Yellow Jackets are aggressive and will chase any perceived threat for a long distance. Humans or animals may inadvertently become the target and be stung hundreds of times. These small yellow and black insects send out a pheromone alert when intruders come close, and many of the nest will band together to take down the threat. Every year there are news reports of people mowing the lawn or trimming shrubbery and being savagely attacked.
Yellow Jackets are social insects that live in nests with up to 4,000 workers. They are most active in late summer and early autumn when a colony is at its peak. Yellow Jackets feed on sweets and proteins which is why they commonly invade outdoor events such as picnics and barbeques. These stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
While Yellow Jackets can build their nests in wall voids, brick and concrete walls and other structural areas, they most often build them underground. There are many entrance and exit holes so treating just one area may not be enough to eliminate the entire colony. Pouring gasoline on Yellow Jacket nests is not only illegal, it is a terrible idea and will most certainly result in many stings. Professional pest control is highly recommended for this insect.
Color - Yellow
Length - 3/8” to 5/8”
Diet - They feed mainly on insects and spiders, but they also like meat and sweet human foods.
Habitat - Yellow jackets are not picky about where they nest, often building nests in the ground, on trees, holes in a wall or on shrubs. They prefer a cool dark place, and optimally around garbage which can be a major food source for them.
Impact - Since yellow jackets eat insects, and in some cases insects that destroy crops, they can be a help to farmers. However, like the other wasps, they have smooth stingers allowing them to sting multiple times and they also carry a small amount of venom with the sting.
The bald faced hornet derives its name from the patches of white on their face, giving a “bald” appearance.
Color - Black & White
Length - 3/4"
Diet - They feed mainly on nectar and juice from fruit.
Habitat - Bald faced hornets live in large nests that hang from trees, bushes or other vegetation. They can also begin a nest right under the eaves of your home. The nest will often look round or oval, grey in color and can reach the size of a basketball if allowed to grow through the summer.
Impact - These insects will aggressively defend their space. Their stingers are smooth and so they are able to sting more than once. What sets them apart from a regular bee sting is that their sting injects venom into the victim. The venom can cause pain, swell and be itchy.
The European Hornet is typically larger than most other wasps at around 1" to 1 1/2" in length. They also differ in that while other wasps are in the nest at night, these insects will fly around at night. The queen in the nest is the only one to lay eggs and the other females gather food, build the nest, feed the young and protect the nest. There are a few males in the nest, but it is their sole responsibility to mate with the queen. Shortly after mating the males die.
Color - Yellow
Length - 1 1/2”
Diet - Their diet consists of yellow jackets, bees, grasshoppers and flies. They also like juice from fruit, tree sap and other sweet things.
Habitat - They will typically find a protected place, like a hollowed out tree to build a nest. They do not make hives that hang free out in the open. If they can find their way in, they will live in walls that are hollow, sheds or barns.
Impact - These hornets can do some serious damage to trees and shrubs since they use the bark to help build their nests and then also feed on the sap of the tree. Like the bald faced hornet, they also bring a venomous sting to their prey and since their stinger is smooth, they also can sting multiple times.
Wasps make their nests out of paper-like material. Sometimes Paper Wasps are called Umbrella Wasps because of the shape of their distinctive nests. These semi-social insects live in small colonies. They survive by eating other insects and plant nectar. In the autumn, females will overwinter and may find their way into attics or high ceilinged rooms. These wasp nests can be seen hanging from branches and twigs, porch ceilings and the tops of window and doorframes. While not especially aggressive, they can and will sting if disturbed or their nest is threatened. Generally, just leaving them alone if they are not in a high traffic area is the best advice. Before trimming shrubs or hedges check the area for wasp nests. If a nest is found early in the construction process, a garden hose on high pressure may remove the nest and cause the wasps to move on to another location. Once several wasps begin tending the nest, professional pest control help may be necessary.