Yellow Jackets and Boys

Today’s guest post was written by Garland Davis.


Yellow Jackets

This other fool named Junior and I discovered an underground yellow jackets nest. We plotted some way to use this knowledge to cause mayhem. 

There were a bunch of boys who lived across the creek that we had had altercations with from time to time regarding who had the right to certain blackberry thickets or to particular fishing holes. Our feud sometime came to fisticuffs or throwing rocks. We usually got the worst of these debates. They were older, bigger, and outnumbered us.

We decided if we could catch a bunch of yellow jackets in a glass jug and hide it in the tree above their “clubhouse”, we could shoot the glass with our BB guns and slingshots, breaking the jug and dropping a horde of mad yellow jackets on to them. We planned our attack for a Sunday after church. We knew they wouldn’t be working on their dads’ farms and would gather to play in the woods.

Junior’s cousin, who purported to be an expert on yellow jackets, told him the best way to catch a jug of yellow jackets was to find the two entrances to their nest and jam the mouth of the jug into one entrance while simultaneously shoving a smoky rag into the other entrance. The insects would flee the smoke and fill the jug. When this happened, you had to risk getting stung by jerking the jug out and stuffing a stopper into the end.

We ducked out of church early, rushed home changed clothes, grabbed a jug and headed for the nest. My dad worked for the State Highway Department and had a box of road flares. We decided a flare would be much better than a rag.

Knowing where the two entrances were, we got into position, Junior with the jug and me with the flare. I got the flare going and signaled to my cohort. He jammed the jug into the entrance and I stuffed the burning flare into the other hole and an unbelievable cloud of yellow jackets erupted from a third hole under the roots of a tree at the edge of the creek.

We were in the creek trying to submerge ourselves in three or four inches of water and the yellow jackets were having a field day. We were both stung over fifty times. My tobacco chewing uncle was at my house when we finally got there. According to him, tobacco juice will pull the poison out of a sting. 

I don’t know what was worse, getting stung or having my uncle trying to rub tobacco spit all over me.

Last night’s video: Pumpkin Uses in Appalachia | John Parris’s Pumpkin Bread.


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  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh at that story. Miss Cindy is absolutely right, boys will be boys. The beginning sentence was priceless, “This other fool named…”, that right there was an intro to trouble in the story…lol… I truly enjoy reading this story. I figure if my oldest brother Big Tom was alive and read this story most likely he would have a similar story of him and his best friend David G. They were always getting into mischief. I loved as we all got older Big Tom would tell us stories of mischief they did throughout school years and in military together. They were best friends till Big Tom passed in 2009. I’ve moved away from the town I grew up in so I don’t see David G since my brothers passing, but I can imagine he is still telling his children and grandchildren stories of the mischief him and his best friend Big Tom got into while growing up together. Thank you Tipper, for stories that remind us all of stories from our own families.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Great tale, Tipper!!
    It is too good not to be true. I once disturbed a yellow jacket nest in the woods. I dropped my axe and headed for the creek. It took me more’n an hour to get the nerve to go back for the axe. I thought I’d got rid of all the yellow jackets but still had 15 in my hair when I got home. I was swoll up for several days afterward.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    October 8, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Years ago a yellow jacket stung my nephew in the parking lot of the grocery store. A lady walking by stuck her finger in her mouth and said “let me put this on it”. He was crying so hard. I said “ok”.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Garland made me think of friend I took squirrel hunting about 50 years ago. He stepped right beside an entrance hole of yellow jackets and they flew up his britchey leg. He had 70 some stings on that leg. He didn’t think he was going to make it out of the woods from being so weak and sick. We made it to the car and started to the emergency room about a hour away. By the time we got there he was doing so much better he never went in the hospital.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    October 8, 2021 at 11:22 am

    One of the most exciting things that happed to me in over 30 years of Scouting involved a bunch of Scouts and a ground hornet nest! Also tobacco must be good for bites and stings; one of my Scouts was bitten by what I thought was a spider so I took him to the infirmary. What they did to treat him was to tape a small peace of a cigar over the bite. I guess it worked because the bite area got better. Dennis Morgan

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    October 8, 2021 at 11:00 am

    This is exactly the kind of behavior my FOUR UGLY BROTHERS and 5 boy first cousins, at the bottom of our mountain, got into every day. Me, the only girl in the group. …I would try to talk those boys out of fights with bees, hornets, waspers, yellow jackets….also tried to discourage them from trying to steal apples from that tree guarded by a crazy old bull…but No . ..they would not listen to my VOICE OF FEMALE REASON! I heard a phrase once …saying someone had to….poke the bear . …and I thought.. .yep I know what THAT looks like!

  • Reply
    Pastor Lon
    October 8, 2021 at 10:52 am

    Wow! Now this one brings back some good but painful memories as I’ve had my share of encounters with many yellow jackets, wasps and even a few hornets through the years. But as said in this story the tobacco juice always done the trick!! Thanks for taking us back in time to our childhood and beyond Ms. Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 8, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I’ve been sittin here trying to think. I don’t think I can recall ever seeing a yellow jacket nest with more that one entrance. I’ve seen yellow jacket nests in the ground, under the overhand of a road bank, in trees, under eaves, in walls, in old cars, in not so old cars, in haystacks and in the walls of my house and none of them had more than one entrance. I never paid much attention to yellow jackets. Their stings are only unpleasant compared to their big brothers, those big black hornets. Hornets and wasper hurt like 7734 and swell me bad. I got stung by a hornet once on my hand and it swelled up like a punkin. I couldn’t do anything with that hand for a week or more. A wasper got me under the right eye one time and it swelled up the whole right side of my head and down to my shoulder. Both of my eyes swelled shut and my lips swelled so big I couldn’t eat or drink right for several days. I thought about seeing a doctor when my throat started to close up but it didn’t and I didn’t and that only lasted a day or two. To this day the right side of my face will swell up every once in a while for no apparent reason.
    Yellow jackets and sweat bees are only a nuisance to me. Perhaps their stings are a reminder for me to avoid the bigger kids in that family.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 9:42 am

    LOL, I don’t know that much about Yellow Jackets, except warned that they were mean scudders. I had no idea the human body could take that many stings and survive.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Good thang they were not allergic to them or they wouldn’t made it back home. Goodness gracious!!! I absolutely love the story. My middle brother name is Junior. Boy, as a kid I could see him doing something like that. Good post today Tipper. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    October 8, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Saw a video couple of weeks earlier, the man used liquid nitrogen to pour into the hole of a large yellow jacket nest. The results were instant, bee problem solved. He said the nitrogen was cheap and did not harm the environment as does the bee sprays, interesting ?

  • Reply
    Greg Church
    October 8, 2021 at 9:24 am

    My mother had a snowball bush of which she was extremely proud. While mowing, she got stung 3-4 times and discovered a rather large nest about 2 feet off the ground on one of the limbs ….. so she called me to get rid of it.
    I suggested fire and gasoline, both of which she refused to let me do, not wanting to damage her prized snowball. I asked the opinion of a friend who said that it was possible to put a plastic garbage bag over the nest and close it around the limb behind, catching nest and yellow jackets inside. He claimed it had been done with ease before. I studied the situation and decided it was possible.
    I waited until dark, carefully and quietly trimmed a few sprigs from the limb and , to take a line from Will Shakespeare, “screwed my courage to the sticking place” and commenced. The plan went exactly as planned. I was able to capture that entire nest of bees, about 12-14 inch in diameter, inside that bag and sealed around the limb behind.
    The bees quickly discovered their predicament and took to swarming inside that bag. Such a sound I have never heard and if I had heard it before I did the deed ,I don’t think I would have chanced it.
    I cut the limb ,after convincing my mother to sacrifice that much of her bush, and destroyed it. I was about 20 at the time. Now at 57, I might not repeat the process, especially after talking to my “friend” the next day. After telling him if my success he exclaimed, “ You actually did that? I never knew anyone that actually tried it.”

  • Reply
    Margie G for Gas that hole up
    October 8, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I thought that story was HILARIOUS!!! The plotters got played and if that ain’t justice, I’ll kiss you at the post office for all to see!!! When I was a kid of about 5 years old,I got stung about 20 times and took to the bed about 2 days. They’d made a home in a wooden swing I swung on. Well they were burned out and killed for their crime. Lol. I watched a silly neighbor guy pour gas down a yellow jacket hole. Then he LIT IT and his entire yard (it seemed) lit up. He did a fire dance any Native Cherokee (such as myself) would be proud of!!! I guess the fool didn’t take into account that gas FUMES are deadly and one should never light those holes up. But if I told you I did not laugh until I almost cried, I’d be lying… it’s refreshing to know I’m not alone in a world of dummies!!!! Btw I HATE JELLOW JACKETS!!!

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 9:10 am

    That was a funny story Garland! I’m wondering if the baccer chewing uncle was told the truth about why the bees got revenge. I bet not!

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    October 8, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Yellow Jackets are the unofficial mascot of the Covered Bridge Festival here in Parke County, Indiana. If you know what to look for they will lead you to the cinnamon roll stand, the apple cider stand, the kettle corn vendor, the persimmon ice cream stand and all other great destinations. For the most part ours are quite tame and seem to appreciate human generosity.

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    October 8, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Yellow Jackets are the unofficial mascot of the Covered Bridge Festival here in Parke County, Indiana. If you know what to look for they will lead you to the cinnamon roll stand, the apple cider stand, the kettle corn vendor, the persimmon ice cream stand and all other great destinations. For the most part ours are quite take and seem to appreciate human generosity.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    October 8, 2021 at 8:50 am

    My great grandmother dipped a bit of snuff. Stings from yellow jackets and wasps were a common occurrence and just one of the hazards of the job of being a country boy. If you got stung and let it be known, you were sent to granny’s house for the tobacco juice spit treatment. The treatment was worse than the sting!

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I don”t remember ever hearing of putting tobacco juice on stings. My Nana would put mud on the sting. As the years have gone by I have become allergic to the stings, so I give any stinging insect plenty of distance. Very amusing story though.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 8, 2021 at 8:21 am

    Well, I learned several things. Yellow jackets have a back door. But they may have a second front door. Don’t plan on catching a jug full of yellow jackets. Hurts to think about it.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 8, 2021 at 10:07 am

      It’s called a duplex. It must have been an urban setting.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 8:10 am

    I’ve had my share of tobacco spit on yellow jacket and wasp stings! I’ve also had bleach, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, sting-fo swabs, methiolate, mercuricome, Benadryl cream, hydrocortisone, meat tenderizer… Thank for the memories. I always enjoy them.

  • Reply
    Marilee J Godsil
    October 8, 2021 at 7:42 am

    Goodness! The old tobacco juice cure. I recall getting stung in a neighbor’s yard and his Dad slapped some juicy chew onto my hand. It was horrifying to me but it worked.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 7:31 am

    I love the stories about how children lived life without toys. I did not know they had a third hole, but had a screen from a window to block their second escape route. Of course, I only went after them after dark.

  • Reply
    Dolores Caracci
    October 8, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Enjoyed this humorous tale

  • Reply
    John Hart
    October 8, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Today’s (10/8/2021) was one of the best recently. I am 74 and about ten years ago I tried to get rid of a nest in our front yard. Not quite the same results, but the post brought back good memories.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    October 8, 2021 at 7:14 am

    My papaw used tobacco spit too, it works, as does ammonia. I got stung on the head by several hornets and my neighbor used ammonia to kill the sting. Yellow Jackets are mean, nasty little cusses.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Great story that sounds so familiar to the things kids use to get into.
    I remember tobacco being used for bee stings.
    Yellow jackets are always a bad surprise to encounter.

  • Reply
    Diane Kelbaugh
    October 8, 2021 at 6:44 am

    I love the first line, “This other fool named Junior and I…”

    • Reply
      Emily from Austin
      October 8, 2021 at 11:50 am

      Isn’t that a wonderful story introduction? You love the narrator right off, and you have a foretaste of how the tale will end up.

    • Reply
      Rebecca Freeman
      October 8, 2021 at 11:58 am

      Yes, that line jumped out at me too!! LOL!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 8, 2021 at 6:18 am

    Well, as the old saying goes…boys will be boys! They are always going to match wits with bees…and lose!

    • Reply
      October 8, 2021 at 7:22 am

      Well said Miss Cindy!! 🙂

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