Over the rustling of wind in the leaves and the rippling of a mountain stream, an unmistakable sound hums through City Creek Canyon on a recent hot afternoon.
It’s the season for yellow jackets, other wasps and bees in the Wasatch Foothills, and they are flying thick, according to cyclists who say they have been swarmed and attacked in City Creek Canyon.
“It was like being dive-bombed by wasps and hornets, all over the place,” cyclist Jenny Sonntag said Tuesday, stopping to point out the stings on her body after a ride up and down the 6-mile City Creek bike path. “It’s really bad. I was so scared.”
Sonntag and other cyclists said they encountered large swarms at the Rotary Park Picnic Area, the water treatment facility, and on two hills just below the plant.
The infestations have led to stings, bike wrecks and heightened wariness among cyclists, who are most likely to provoke the insects as they travel through at high speeds.
“They seem to be everywhere right now,” said cyclist Jerry Root, pointing to a wasp in the shelter at the trail entry gate. “There’s one right there.”
Hikers and joggers are less likely to be stung because they travel more slowly through the swarms, though they have their guards up.
“I could hear them following me for  or 500 feet,” said runner Angelica Benitez.
While populations this year aren’t drastically bigger than normal, the insects are noticeably more present in the foothills than they were last year or the year before, said John Wells, watershed operations supervisor for Salt Lake City.
“The spring seepage comes down onto the road, and that’s where they congregate every year,” said Wells, who noted he was stung a few times last week alone in various Salt Lake City canyons.
The wasps likely will become increasingly aggressive over the next month, Wells warned.
City Creek Canyon was closed temporarily Wednesday due to the Bountiful wildfire. When it reopens, cyclists and hikers should take care around stinging insects. Cyclists may wish to slow down to minimize the wasps’ agitation. Bug repellent does not deter them. Anyone with allergies should bring treatment pens, Wells said; cell service is limited in parts of the canyon.
“You gotta respect the insects; otherwise, they’ll bug you,” quipped runner Alexander Valdez as he finished his jog, unstung.