Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yellow Jacket Alert!

Today is a cool rainy Wednesday in Massachusetts and I decided it was time to update my blog.  The past month has been unseasonably dry, actually the whole summer since July has featured very little rain here in central Massachusetts.  While that's wonderful for vacationer's, it puts stress on the vegetation. 

I live on the edge of a patch of woods.  The dry weather has killed off a lot of the usual weeds and low growing foliage.  The usually verdant ferns that grow with great abandon around my house have been turning yellow and brown much earlier this year.  Even the trees are stressed by the dry weather.  Maple leaves are turning brown and falling off early and litter my yard with their debris.  So it's not surprising that I didn't notice that a colony of yellow jackets had burrowed under a tree root at the edge of my yard.

Every day, weather permitting, I take my Lab mix, Finn out to run around in the yard.  He loves being unrestrained by a lease and he loves playing fetch and chasing an old basketball around the yard.

 One day last week I took him out as usual.  We had been outside for about 20 minutes and he had just gone to the edge of the yard to retrieve his toy, when all of a sudden, he jumped about 4 feet straight up in the air.   When he landed he started shaking his head and pawing at his ears.  I saw something moving on his head and assumed it was a nasty horsefly that are a major nuisance during the summer months.  He ran over to me and I saw more insects on him.  He was jumping and shaking and pawing at his head.  That's when I realized that the bugs weren't horseflies but yellow jackets! 

I, immediately, ripped my sweatshirt off and swished it over him to dislodge the stinging insects.  I dragged him up on the deck and ran my hands over his belly to get any yellow jackets hiding on his underside, but even after doing that, a few still made it into the house. 

Of course, I immediately went on the internet to see what treatment was appropriate for venomous insect stings in dogs.  Icing the stings was recommended but as he had 10 to 20 bumps where the wasps had stung him, that wasn't feasible.  Benadryl was also mentioned but as I don't as a rule keep that in the house, he was out of luck.

The only thing to do was call the vet.  Luckily, I've been taking my animals to him for a long time and even though he had been planning to leave, he stuck around until I could bring Finn in.    A shot of cortisone an $70.00  later, Finn was back to normal.

Even though I don't usually use any pesticides in my yard, I went out and sprayed the hell out of that nest!  I'm just lucky it wasn't my grandson out there playing when the yellow jackets decided to attack.

So this is a cautionary tale.  In the Fall, all manner of creatures are looking for somewhere to spend the cold winter months.  Make sure you check your yard for these insects that like to burrow in the ground and take appropriate action when you do.

Here's a picture of Finn with his best human bud.


  1. Poor baby! Good for you getting rid of that nest! I hope Finn doesn't have any more problems.

  2. Oh, my! When my son was young he stepped on a yellow jacket nest. Several flew up his shorts! Not fun. I'm glad the vet was able to help your dog.

    1. Yes, he's fine. He might have been okay without the shot, but I didn't want to take any chances/

  3. Oh dear, poor Finn. The yellow jackets have been especially bad here too in September. I think the vet visit was the right move - 20 stings is a lot!