Yellow Jackets


The yellow jacket’s most notable place in American popular culture is as a mascot at many public schools and universities.

“Yellow jacket” is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the wasp genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Most of these are black and yellow while others may have a red abdomen. They only live in colonies (versus solitary wasp species) and display a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing.

Yellow jackets may be confused with other wasps or hornets, as they are similar in size and appearance and are capable of stinging. A typical yellow jacket worker is about 12 mm long, with alternating bands on the abdomen; the queen is larger, about 19 mm long (the different patterns on their abdomens help separate various species). Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests.

All species have yellow or white on their faces. The mouthparts are well-developed with strong mandibles for capturing and chewing insects, with probosces for sucking nectar, fruit, and other juices.

Yellow jackets are primarily groundnesters, but they also construct aerial Subterranean nests may befound in gardens, flower beds, pastures, roadside embankments and elsewhere. Aerial nests are typically constructed in trees, under eaves, in wall voids of buildings, in open garages and storage sheds, on porches, in abandoned furniture and in other places that provide protection and are close to food and water. Because of their scavenging behavior, yellow jackets are a menace around parks, camps and suburban sites where people leave open food and discard garbage.


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