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 be asking yourself, “Should I even be worrying 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 with you 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 coloring.

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. Yellow jackets are smooth

There is one main difference between bees and yellow jackets that you should particularly notice. Bees are only able to sting once while yellow jackets can sting multiple times. They have smaller barbs which 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. 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 you come across several yellow jackets, that means there is probably a hive nearby. Clear the area as quickly as possible
  • If a yellowjacket 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 are infringing on their territory, they are likely to come after you.

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

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

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  • Problems breathing
    • Coughing
    • Weezing
    • 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 any insect stings, you should always carry an epi-pen with you.

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.

  • 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. Most yellow jackets live a little bit less than one year. Like bees, some function as workers or drones. They bring the food back to the colony. 

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

Yellow jackets make their homes in bushes, trees or the eaves or walls of houses. Occasionally, they will build a nest in an attic. Luckily, theses nests rarely cause structural damage to your home.

What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?

Yellow jackets are both pollinators and scavengers. They are attracted to both meat and sweets. They will hang around your trash or any food you leave around outside.

One of the few beneficial aspects of yellow jackets may be that they are known to eat other pesky insects. Unfortunately, the negatives far outweigh the positives when you’re facing a yellow jacket infestation.

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 your home, firstly, do not try to remove them yourself. Additionally, do not try to block the entrance to the hive as that will merely stir them up.

The best thing to do is to call a professional to remove the hive for you. Contact Environmental Pest Management now to schedule a free consultation.