Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps. Most of these are black and yellow.

Characteristics

They can be identified by their distinctive markings, their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging. Despite having drawn the loathing of humans, yellow jackets are in fact important predators of pest insects.

Life Cycle

Yellow jackets are social hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males (drones). After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. After that, the workers in the colony will take over caring for the larvae, feeding them with chewed up food, meat or fruit. Larvae pupate, then emerge later as small, infertile females called workers. By midsummer, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.

Yellow Jacket Nests

Yellow jacket nests usually last for only one season, dying off in winter. The nest is started by a single queen, called the “foundress”. Typically, a nest can reach the size of a basketball by the end of a season. In southwestern coastal areas of the United States, the winters are mild enough to allow nest overwintering. Nests that survive multiple seasons become massive and often possess multiple egg-laying queens.

How to get rid of them?

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