Yellow Jackets

Pest Control – Yellow Jackets

Class-Insecta – Order: Hymenoptera – Family: Vespidae

Yellow-jacket adult workers are 3/8-5/8″ long, depending on species; queens are 25% longer. There are 16 species in the United States.

Life Cycle of Wasps

Wasps undergo an annual cycle, and only queens that have mated in the fall or early winter survive. These queens spend the winter in protected sites, such as under bark, stones, shutters, shingles, rodent dens, attics, and wall voids.

In the spring, a queen emerges to establish a colony, laying from 10 to 20 eggs. Because no workers are yet present to help her raise her brood she alone has the burden of foraging for food, feeding the young, and collecting wood from which she manufactures the paper used in nest construction.

With the maturation of this first brood of workers, the queen gives up all her duties except that of egg laying. She remains in the nest, and the workers forage for food and wood, feed the young, and enlarge, repair, and defend the nest. At the end of the summer, nests have multiple combs, thousands of cells, and thousands of workers, and the colony then begins to produce males and new queens, which fly out and mate. The males die after mating and the mated females seek overwintering sites. The workers and original founding queen of the colony do not survive the winter. In the spring the cycle begins again.


Yellowjacket nests are built entirely of chewed wood fibers and consist of multiple stacked combs completely enclosed by a paper envelope, except for a small entrance at the bottom of the nest.

Nests may be built underground in rodent burrows or other soil cavities, on tree limbs, as well as in walls, attics and under eaves.


Insects and nectar; insects, spiders, meats, and a wide variety of other food items.


Yellow jackets are aggressive and may sting when provoked. They are especially aggressive near their nest. As fall approaches after the new queens have been produced the workers become even more protective and may attack in large numbers if anyone passes anywhere near the nest.

When Yellow Jackets are disturbed, give them plenty of room since they are capable of inflicting painful, multiple stings. If Yellow Jackets become excited and appear about to attack, do not panic. Retreat slowly and calmly from the area. While most other wasps use the sting and venom to immobilize their prey, Yellow Jackets use it almost exclusively to defend their nest.

Bald Faced Hornet

Bald faced hornets are actually not hornets at all, they are members of the yellowjacket genus, and have the same basic biology and habits of yellowjackets. They are black with cream colored markings on the head, thorax, and abdomen. They are larger than yellowjackets, and are nearly as aggressive as yellowjackets, but have a more painful sting.

Paper Wasps

The European paper wasp is not native to North America. It arrived in America sometime before 1981 appearing first in Massachusetts and has since spread westward, now occurring as far west as California, Oregon and Washington. This new wasp makes a larger nest than our native paper wasp species and builds these nests in more accessible places. Whereas native paper wasps build nests in high, out-of-the-way sites such as along the eves of a roof, European paper wasps build nests closer to the ground. This wasp is so successful that it sometimes displaces our native paper wasp The Golden Paper Wasp. These wasps as a group are not aggressive; it is rare to hear from someone that they have been stung by a paper wasp.

Yellowjacket Prevention Tips

Yellowjacket activity can be discouraged in the vicinity of patios, parks, picnic and other recreational areas by covering all food and disposing of waste in covered containers. Yellow Jackets are most commonly seen in large numbers during late summer and fall when the colonies have become large, food sources decline, and the worker wasps forage widely to collect food for their growing colonies.


Consider calling Action Pest Control Inc. to treat nests, especially in attics and wall voids for safety reasons. Homeowners trying to treat nests in close quarters like an attic are often badly stung or otherwise injured.Schedule a free estimate today.

If you are allergic to wasp stings, do not risk removing the nest yourself. Some people react strongly to the stings of bees and wasps. Symptoms can include swelling, nausea, dizziness, difficulty with breathing, and shock. Symptoms may be immediate or delayed for several hours. For most people without allergies, a sting may be no more than a minor annoyance or irritation at the time of the sting. Knowing this may help you decide if you want to risk being stung during a “do it yourself” control operation.

Do not attempt to remove the nest until you are certain that all wasps are dead. This may take a day or two, since some foragers do not return to the nest every night. However, when they do return, the insecticide residue should kill them rapidly.