Yellow Jackets

OVERVIEW

Yellowjacket or yellow jacket is the common name in North America for predatory social wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as “wasps” in other English-speaking countries.

Biology & Behavior

Adults live through one season and feed on caterpillars, grubs and other insects. They also enjoy nectar and sweet substances such as fruit and tree sap. Yellow jackets are attracted to garbage and other human foods, particularly meats and sweets.

Signs

Yellow jackets usually enter yards because they smell food or other attractant. Meats and sweets often attract these pests to grills and patio dining areas. Open waste cans and outdoor picnics are also an invitation to hungry yellow jackets.

Many yellow jackets are ground-nesters. Their colonies can be found under porches or steps, in sidewalk cracks, around railroad ties or at the base of trees. Sometimes the queen uses a wall void of a building as a nesting place. Some yellow jackets build aerial nests in bushes or low-hanging branches or in the corners of buildings and other manmade structures.

Damage

Typically, yellow jackets do not cause structural damage to homes. They might, however, build nests in attics or walls and defend them. On occasion, the pests chew through drywall to enter living spaces.

If disturbed when they are out foraging or protect their hives, yellow jackets will defend themselves. Their stings can be painful. It is best to avoid a yellow jacket nest as much as possible.

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