Your Safety Around Yellow Jackets


Yellow jackets (Vespulaspecies,Vespaspecies and Dolichovespulaspecies) are considered beneficial around home gardens and commercially grown fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year because they feed abundantly on insect pests such as caterpillars and harmful flies. However, in late summer and early fall when their populations peak, the yellow jackets' normal insect diet disappears and their feeding habits become a problem to park visitors. At that time of year, the yellow jacket has an appetite for the same food and drink as those consumed by humans.

To ensure a safe visit during this time please follow these guidelines:

  • Visitors who have known allergies to yellow jacket venom should consider going to an alternate location than Prisoners Harbor or Scorpion Ranch campground during the late summer and early fall.
  • Allergic reactions to yellow jacket or bees stings may cause shock and life threatening conditions. Those with known allergies should carry sting treatment kits and be prepared to seek prompt medical attention if stung. However, due to the remote location of the islands, medical response can be up to 2 hours once initial notification is made.
  • A yellow jacket does not leave a stinger in its victim, so it can therefore sting multiple times. Companions of multiple-sting victims should watch the victim and be prepared for emergency medical response and evacuation.
  • Keep your food covered at all times.
  • Avoid walking with bare feet and watch where you walk and sit down.
  • Avoid waving your arms to shoo them away and back away slowly instead with both hands covering the face to protect the more sensitive body areas. Swift movements will only attract more yellow jackets.
  • Nests are often located in a soil cavity such as an abandoned gopher hole, mouse nest, or hollow tree. Other possible nest sites are in buildings, including attics, porches, eaves, or sheds. Disturbing ground nests or trees can cause yellow jackets to attack. If you do disturb a yellow jacket nest, general guidelines are to slowly walk away with both hands covering the face to protect the more sensitive body areas. It is best to walk toward dense vegetation or enter a vehicle or building to avoid the stinging insects. Swift movements will only attract more yellow jackets. Take notes on the nest location and report to park or concessioner staff.
  • Since yellow jackets are attracted to the water at the Scorpion Ranch campground water spigots, visitors that are allergic to yellow jacket stings may want to consider bringing their own water to the island.

Last updated: July 5, 2022

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