Pest Facts: Yellow Jackets
Yellow jackets receive their common name from their typical black and yellow color pattern. They are worldwide in distribution with 16 species in the United States.
- Color: Predominantly Black with yellow bands
- Legs: Six
- Shape: Elongate; wasp shape
- Size: 3/8 to 5/8 inch
- Antennae: Yes
- Flying: Yes
- Region: All 50 states
Yellow Jackets are social insects and live in colonies. Nest size varies but usually contains 1,000 to 4,000 workers. Some species maintain their nests for many years and may contain multiple queens and tens of thousands of workers.
Most species of Yellow Jackets are ground nesting but can form aerial colonies. The nest or hive will consists of a number of rounded paper combs attached one below another and covered with a multiple layered paper envelope.
Yellow jackets are slow to sting unless the nest entrance is approached, and then they are quite aggressive. Each worker can sting a number of times, inflicting much pain. Some people are quite sensitive to their stings and can be life threatening.
Yellow jackets should be addressed by a professional. Removal of a yellow jacket nest and the comb product must be handled with caution. Because Yellow jacket colonies are so large, only a pest control professional can safely remove a nest.