Hikers, Beware: Ground Wasps Are Nesting in the Wissahickon

Here’s where you should walk with caution if you plan to visit the park soon.

The Wissahickon Valley Park is home to all kinds of creatures – coyotes, brown snakes, salamanders, star-nosed moles, toads, deer. And apparently ground wasps.

Friends of the Wissahickon, the park’s stewardship group, has received an uptick of reports of ground wasp nests in the park this summer.

In a Facebook post Friday morning, the organization advised park-goers to avoid the area near Blue Bell Park and the orange trail, which is located east of the Wissahickon Creek in the southern end of the park. FOW also urged people to use caution near the Walnut Lane Bridge. 

Ground wasps can become aggressive when provoked. Unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, which typically just causes temporary pain and irritation (as anyone who’s been stung by a bee or wasp knows). But if you’re allergic, stings can be dangerous or even fatal.

Maura McCarthy, executive director of FOW, said people have been stung recently in the park – but as far as she knows, no one has suffered an allergic reaction.

“There are park users who have allergies, and when we find [wasps] we try to get the word out,” McCarthy said.

If it seems like a nest in the park has grown out of control, McCarthy said FOW will try to bury or destroy it. For now, the group plans to let the nests subside with the season.

If you’re allergic to wasps and are stung (or if you show signs of a reaction, like trouble breathing, a swollen tongue, faintness or dizziness, swelling of the face area, etc.), seek medical attention right away.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.