Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets, a predatory ground-dwelling wasp, get their name from the yellow and black markings on their body. They are about as long as two pencil erasers in size. Some “yellow” jackets white and black.  A this insect’s waist is thinner than a bee’s, but they are faster moving than the paper wasp. Unlike a honey bee, yellowjackets are very aggressive and will swarm and sting a person quickly if their nest is disturbed.

Yellow jackets are wasps though many consider them hornets.  At a glance you may think they are honey bees, but  bees rarely are interested in your picnic table food. Yellow jackets are a major nuisance when eating outdoors because they are attracted to many of the same foods that we enjoy.  Paper wasps (the large wasps that slowly hover your lawn in summer and nest under the eaves of your porch or in your gutter) are often mistaken for yellow jackets. The easiest way to tell them apart is the yellowjacket lives in a hole, with no visible hive above ground, and they fly very fast and erratically (they love to hover in your face and around food). Paper wasps  on the other hand fly much more slowly, are often disinterested in people and live above ground, often on structures.

Yellowjacket Wasp Habits

Yellow jackets are predators and scavengers that eat other insects and dead animal flesh. Most yellow jackets build nests (hives) underground, in abandoned burrows of gophers, moles, voles and ground squirrels. The will also build nests under lifted concrete, in tree hollows, and in other crevices large enough to house the thousands of insects that make up a yellow jacket colony.

Life Cycle

The hive queen yellow jacket lays her first eggs in the spring after hiding out for the winter alone in a protected place. Typically all the other members of her hive perish in the winter and the queen lives to build a new hive in the spring. She will rear over a thousand adult yellow jackets by the year’s end. A colony may contain 1,000 or more workers by fall. Similar to honeybees, the colony is comprised of sterile female workers with males emerging at mating time.

When To Take Action

Yellow jackets will swarm anyone or anything that disturbs their hive. Lawn mowers, children’s toys, dogs playing fetch or anything else that inadvertently steps near a yellow jacket hive will cause the workers to swarm and attack by the hundreds. Their sting is painful, and each wasp can give a person multiple stings. Unlike honey bees, yellow jackets can sting repeatedly. Yellow jacket stings may cause dangerous allergic reactions in some people and obviously a LOT of pain.

How To Get Rid of Yellow Jackets
When yellow jackets have nested in a location that may lead to a dangerous interaction with people, it is time to implement a wasp treatment program.  We carefully inspect your property and when the hive entrance is located, we treat the hive with approved products that a licensed pest control company like Smith’s Gopher Trapping Service can apply. All pest control products we apply will be used in accordance with the product’s label.

As with many pest issues, good sanitation will reduce the problem. Keeping trash and other food sources sealed up will force yellow jackets to look elsewhere for their meals, and reduce the interactions between wasp and human.

For more information, call Smith’s Gopher Trapping Service. We cover the whole San Francisco Bay Area from Monterey to Marin and out to Concord. We specialize in the elimination of underground pests including gophers, moles, rats ground squirrels and yellow jackets and other wasps.

Smith’s Gopher Trapping Service 408-871-6988