All wasps will defend their nests, but Yellowjackets and hornets are the most aggressive. They can be distinguished from bees by their thin "waists." Bees are thick-wasted. Yellow jackets fold their wings lengthwise when at rest. Like all wasps, yellow jackets prey on a variety of insects and other arthropods. Yellow jackets will also forage on foods that people eat, especially sweets and meats. They are considered beneficial insects, because they eat other insects. They are a nuisance to people however, because they are aggressive and leave painful stings.
The yellow jacket colony will remain active for only one summer, after which the queens will fly away to start more colonies. The remaining ones die at the end of the season, and the nest is not reused.
If a colony is disturbed, the yellow jackets can become very aggressive and sting. Make sure to inspect for yellow jacket nests, before mowing the lawn or using trimmers. For most people, the yellow jacket sting is temporary, but painful. However for allergic individuals, a single sting may result in a serious reaction that requires medical treatment.
Size: 5/8 to 1 inch
Color: Black and Yellow or Black and White
- They have a thin waist, in contrast to a bee.
Types of Yellow Jackets and Yellow Jacket Nests
Yellow Jackets are of the Vespula species and are social wasps. The German Yellowjacket is located across the northeastern and midwestern regions of the USA. It may also be found in western areas of the United States, such as Washington, Idaho, and California. The German Yellowjacket usually nests in structures, wall voids, crawlspaces, attics and cracks and crevices in the exterior surface of a building. Yellowjackets make nests of paper from fibers in wood and saliva.
The Western Yellowjacket makes their nests in the ground and is usually referred to as, "meat bees." Yellowjackets will also use rodent burrows for nests, enlarging the cavity as the colony develops. You can see small stones or dirt particles piled up around the openings of a burrow that is used to house a large yellow jacket colony.
Some Yellowjackets, (D. areanara and D.maculata) build aerial nests hanging from a tree or attached to the eaves of buildings. These yellow jackets are not as aggressive.
Here is an excellent video from University of California describing the difference between yellow jackets, wasps and mud daubers.
Yellow Jacket Control Measures
Sanitation ( to eliminate possible food sources) is important to reduce build up of foraging population during the summer to mid autumn .
Trash containers should be kept closed and open containers should be emptied regularly.
Killing The Nest
- Locate Nests: Nests should be located during the day, so you can identify the workers entering and exiting the entry points. Look for multiple entry points and mark them.
- Treatment: Only treat at night when it is dark. Yellow Jackets do not see well, and chances of being stung are greatly reduced. Also at night the whole colony will be present in the nest making the treatment more effective.
- Treat the nest with pyrethrum aerosols such as PT 565 Plus or CB Extra. Pyrethrum forms a gas which will fill the cavity, killing the yellow jackets on contact. Wait until the aerosol is dry, and then dust in the opening with insecticide dusts such as Tempo Dust or D-Fense Dust. The dust will prevent future hatch outs. Check the nest the following day, to see if the yellow jackets are dead which can be verified by lack of activity.
Repeat, if necessary.
Spray opening at night with pyrethrin aerosol.
Wait until aerosol is dry (10-15 minutes), then dust opening with Evergreen Dust or
D Fense Dust
For complete results, use Walt's Yellow Jacket Kit (CB 80, Tempo Dust, and Hand duster).
- Baits: Yellow Jacket Bait Stations
- The Alpine Yellow Jacket Bait Stations are designed to be used with Onslaught Insecticide. You supply the station with fresh meat and the Onslaught. The yellow jackets are lured into the bait station; they ingest the meat/insecticide mixture, killing the yellow jackets. This is used during the spring and summer months for the most common of yellow jackets. This include the scavenger yellow jackets that consume protein and meat. These are the common yellow jackets, the western yellow jackets, and German yellow jackets. During the fall months, the yellow jackets prefer carbohydrates instead of meat.
- Trapping: Yellow Jacket Traps
Trapping Yellow Jackets may be used to trap with a lure like fruit juice or meat like :
YELLOW JACKET TRAP by Advantage, which would be helpful if you can't find the location of the nests.
Place the trap away from where you are going to be, you want to lure them in the trap.
This trap is very helpful during picnics and cook outs, by drawing them away from you.
The traps come with a lure, however, meat works best in early in the season and fruit juice works well later in the summer and fall months.
For more information on baiting for yellow jackets Click here
Care and Caution: With a little care and caution, yellow jackets can be easily and safely eliminated.
- Treat nest directly at night
- Hang traps or bait stations away from children, people and animals.