It’s picnic season, and yellowjackets couldn’t be happier. There are a lot of misconceptions about yellowjackets, from their appearance to their stinging habits. As yellowjackets are starting to become commonplace at our outdoor summer activities, it is important to know fact from fiction when it comes to this nuisance insect. In this post we will review the appearance and habits of the yellowjacket and some steps to take if you encounter them on your property.
Yellowjackets (or yellow jackets) are often mistaken for hornets or bees due to their physical similarities, but they are actually classified as wasps. Yellowjackets possess vibrant yellow coloring while the honey bee is more amber in color. Yellowjackets also have sleeker bodies, which are more shiny than furry. Their bodies, banded in alternating black and yellow, can reach lengths of 5/8”.
Yellowjackets are social insects, living in nests or colonies that can reach 5,000 workers in peak stage. The workers are made up of sterile females, males, and queens which first appear in late summer. Aerial yellowjackets are known to build their nests in bushes, shrubs, sheds, garages, or other structures. Some yellowjackets prefer to build their nests underground making them more difficult to detect. No matter where the nest is located, it is consistently protected by nest guards.
The nesting and foraging habits of the yellowjacket make them true nuisance pests. The queen often looks for a sheltered place to create her nest, which often means the inside or protected outside of a building. The workers are aggressive foragers- keen on sweets often found in soda, meats, and garbage. This aggressive nature also comes through when they feel their food source or nest is at risk. Yellowjackets can sting several times unlike many of their bee counterparts. The stings can be very painful, sometimes life threatening for those with allergic reactions. For these reasons the yellowjacket is considered the number one wasp pest in the state of California. Below is a yellowjacket nest removed from an Advanced IPM customer's property last July.
Prevention and Control:
Yellowjacket control is recommended whenever nests are located on or near occupied structures or yellowjackets are seen foraging in the area of concern. It is always recommended to have a licensed pest control technician perform an inspection before any action is taken. The improper sealing or removal of a nest can actually do more damage, driving the yellowjackets indoors.
In order to prevent further yellowjacket issues, routine inspections are highly recommended. At Advanced Integrated Pest Management, our technicians are trained to look for any potential issues on a regular basis. Having a preventative program in place will help protect your home, school, or business from yellowjackets and other pests. Call today for a free inspection with one of our friendly and experienced technicians.