When looking for potentially dangerous pests, it’s not uncommon to watch out for bees and especially wasps. While both are pollinators, wasps are known for behaving more aggressively and having a much more painful sting than bees. Also, unlike the common honeybee, they don’t lose their stinger and die after one attack – meaning they can sting you multiple times.
But what about yellow jackets (and we’re not talking about the TV show)? Many assume these insects are different from “wasps,” but they would be wrong. Keep reading to learn more about yellow jackets, including what makes them distinct.
Yellow Jackets 101
Yellow jackets, or “yellowjackets,” do indeed belong to the wasp family. Regardless of species, all yellow jackets share common characteristics, including thread-like antennae and two sets of wings. They are often confused with other members of the wasp family, like the European hornet and paper wasp, due to their black-and-yellow striped pattern. However, there are multiple types of unique yellow jacket species, each with distinguishable characteristics.
The most commonly encountered type is the German or European yellow jacket (Vespula germanica), which has a black head and thorax with bright yellow and black stripes around the abdomen and three tiny black dots on the head. Other species of yellow jackets include:
- the North American or eastern yellow jacket (Vespula maculifrons), which has a duller yellow color on its abdomen;
- the southern yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa,) which has clear wings and a hairless body;
- and the aerial yellow jacket (Dolichovespula arenaria,) which has a lack of black markings in the ocular sinus.
All these species are generally about 0.5 inches long, though some have been known to be as big as 0.625 inches.
How to Spot a Yellow Jacket
Yellow jacket nests can be located around the exterior of buildings, in holes in the ground, or inside trees. Occasionally, you may also find nests in garbage cans and compost bins, so keep an eye out if you have these items outside your home or business.
Yellow jackets are social creatures, generally active between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so this is the most likely window to spot them flying around your property. They also fly in a straight path, so if you see an insect making crazy patterns, it’s likely not a yellow jacket. They are generally attracted to protein-based foods and sugars, so try not to leave these foods out. Above all else, remember that yellow jackets will swarm if their nests are disrupted, so if you see multiple yellow jackets on your property, call a professional and do not approach.
Spidexx Pest Control Knows Yellow Jackets
For your safety, removing a nest is almost always a task better left to a professional. At Spidexx Pest Control, we proudly offer wasp control and yellow jacket control for residential and commercial properties. We know dealing with dangerous pests is nobody’s idea of a good time, but we aim to provide fast and efficient services that will leave your home or business safe. With wasp season lasting from June until late fall, do not hesitate to call us today.