The wrong side of the screen: Yellow jackets

by on 05/22/2014 - 03:22 pm

Category: Home

By Gary Jones, Ideal Pest Control


Yellow jackets are wasps that can be identified by their alternating black and yellow body segments and small size (about 10 to 16 mm in length). Although most yellow jackets are indeed black and yellow, some may exhibit white and black coloration.


Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees, although their bodies lack significant hair, rounded abdomen, and the expanded hind legs used for carrying pollen—all characteristics of the bee. These social wasps live in colonies that may contain more than 1,000 insects at a time, and while some may consider yellow jackets to be beneficial because they eat beetle grubs, flies and other harmful pests, they are also known scavengers who eat meat, fish, and sugary substances (like hot dogs and soft drinks)—making them a dangerous nuisance near trash receptacles and picnics.


Many yellow jackets are ground-nesters. Their colonies can be found under porches or steps, in sidewalk cracks, around railroad ties, or at the base of trees. Some yellow jackets build aerial nests in bushes or low-hanging branches or in the corners of buildings and other man-made structures. 



A queen yellow jacket starts a new nest by building a small paper nest in which she lays the first batch of eggs. After hatching, these eggs are fed by the queen until they mature into adult yellow jackets. Adults live through one season and feed on caterpillars, grubs, and other insects, as well as the aforementioned popular picnic items. By the fall, a colony may contain 1,000 or more workers—all of which are sterile females. In late summer, males will begin to appear. When they become adults, the males will mate with the females that will become next year’s queens. These queens-to-be hibernate through the winter, while the female workers and the males perish when the weather turns cold.


For seasons free of unwanted pests, call Ideal Pest Control at 330-963-0085 or 330-562-8650. Visit to learn more. Offices are located at 711 East Twinsburg Road, Unit 8, in Northfield Center.