They may look like bees, but these black and yellow predators are much meaner than their honey-producing doppelgangers. You wouldn’t want to run into a pack of these pesky predators!

If a colony of yellow jackets is plaguing you, contact Environmental Pest Management for a free quote. Environmental Pest Management uses only environmentally friendly products to rid you of bothersome pests and insects in a flash!

You may ask yourself, “Should I even worry about yellow jackets? What’s the big deal?” Let me assure you; they are a big deal. You don’t want them around your home or family.

Let us share some information about yellow jackets and why they can be dangerous.

The Common yellow jacket eating

What Do Yellow Jackets Look Like?

Yellow jackets usually range in size between 10 and 16 mm. While they most often display a striped black and yellow appearance, they can also be black and white in color.

They do look similar to bees, but there are a few ways to spot the difference:

  • Yellow jackets’ waists are thinner and longer than bees’.
  • Yellow jackets’ wings are longer and lighter than their body and lay laterally across their backs when at rest.
  • Bees are hairy, while yellow jackets are smooth.

There is one main difference between bees and yellow jackets that you should particularly notice. Bees can only sting once, while yellow jackets can sting multiple times because they have smaller barbs that allow them to sting repeatedly.

Which brings us to:

What Do I Do If I Get Stung By A Yellow Jacket?

Ideally, you should avoid getting stung in the first place. Notwithstanding, there are a few simple precautions you can take to lower the likelihood of a sting.

  • If you are eating outside, dispose of your food quickly and remove trash from your immediate area.
  • If you are hiking or walking and come across several yellow jackets, you should know that a yellowjacket nest is probably nearby. Clear the area as quickly as possible.
  • If a yellow jacket lands on you or flies near you, don’t swat at it. Aggression from you may lead to an attack from the bug.

Fortunately, yellow jackets are only aggressive when they feel threatened. If they think you infringe on their territory, they will likely come after you.

Yellow jacket stings can be excruciating. Some common effects you can expect are mild swelling and irritation at the nest site.

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to a sting. Some symptoms to look out for are:

  • Problems breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms following a sting from a yellow jacket, consult a physician immediately. If you know you are allergic to insect stings, you should always carry an epi-pen when you are out and about.

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yellow jackets are feeding on a ham sandwich.

Thankfully, most people are not allergic and will experience only minor symptoms. There are many easy-to-use, at-home remedies you can try to treat mild irritation. Some of these include:

  • Take an antihistamine
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold compress. Be careful, do not leave an ice pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Make a paste out of baking soda and water. Apply to the sting to neutralize the venom
  • To reduce the itching, apply a cotton swab doused with vinegar
  • To minimize swelling, apply a sprinkling of meat tenderizer, which contains an enzyme called papain that can help break down the venom in an insect sting

For a bit more info, MultiCare has put together this helpful chart. Check it out!

Where Do Yellow Jackets Live?

Yellow jackets live in large colonies, which are typically started by a single queen. Most yellow jackets live for a little less than one year. Like bees, yellow jackets also have workers or drones that bring food back to the colony.

Also, like bees, they have a queen who is the only one to survive through the winter. During the winter, the queen hibernates in a safe space underground or high above the ground. Then, in the spring, she lays her eggs, and the insects that hatch become the new colony.

Yellow jackets make their nests in various locations, including bushes, trees, or the eaves and walls of houses. Occasionally, they may even establish a nest in an attic, although these nests rarely cause structural damage to your home.

Sometimes, they even build a nest underground in abandoned rodent burrows or other hollow spaces. However, unlike bees, yellow jackets are social wasps and can exhibit aggressive behavior to defend their nests.

What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?

In terms of their diet, yellow jackets are both pollinators and scavengers. They are attracted to various food sources, including flower nectar, but they are also drawn to meat and sweets. As a result, they are often found foraging for food around trash cans or any food left outside.

Interestingly, yellow jackets are also known to eat other pesky insects, which can be considered beneficial. However, when facing a yellow jacket infestation, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

yellow jacket wasp perched on the beautiful flower.

What Do I Do If I Find Yellow Jackets In Or Near My Home?

If you find an infestation of yellow jackets in or near your home, do not try to remove them yourself. Additionally, blocking the entrance to the nest will only agitate them, considering they are naturally wired to defend their nests.

The best action is to call a professional pest control service, such as Environmental Pest Management, to safely and effectively remove the yellow jacket nest for you.

Remember, if you encounter yellow jackets, it’s important to be cautious and take necessary precautions to avoid getting stung. And if you or someone you know experiences severe symptoms or allergic reactions from a yellow jacket sting, seek immediate medical attention.