the over sensitization of your skin from all the wasp venom.

When I was a teenager I participate in the activity of technical rock climbing, we'd take weekend trips to "The Gunks" in the Shawnagunk Ridge near New Paltz, New York.

Back in those days there were no manufactured climbing harnesses you used a length of 1" wide flat nylon, the loop was positioned so that it went around your waist and between your legs, you clipped it together using a locking carabineer. Your climbing rope used a knotted loop at its end that was also clipped to that locking biner when you were on belay.

Climbing a moderate 5. something route of 3 or 4 pitches total maybe 100 feet vertically, get started up the first pitch setting protection every 8-10 feet, three or four points in get to the tiny ledge maybe 30 feet off the deck where a very good solid point can be set with a web runner wrapped around a small stone spire. As I'm get the runner placed around the spire the first sting hits followed shortly by more. MY climbing partner is belaying me and see's what's happening, starts shouting "just fall I've got you! Jump!" I manage to clip my rope into the biner on the runner and just sort of push myself off the rock face. Initial drop was about 5 foot which can be pretty jarring, even though we were using the original Plymouth GoldLine a hard laid braided rope with lots of elongation built into it. The force of the drop nearly upends my belayer yanking him off his feet, after a moment he's able to regain his position and start to try to lower me but this was at the early days of the figure 8 rappel belay devices and we didn't have one but used a plate with a slot to brake the rope as it ran through a biner. Needless to say the descent was a comedy of trying to unjam the belay while not dropping me all the way down as I was tyring to remain upright and defend against more stings.

Got to the deck scrapped and banged up a bit, stung probably 19 times already and the yellow jackets still in hot pursuit! Now the both of us are on the ground being attacked by the swarm, BUT still tied into the cliff belay points with the rope's ends attached to our waists with either a well cinched knot that had to be untied or a locking biner that had to be manipulated open to get free in order to run away! I had the least amount of slack rope and my buddy had already run to the end of the slack and was feverously trying to separate himself from the rope, every time either of us moved very much it yanked the other guy around who was also trying to get separated from the rope which held us in the yellow jacket cloud! It was like a comedic scene from a Road Runner cartoon!

Finally got free and ran probably a 1/4 mile to get away from the swarm, left the rope hanging and our protections in place until we went back a day later at night and recovered the rope and most of the protection I'd placed, I said screw the last sling runner at the top near the nest.

Ended up getting stung about thirty times, got a box of baking soda at the nearby general store to work into a paste to put on the stings, so that really helped the reaction to them.

On a side note on that trip I met Bill Shockley who had a place near the Gunks where he began going to climb when he worked at Bell Labs, spent dozens of weekends camped in his back yard on subsequent climbing forays. Great climber, gracious host and Nobel Prize recipient for his part in the invention of the semi-conductor transistor. Very interestingly his analysis was influential if not instrumental in the decision by Truman to use of nuclear weapons on Japan rather than trying to defeat them with non-nuclear tactics and the corresponding loss of Allied lives.

Needless to say after that attack by the yellow jackets I often spent an inordinate amount of time scanning and watching for any flying insects near any climb I was involved in if there was a chance of wasp friendly conditions!
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:01 PM
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I'm allergic to those beasties, gotta keep benedryl all the time. My wife gets totaly freaked when she sees a wasp, screaming at me "KILL IT KILL IT" I have to tell her to calm the hell down I'm the one who has to go to the ER if stung not you. then I got squish it or spray it.

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