European Wasp on a white background. Specimen ...

Yellowjacket is the common name in North America for a species of predatory wasps. Most of these are black and yellow or black and white, while others may have a red abdomen color mixed with yellow; instead of black. Because of this, Yellowjackets have sometimes been mistakenly referred to as “bees.” nevertheless, these wasps can be identified by their distinctive markings, small size, occurrence (only) in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern; prior to landing. All female members of the species are able to sting multiple times, causing incredible pain to anyone, who has been stung.

Yellowjackets build nests in trees, shrubs, or in protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, in sheds, under porches, and eaves of houses), or in soil cavities, mouse burrows, etc. Colonies are annual, with only inseminated queens surviving over the winter. Fertilized queens take shelter in protected areas like hollow logs, inside stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and cause pest control problems in homes, structures and dwellings. If the queen survives the winter, she will emerge during the warm days in the late spring or early summer, select a nesting site, and build a small paper nest; in which to lay her eggs. From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest, laying eggs. The wasp colony then expands very rapidly, reaching a maximum size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers.

Two-year yellowjacket nest
Two-year yellowjacket nest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yellowjackets are important predators and providers of natural insect control services. Their mouthparts are well-developed with strong mandibles for capturing and chewing insects, which they then feed to the larvae. As well, these wasps have a proboscis for sucking nectar, fruit, and other juices. Although adults feed primarily on items rich in sugars and carbohydrates (fruits, flower nectar, and tree sap), the Yellowjacket wasp’s larvae feeds on proteins (insects, meats, fish, etc.).


One thought on “Yellowjackets

  1. In the UK unfortunately the honey bees are often mistaken for the common or german wasp. Many people just want them destroyed but I try at all times to avoid killing any bees even if it does leave me out of pocket!

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