Wasp nest being treated at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
Dozens of people stung at The Great Reno Balloon Race.

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo

Reno, Nevada. Sept. 11, 2015. A class of kindergarten students and their parents were among a group of spectators at The Great Reno Balloon Race stung by several Western Yellowjacket Wasps. The students were swarmed by the yellowjackets in a corner of the pasture at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park shortly upon arrival to the park.  

Emergency personnel have confirmed 48 people were treated for minor stings on Friday morning. REMSA removed stingers and applied antibiotic ointment to dozens of those affected. Several people were treated with Benadryl and no one was transported out of the park. Many of the children who were stung were able to stay at the park, enjoy the balloon races and tethered balloon rides from the Children’s Cabinet.

“As soon as the incident was reported, we worked diligently with emergency services to clear the small site and treat any minor injuries,” said the Executive Director of The Great Reno Balloon Race, Pete Copeland. “After the crowds dispersed this morning, the area will be treated to avoid further incident. This was an unfortunate occurrence today, but we expect great crowds throughout the weekend to celebrate this iconic event.”

The area of pasture where the group was stung was immediately closed after the incident. Washoe County Regional Park staff covered the nest in the ground and began working with a local pest control company to eradicate the yellowjackets from the area.

Operations Director for Washoe County Parks, Eric Crump, said Western Yellowjackets typically nest in the ground and are native to the area. "Although they can be aggressive to humans, they are also beneficial to our ecosystem, by eating insects and are food for birds and other prey. Nonetheless, my heart still goes out to those kids; I've been stung and it hurts!”

The area of the pasture where the incident occurred will be closed for the remainder of the day while the ground is treated.

For more information about Western Yellowjackets click here:


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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »