Yellow jackets can grow to an inch long.
Yellow jackets are yellow and black, and specific identification of each species is done with differences in the patterns of the black patches. Yellow jackets have two pair of wings that are of different shape and size.
Yellow jackets are social wasps that live together in colonies. A queen initiates the colony and female workers build the nest, care for the young, forage for food, and defend the colony. Colonies typically begin each spring and die off each fall, but may survive over the winter in warmer climates. The population of the colony easily grows to many thousands of workers. At the end of the summer, males are produced, mating takes place, and fertilized queens over-winter in protected locations. Nests are placed in aerial locations such as trees, shrubs, wall voids, or attics, as well as in the ground, where workers enlarge holes they find to accommodate the growing colony. Colonies near a home are dangerous and should be eliminated.
Adults feed on sweet liquids such as honeydew, nectar, fruit juices, or human foods such as soda.
Queens emerge during the spring and select a nest site. They then build a small paper nest in which to lay their eggs. After eggs hatch, the queen feeds the young for about 20 days. By mid-summer, the adult workers emerge and begin nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.
Yellow jackets are some of the most aggressive wasps and will sting repeatedly to defend their colony from perceived intruders. Many people think yellow jackets are bees, however, they are wasps.
If yellow jackets are nesting within a structure, the nest and entry openings should be dusted with a residual insecticide. Trapping alone, with Yellow Jacket Traps will capture many of foraging workers, but will not reduce the overall colony.