Recently we have received several reports from hikers at the Sope Creek unit of the park that have been stung by yellow jacket bees. The yellow jackets this year seem particularly numerous and aggressive, possibly due to the unrelenting heat and humidity. To protect yourself from getting stung while visiting the park we have several suggestions. One of the most important things to do is to keep your dog leashed so that it does not disturb ground nesting insects like yellow jackets. The nests are not in the trail corridor due to the constant foot traffic and disturbance. The yellow jacket nests are in the woods, usually in a dead stump or sometimes simply in a hole in the ground. The colonies can be quite extensive and have up to 5,000 inhabitants. Below are some other tips on preventing stings. Be aware, keep your dog leashed, and have a safe hike!
- Never strike or swing at a wasp or a bee.
- Never trap a wasp or a bee against your body. That can cause the insect to sting.
- Wear a hat and closed shoes (not sandals).
- Light-colored cotton clothing is best. Avoid white or bright-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Never wear wool around stinging insects because wool retains some degree of animal odor even after extensive processing.
- Avoid heavy, flowery perfumes, colognes, or scents. They may attract bees.
- Run away from bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets. They are not very fast, and you can usually outrun them.
- Avoid sweet beverages, which can attract stinging insects.