Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown, usually with yellow markings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Paper carton nests made up of chewed cellulose found in the ground, eaves, or attics


  • Can be very territorial around their nests
  • They are able to sting more than once
  • Seek out fruit and sugar during the summer months

Yellowjackets in Wisconsin

Yellowjackets are aggressive stinging insects that are commonly encountered in the summer and fall. The coloration varies by species, but the most commonly encountered yellowjackets typically have abdomens that are banded with yellow and black. Their legs are yellow in color. They feed on insects including caterpillars, flies, and other flying insects. As colonies increase, they are attracted to sweet foods consumed by humans. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans were it not for their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics, and cavities associated with landscaping features.

Yellowjacket Habitat & Nests

Yellowjackets can be found anywhere humans are found, and nests are constructed of layers of comb made of tiny bits of wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp. Yellowjacket nests can be found in many different places in or around a home, including the ground, hollow trees, shrubs, bushes, or internally in attics, hollow walls or flooring, sheds, under porches, or eaves of buildings. Unlike paper wasps who only build their nests above ground, yellowjackets will build both aerial and underground nesting sites. When disturbed, yellowjackets are quite aggressive and can attack in large numbers.

Yellowjacket Behaviors & Dangers

Yellowjackets are slow to sting unless their nest is threatened. However, yellowjacket stings pose a more serious threat to humans than bees, because a yellowjackets stinger is not barbed like a honey bee, allowing it to sting repeatedly. Some individuals are more sensitive than others, due to allergic reactions, and should seek medical attention when stung.

Sometimes yellowjackets living in wall voids chew their way through the drywall and enter the structure’s living space. Naturally, the presence of large numbers of wasps flying around the room can be alarming to homeowners. If you notice a yellowjacket problem in or near your Wisconsin home, always contact your local wasp removal experts.