The yellow jacket, or common wasp, is a sight everybody is familiar with. If only because they are regular visitors to any picnic or camping site that features sweets, savories and flavored drinks.
Yellow jackets have black bodies, with yellow markings on the front of their heads as well as yellow rings around their stomachs. They closely resemble hornets, but can be told apart by the much bigger size of their head. Other distinguishing physical characteristics of yellow jackets include their noticeable antenna, dark eyes and wings that are folded onto themselves when the wasp is not flying.
A couple of other traits shared by yellow jackets are their relatively hairless bodies as compared to other bees and the way their legs rest close to their bodies when they fly. They are between a half-inch and five-eights of an inch long, and unless they are as a group protecting their nest, they only really represent a serious health hazard to those with bee allergies.
Yellow Jacket Allergy Stats
One in five Americans suffers from some sort of allergy, or roughly 60 million Americans. Of that total, four percent have an insect allergy of some kind. Statistically then, once the various types of insect allergies are parsed from this group of 2.4 million sufferers, the allergy to bees and wasps is relatively rare statistically. A much more common threat when it comes to the yellow jacket is someone drinking a can of soda at outdoor site that has been left unwatched and infiltrated by a yellow jacket. If the person is stung in the throat after unknowingly drinking in the yellow jacket wasp that was in the can, the resulting throat sting can in some individuals quickly inflame and impede breathing.
University of Washington – Yellow Jacket, Retrieved November 23, 2010 from http://depts.washington.edu/natmap/facts/yellow_jacket_712.html
Cornell University – Ground-Nesting Yellow Jackets, Retrieved November 23, 2010 from http://www.masterbeekeeper.org/stinging/groundyellowjacket.htm
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – Allergy Facts and Figures, Retrieved November 23, 2010 from http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9⊂=30