Yellow Jacket Facts & Information

Everything you need to know about yellow jackerts

Not surprisingly, yellow jackets get their common name from their typical black and yellow color pattern banded across their abdomens. While most species are yellow and black, some can also have white or red markings.Yellow jacket adults have a distinctive segmented body with a thin waist. They are hairless and have elongated wings. When at rest yellow jackets fold their wings laterally against their body. They are also equipped with antennae and have six legs. Adults typically grow to between 3/8 and 5/8 inch in length.

Yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets may look alike and have similar characteristics, but they can be very different in their level of aggressiveness and their habits. It is important to properly identify the type of stinger in your home or garden before attempting any type of control. They can be pretty aggressive so if you see them around, bring in a yellow jacket exterminator will perform yellow jacket removal for you – while you’re safely inside.

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Where Are Yellow Jackets Found

Yellowjackets are found worldwide, and there are about 16 species that reside in the U.S. They are social insects that have annual colonies with only the queen living through winter to start a new colony in the spring. She is the queen after all. Depending on the species, the queen will pick either an underground or aerial site to build her nest. Common places for a nest are attached to bushes, trees, or the eaves of homes. Yellowjacket nests are built with a recognizable paper-like material made from chewed cellulose.

Like many other flying insects, adult yellow jackets feed on sugary substances such as flower nectar, fruit, and the occasional soda when they find an open can. What makes yellow jackets unique is that they consume protein in their larval stage. Workers bring insects and other types of meat back to the nest as food for the larvae. Most homeowners consider yellow jackets a pest, and if you are allergic, they certainly are, but their diet actually makes them an important part of garden pest control.

How Did I Get Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets in your house after the time of frost and the first freezing weather are almost most likely originating from a nest in a wall of the house. If the nest has been in the wall since spring, the yellow jackets probably spent all summer using a “front door” from the nest that lead outdoors into the yard where they fed on caterpillars and nectar. When the food sources disappeared after frost, and when it got cold out in the yard, they turned to exploring the warm side of the wall and found a “back door” into the living space of the house. Yellow jackets inside the house are often sluggish, but may be active enough to sting if the temperature is sufficiently warm or they feel their nest is threatened. They are extremely territorial! Yellow jackets rely on protein to survive and feed their young, and they’ll build nests anywhere they can find it. So, having a nest outside is just a fact of life! If you have flies, caterpillars, spiders, or other insects on your property, yellow jackets will arrive to feast on those favored food sources. We can remove the nest but how you got them is just nature.

Problems Caused by Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets can be aggressive but are more so in the fall. They won’t merely attack to sting. Yellow jackets will chase you and can and will sting multiple times. Multiple stings from yellow jackets are common because they’re sensitive to disturbance and aggressive in defense of their nests. Sometimes merely coming near a nest, especially if it has been disturbed previously, can provoke an attack. They are an issue for people and pets but those with allergies are most at risk. A nest can hold up to 4,000 yellow jackets so trying to take care of them yourself can result in a painful, or deadly, result. Attempting to remove the nest without a professional could result in being stung or driving the insects into your home. Proper removal requires special equipment and safety precautions and is best handled by a professional. Rather bring in someone who can help with yellow jacket control safely with the proper yellow jacket treatments.

How Do I Prevent Yellow Jackets

One of the best ways to prevent yellow jackets is to reduce or remove their food sources. Tough to remove all the caterpillars outside, of course, but inside your home, having general pest control done year round will help take care of their favorite foods. Professional exclusion services will identify and fill cracks and crevices in your foundation as well as identify where siding is coming away from the house and allowing the queen to find her way in and start her new colony. Keeping trash cans clean and covering serving dishes when dining outside can reduce their presence. Also avoid wearing brightly colored clothing and floral perfumes, to which yellow jackets are drawn. Lure traps can be set to discourage foragers from visiting, but if there’s food, they are likely to show up, which is why you’ll see them buzzing around the watermelon at your BBQ.


We’re passionate about keeping stinging pests out of your home or business because we live and work here – it’s our neighborhood, too. We’ve been keeping homes and businesses in Kentucky, Indiana, and portions of Ohio safe from pests since 1972. OPC Pest Services has the experience you can trust.
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“They were very responsive and helped get rid of our yellow jacket nest.”

Stephanie M.
Louisville, KY