2-12. WASPS, YELLOW JACKETS, AND HORNETS
Wasps (Figure 2-4) are classified as any of the numerous social or solitary
winged hymenopterous insects that usually have a slender, smooth body with the
abdomen attached by a narrow stalk, well-developed wings, and biting mouthparts.
Yellow jackets are any of the various small yellow-marked social wasps (family
Vespidae) and hornets are any of the larger social wasps of the family Vespidae.
Hornets usually build nests of pulp by masticating wood fiber. These nests can be
found in hollow trees or among branches of trees. Some hornets build nests under the
eaves of houses or in holes somewhere near the ground. A hanging nest may reach 9
to 10 inches in diameter. The old colony dies out in the summer or in the fall, and the
young fertilized queen starts a new nest in the spring. Some species form paper
dwellings containing a single horizontal comb or hexagonal cells attached to support by
a pedicel. Still other species build small nests of mud and place insects and spiders in
them as food for the larvae. This type of nest may be found in outbuildings and in attics.
Figure 2-4. Wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket.
2-13. CHARACTERISTICS OF BEE, WASP, HORNET, YELLOW JACKET STINGS
Stings are not necessarily dangerous but in rare cases, a victim may be so
allergic to this type of injury that a single sting may result in death. In a case where
death occurs, it is caused by severe allergic reaction leading to respiratory arrest and
shock. This same reaction may occur in patients who have sustained multiple bee or
wasp stings. More deaths occur annually from bee and wasp stings than from
snakebites. Death is caused by hypersensitive reaction (anaphylactic shock).
2-14. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The victim experiences pain and inflammation at the sting site and a wheal may
develop. Swelling around his eyes and mouth is possible and he may show some
anxiety and itching at the site that represents a mild reaction. If the victim experiences
wheezing, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal pain, tightness in the chest and generalized
edema, he is having a moderate reaction to the sting. If the victim shows signs of