Yellow jackets are aggressive stinging insects that are commonly encountered in the summer and fall.
|Color||The coloration varies by species, but the most commonly encountered yellow jackets typically have abdomens that are banded with yellow and black. Their legs are yellow in color.|
|Size||Workers are about 3/8 - 5/8" long, and queens are 3/4" long.|
|Appearance||Yellow jackets earn their name for their typical black and yellow colors. They have two sets of wings and a narrow waist.|
They feed on insects including caterpillars, flies and other flying insects. As colonies increase, they are attracted to sweet foods consumed by humans.
Habitat & Nests
Yellow jackets 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. Yellow jacket 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, yellow jackets will build both aerial and underground nesting sites. When disturbed, yellow jackets are quite aggressive, and can attack in large numbers.
Colonies & Life Cycle
The queen builds a small paper nest and lays several eggs that hatch and mature to adult workers. Like most other social insects, the workers tend to the food gathering for the queen and larvae, nest repairs and protection of the colony. Yellow jackets colonies peak in size in late summer and early fall with 1000-4000 workers. The increase in population and aggression leads to an increase in yellow jacket stings. During the peak population period, the colony produces reproductive cells that produce new queens and males. These eventually leave the nest to mate. Inseminated queens fall to the ground and seek out a protected place such as a brush pile, a hollow tree, or a building to spend the winter. Males that have successfully mated quickly die. Colonies begin to decline by fall and newly fertilized queens are the only members of the colony that overwinter. A new colony cycle begins the next spring.
Signs of Infestation
The best way to detect wasp activity is to inspect for the presence of nests or activity of the workers as they come and go. Check your home and garden in early spring for nests the size of walnuts or golf balls. Additionally, look for nests in lofts, garages, sheds, cavity walls or under eaves. Early nests have fewer wasps and are easier to treat quickly.
When a colony within a building wall void gets large, you may be able to hear the noise from within a room.
Be very cautious around yellow jackets, since they are known to be more aggressive in the fall.
Prevention & Control
The best way to prevent a paper wasp infestation and the potential of getting stung is to make the home less attractive to the stinging insect.
- Keep windows and doors shut to prevent wasps entering inside your home.
- Seal cracks and crevices in the home with a silicone-based caulk.
- Repair any tears in screens.
- Ensure outside garbage bins have tightly fitting lids. Keep bins at a distance from doors and windows so wasps are not attracted to the contents.
- Frequent removal of garbage around picnic sites will reduce problems with yellow jackets.
- Keep food covered, especially when outdoors, to help keep these insects at bay when they are in search of nourishment.
- If you have spotted a nest, make sure you keep children and pets away from the area.
- Get early nest treatment.
- Avoid swatting at the yellow jacket or running, as quick movements may elicit an attack.
- Avoid the use of scented perfumes and soaps, and wear gray, white or tan to reduce the chances of a yellow jacket approaching you.
Yellow jacket stings most often occur when homeowners attempt to remove nests themselves. We strongly recommend relying on the expertise of a pest control professional to remove yellow jacket nests. In order to get rid of paper wasps on a property, all adults in the nest need to be eliminated otherwise the colony will quickly rebuild. Once the colony is eliminated, the rest of the nest can be removed.
A Batzner Service Specialist will come to your property to identify the nesting sites and determine the proper treatment method. Once treatment is applied it may take up to 72 hours to see a reduction in activity at the nesting site. A preventative exterior treatment is also available to deter paper wasps from building nests in your eaves, soffits, and peaks.