Everything You Need to Know About Yellow Jackets

Summer is almost here. At this time of year, people who spend time outdoors are likely to encounter yellow jackets, the unpleasant summer wasp often found at picnics, barbecues, potlucks, and parties. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to know as much as you can about yellow jackets. Having information about these pests can help you avoid problems as the summer progresses.

Where Do Yellow Jackets Live?

Yellow jackets are found all over the United States in environments that range from urban to rural. Yellow jackets live in voids where they build their paper nests and are often found nesting in old burrows or inside hollow areas of logs in “nature”. They also build their nests in the voids in our homes, like between the inner and exterior walls of our homes. In the Chicago area the workers, sterile females, live one season and die at the end of the season from the cold. The new reproductive queens survive the winter because they find an insulated environment where they overwinter and survive the cold.

Early in their season usually their homes are difficult to find but as numbers increase so does activity and in the last half of their season the nest locations are easily determined. Homeowners who think they have a yellow jacket nest on their property may be able to find the nest by following a yellow jacket or by watching for a location where yellow jackets seem to emerge from the ground or some other void.

What Do Yellow Jackets Like to Eat?

Yellow jackets have a varied diet. The adults are looking mostly for carbs in a liquid or semi liquid state. The developing young need lots of protein, so insect hunting provides that protein source for the young. When living around human populations, yellow jackets will eat human foods when they can find it. Fruit, tree sap, nectar, and garbage are all a source of food for yellow jackets.

What Do Yellow Jackets Look Like?

Yellow jackets are usually easily recognizable by their bright yellow and black coloring. They have long wings and are far thinner and less hairy than bumble bees. In length, yellow jackets are between 10 and 16 millimeters. You can find them crawling on leftover foods, flying through the garden, and crawling over flowers.

Can Yellow Jackets Be Prevented?

Yellow jackets can be hard to predict. They don’t use the same nest from one season to another, so you can’t prevent them by treating the same holes and hiding places year after year. However, you can make your property a less desirable location for yellow jackets to live or forage for resources.

For example, homeowners who take measures to cover their garbage, avoid leaving food out on the patio, and clean up their messes after picnics and parties may be less likely to attract yellow jackets. Remember to always shut the garbage lid all the way when throwing away trash, as a partially cracked lid can be a point of entry for a yellow jacket.

Because they make a paper nest untreated wood can attract yellow jackets, so the natural looking wooden deck may need to have a coat of polyurethane to avoid yellow jackets and other paper wasps from being drawn to the area.

Denying access to voids also can help stop a yellow jacket issue before it starts, caulking between the window frame and the brick walls of a home, as an example, will prevent yellow jackets from using the area as a nesting site.

Performing standard home maintenance is also important. Yellow jackets like to nest in old rotting wood, hollow tubes like open chain-link fence posts, and in crevices in the earth. Cover up crevices and remove rotten logs or tree stumps to help prevent yellow jackets from finding a suitable place to nest on your property.

Working with a pest control company can help as well. Your pest control company can give suggestions for avoiding, locating, and eliminating yellow jacket resources.

Are Yellow Jackets Aggressive?

Yes, yellow jackets are generally aggressive. Most yellow jackets sting people as a method of defending their colony, and they are known to follow people that they wish to sting. They can sting quickly and repeatedly without their stinger becoming lodged in the body of the person who is being stung. Stings from yellow jackets are a common problem in summer and only become more common as the summer progresses.

People can avoid stings from yellow jackets by staying away from these pests. If you encounter a yellow jacket, avoid contact. Do not swat or step on a yellow jacket. Back away from the insect slowly without provoking it.

How Can You Soothe a Sting From a Yellow Jacket?

If you are stung by a yellow jacket, wash the sting and then apply ice. If you have an antihistamine, take it to reduce swelling.

Call emergency services if you begin to experience difficulty breathing or if your tongue or throat begins to swell. If you have an allergy to yellow jacket stings, you may need to keep an antihistamine auto injector on hand. Talk to your doctor to find out what you need to do to protect yourself from yellow jacket stings.

What Should You Do About a Yellow Jacket Nest?

If you have a yellow jacket nest on your property, contact a pest control company to get assistance. Working with a professional to eliminate the nest can help ensure that it is done safely and effectively.

How Can You Find Out More About Yellow Jackets?

If you have more questions about yellow jackets, contact a reputable pest control company in your area. At A-Alert Exterminating Service, Inc., we’re happy to answer your questions and give you more information about yellow jackets and other stinging pests. Contact us today to find out more.

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