Social Insects: Yellow Jackets

When we came across the article “Stinging Pest of People” in the PCO Magazine revised by Elmer W. Gray, we felt that it had great information on the yellow jacket and should share it with our blog readers.


Yellow jackets are small (half-inch long) wasps marked with yellow. Colonies are initiated by overwintering queens that make paper nests underground, but occasionally in hollow trees, wall voids and attics or on a branch over a stream. A fully developed nests may contain from a few hundred to many thousand adults. Yellow Jackets feed on a variety of pest insects, but will for age for meat or soft drinks at a picnic, camp or garbage sites. This habit often brings them into close association with people. Good sanitation in picnic areas can help pests. Solitary scavenging yellow jackets are unusually non-aggressive unless handled, but become very aggressive as a group if they believe their nests is threatened. Yellow jackets will vigorously pursue an intruder who threatens their nests and are generally considered the most dangerous of the social insect.


Most social bees, wasps and hornets are beneficial and should not be controlled unless their nest and activities are close to humans and create hazard. For bees, wasps and hornets, apply an insecticide in the evening when they are at rest. With the wind at your back, aim the insecticide at nest openings in trees, bushes, under leaves, ground cracks and crevices in and around nest openings. Re-treatment may  be necessary. If possible, destroy the nest or seal the nest opening. Readily available insecticide include a variety of formulations of aerosols for quick knockdown and kill. Some aerosols produce a jet stream of up to 20 feet for operator safety and the ability to reach nests high off the ground.

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