Stinging insects of all kinds can cause a scare. Just because bees are helpful to the environment doesn’t mean we want to risk them stinging us. Other stinging insects, like yellow jackets, can sting multiple times and are far more easily provoked — these are the real yard pests to be frightened of.
Yellow Jackets Versus Other Wasps
The term “wasp” applies to all kinds of stinging insects that aren’t bees, but yellow jackets are a specific variety. It’s important to be able to identify pests around your property, so you know what specific actions to take. So how do we tell yellow jackets apart from these other insects? These are the main traits to look for:
- Color: Yellowjackets have black and yellow bodies, with brighter yellow stripes than the golden or amber colors of honeybees. However, some varieties of bees and hornets can have similar coloration, so you’ll need some other identifiers, too.
- Sleek bodies: Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, yellow jackets don’t have prominent hairs all over their bodies. Their legs can have a few small hairs, but their tops will generally appear shiny and non-furry.
- Shape: Yellowjackets have much thinner and elongated bodies than bees. Hornets, which also lack body hairs, are much larger than yellow jackets, often over 2 inches in length.
- Behavior: The surest way to identify a yellow jacket is by how aggressive they are. While bees will generally only sting if provoked, yellow jackets are more aggressive and territorial, able to sting multiple times. They will do so readily if humans or other animals go in the vicinity of their nests.
The Unique Life Of A Yellow Jacket
Most varieties of wasp are solitary insects, hunting alone and only pairing off with others to mate. Yellowjackets, however, are social wasps and exist in colonies like bees or ants. As such, they have a caste system, with workers, hunters, and reproductive queens.
Because they divide the tasks of survival up between them, yellow jacket colonies can survive year-to-year. While most yellow jackets die off in the winter, inseminated queens can survive until spring in order to repopulate colonies. That’s what’s happening right now, and as colonies are replenished, yellow jacket activity will increase.
Yellow Jacket Prevention For Your Yard
Keeping yellow jackets out of your yard in the first place is the best way to not have to deal with these pests. Removing a nest can be a dangerous proposition, so it pays to know what you can do to make your yard less attractive to yellow jackets looking for new homes in the first place.
- Landscaping: Yellowjackets make their nests in protective foliage like bushes and trees. Keeping these trimmed will limit the real estate available for wasp nests. A lack of leafy foliage to protect them from the sun and other predators will discourage yellow jackets from nesting in your yard.
- Water: Yards with fountains, ponds or other water features are automatically more attractive to wasps because they provide easy access to hydration. When these features are near trees and bushes, this factor is compounded.
- Aromas: While yellow jackets primarily eat other insects, they, like other stinging insects, are attracted to sugars and sweet-smelling foods. Discarded beverage containers or fruit scraps can be a beacon for wasps.
Smith’s Has The Expert Advice
Since removing a yellow jacket nest is so dangerous, it’s best to turn to the professionals if an infestation has made a home out of your yard. Smith’s Pest Management has trained technicians who know how to get rid of all kinds of wasp nests in the safe and correct way. We can also provide expert tips and tricks on how to prevent insect colonies from forming on your property in the first place.
For superior advice or assistance with yellow jackets and other wasp infestations, turn to Smith’s today.