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Very good photo! You are absolutely right about their agressiveness, they will never...never sting without being provoked. I have presonally had several nests in my room as I was a child to study their behavior and was never stung due to the knowledge I gained earlier to that. These colonys are very fragile as people tend to put their nests on fire to get rid of them if they nest in barns or sealings, and only a few queens approach each year, it will destroy the whole colony unless the main queen escapes. Vasps are very useful to us humans as they get rid of pests and others that thrive on fruittrees, my opinion is that we should learn to live side by side with nature, not obliterate everything we see as a threat because some of us don't fully appreciate the role it is playing...
Yellowjackets are not overly agressive. I leave their nests in place and work around them all the time. As long as you move slowly, you can often work within a foot of their nests without bugging them. I get stung once or twice a summer but I wouldn't call their sting painful. This one was on a window screen so I just put the camera close and snapped the shot.By contrast, we have a subterranian bee here (must get a picture of those guys one of these days) that are very agressive at times and hurt a LOT more. I accidentally hit a hive with my mattock last summer and got stung several times .. the last time being about 30 yard from the site of the incident (though I can't be entirely sure the bee didn't hitch a ride on me as I ran away). Still, I would gladly trade a few stings and having to avoid a small patch of my property for a summer if it means there are more pollinators out and about doing their thing.
Lat: 42.97, Long: -79.88
Spotted on May 20, 2010 Submitted on Dec 24, 2011