WASP Aromatherapy Treatments
YELLOW JACKETS or OTHER INSECT STINGS
by Jeanne Rose
(Late June 2000, 2007)
I live in a Victorian
home that has a 100-year history of housing paper wasp nests. During
the course of the year, when I teach
Aromatherapy Classes and
classes and instruct people via the
Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies Courses,
I have to deal with these pests and instruct my students how now to
get bitten, irritated or stung. I have also developed a
First Aid Kit to handle such emergencies.
Yellow jackets are
voracious predators of insect pests such as caterpillars and flies.
They are a type of wasp but are often mistaken for bees. Sometimes
they are confused with other less aggressive predatory wasps,
especially paper wasps. Yellow jackets are relatively short and
stout compared to the longer slender paper wasps. Paper wasps also
have more dangling legs.
Yellow jackets nests are
spherical and are enclosed in a papery envelope with a small
entrance hole at the bottom. They may also bed in the ground, in old
logs or other places where they can burrow and make their nests.
They have been found in the logs that I use to line my pathways.
Yellow jackets build
nests in abandoned rodent burrows and other holes in the ground, in
attics (Christmas didnt happen one year in my house because we
could not get into the attic for a month, thus we could not get the
Christmas ornaments out), in wall voids, in shrubs, in rotting logs
lying in the garden and hanging from trees (tree climbers always
check our trees for nests as. They release a sort of fragrant glue
that will attract them repeatedly to the same property. I have had
yellow jacket nests in the rear wall of my home (1970), on the fence
(1980), in the Avocado tree (1985), under the porch beams (1990),
under the overhang of the greenhouse ledge (1995, killed with Nutmeg
oil) and in the attic (1997, in the kitchen wall above the cooler
(2001)). And it wasn't until they were removed from the attic that I
was told about the fragrant attractant that they release. [That was
the year that we had no Christmas tree, as we were afraid to go into
the attic to get the ornaments].
Paper wasp nests are
usually suspended from eaves or porch ceilings and look like tiny
umbrellas filled with hexagonal cells.
NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR WASPS, LESS TOXIC CONTROLS and TO AVOID
Dont swat at yellow jackets as you will only aggravate
them, instead flick them off your skin with the edge of a credit
card, key, laminated card that comes in the
kit, or other flat surface.
Wait until it lands on a flat surface and then trap and remove the
creature then either release it or freeze it to get rid of it.
Do not strike at a yellow jacket. Slow, gentle motions like a
breeze are better.
Brush a yellow jacket off with a piece of paper and move slowly
Do not squash a yellow jacket. They emit a chemical when dying
that can attract and cause other nearby yellow jackets to attack.
TIPS DURING YELLOW JACKET SEASON:
Wear protective clothing near underground nests
Avoid outdoor cooking if you are sensitive to stings
Carry an epinephrine kit if you are hypersensitive to insect
Outdoors, do not carry sweet drinks or snacks with meat, if you
must put them in closed containers with lids. Better to carry plain
water and have a nice vegetarian salad.
Do not wear perfume. Use unscented body products.
Wear socks and shoes.
Wear light colored clothing.
Move slowly and deliberately near a nest.
When distilling, move slowly and don't distill near a nest.
Remain calm and do not get nervous and sweat they smell fear.
Spray directly into the nest with one of the nerve poisons
available at the hardware store.
Death sprays include Raid or the direct application of Nutmeg oil
(available from any
Set traps for yellow jackets in their quiet time - in the dark and
well before you want to go outside to eat Traps include Rescue!
Yellow jacket; Rescue! Trap; Surefire Deluxe Trap; Victor Yellow
DESTROY THE NEST OR HAVE IT REMOVEDD
There is a danger of multiple stings when you mess with a yellow
jacket nest so it is best to have a professional remove the nest. In
my area, we have a company called Beebusters. Also, there are
university students doing research on the creatures and sometimes
they will remove for free a particularly large nest for homeowners.
Seal holes and cracks in foundations, walls, roofs, and eaves.
They come back year-after-year to the same locations because of the
Cover attic and crawl space vents with fine screen.
Clean recyclables before storing them and keep garbage cans clean
and tightly covered because Yellow jackets scavenge for meat and
PROBLEM: On June 30, 2000, Christine Wenrich and I
distilled the Lemon Verbena; I
trimmed half of the tree and cut only those branches that had
flowers as well as good-looking fragrant leaves. In the past, it has
been my experience that Lemon Verbena should be cut in the spring or
before flowering so that it will regrow. We harvested and distilled.
While sitting awaiting the completion of the distillation, I looked
towards the division fence (divides my yard from the dog/still yard)
and noticed the new Lemon Verbena from two years ago, had a very
dead looking branch. I went to it and reached down the stem of the
Lemon Verbena with my left arm towards the place where the plant
entered the ground and was swarmed by 6 or so yellow jackets. I did
everything wrong. One was caught in my hair, which I managed to
brush out. However, one particularly nasty creature had already
stung me on the lower left arm about 6 times and another had me on
the upper left arm above my elbow. My arm became immediately painful
and began to swell I began walking quickly towards the house and
warned Christine to get out of the area.
CURE: I had available the Tea Tree oil in my
First Aid Kit that had been distilled from the
flowering Tea Tree in Golden Gate Park and applied this oil
liberally to my arm and neck. It eased the pain. I think I should
have used meat tenderizer to dissolve the protein of the sting or as
someone else suggested, cut half of a Tomato and apply directly to
the stings to neutralize the poison.
Over the course of the
next three weeks, the stings swelled and became two hard knots, one
on the forearm and one above the elbow. There was quite a bit of
pain involved and for the pain and inflammation I took Advilฎ
several times a day. I also continued to apply Tea Tree oil
regularly and occasionally tried Lavender (anesthetic use but no
healing). Occasionally, I also applied Helichrysum but I think that
was just a waste of very valuable oil.
After one week, the
stings, now one hard knotty mass began to itch unbearably. I would
spray them with
Lavender hydrosol, which reduced the itching considerably but
would often forget and scratch unconsciously. After two weeks, the
skin over the hardened knots flaked and finally the swelling
subsided. I continued to spray with hydrosols. Now 32 weeks later
all that is left is pinprick-sized scabs that are very slowly
FUTURE CURE: One should definitely
include meat tenderizer (Accent) in your first aid kit if you are
near the seashore for jellyfish stings or on land for yellow jacket
or hornet stings. Apply cut Tomato to dissolve acid. Bromelain,
which is also a meat tenderizer, may work (Pineapple).
ADVICE: When around yellow jackets, do not run or
sweat. Walk away with purpose and if one lands on you, brush it
away, do not swat. They have the ability to bite or sting multiple
times. Before sticking your hand into or around a plant, look for a
nest. Where yellow jackets have nested in the past, they will nest
again as they leave behind an odor that is persistent and will
attract new colonies repeatedly.
Bibliography: Rose, Jeanne
is available at the website.
All rights reserved 2007. No part of this article may
be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose.
ฉ Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose,
219 Carl St., San Francisco, CA 94117