APPEARANCE OF YELLOW JACKETS
Not surprisingly, yellow jackets get their common name from their typical black and yellow color pattern banded across their abdomens. They are primarily flying insects, similar to bees, but are more noticeably segmented with a very small ‘waist.’ While most species are yellow and black, some can also have white or red markings.
Yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets may look alike and have similar characteristics, but they can be very different in their level of aggressiveness and their habits. It is important to properly identify the type of stinger in your home or garden before attempting any type of control.
YELLOW JACKET OR HONEY BEE?
Here’s how to tell
Both insects are yellow with black markings, but yellow jackets are a brighter, shinier yellow. They are hairless and have that famously distinctive thin, wasp-like waist. Honey bees are fatter, less brightly colored and look kind of fuzzy.
If it is honey bees you have, contact your local beekeeper’s association to see if someone wants to come out and move the bee hive, which they would probably do in late fall or early winter.
Alternatively, you could just leave them alone and enjoy the benefits of their pollination (and potentially for a long time — unlike yellow jackets and other wasps, honey bees will continue to use the same nest year after year.) But if they are dangerous and aggressive yellow jackets and they are anywhere near a home, the nest must be destroyed.
YELLOW JACKET HABITATS
Yellow jackets are found worldwide, and there are about 16 species that reside in the U.S. They are social insects that have annual colonies; only the queen lives through winter to start a new colony in the spring. Depending on the species, the queen will pick either an underground or aerial site to build her nest. Common places for a nest are attached to bushes, trees, or the eaves of homes. Yellow jacket nests are built with a recognizable paper-like material made from chewed cellulose.
WHEN YELLOW JACKETS EAT
Like many other flying insects, adult yellow jackets feed on sugary substances such as flower nectar, fruit, and the occasional soda when they find an open can. What makes yellow jackets unique is that they consume protein in their larval stage. Workers bring insects and other types of meat back to the nest as food for the larvae. Most homeowners consider yellowjackets a pest, but their diet actually makes them an important part of garden pest control.
WHEN THEY ATTACK
Yellow jackets are normally very slow to sting, but they are also very territorial. If the entrance to their nest is approached, they will become very aggressive. They can sting multiple times, and their stings can be very painful. People who are allergic to their venom could have a severe reaction, and it is possible to become hypersensitive to yellow jackets after being stung. This sensitivity could cause a serious problem if stung again in the future.
It is very important, if you believe there is a yellow jacket nest on your property, to call a pest professional. Attempting to remove the nest without a professional could result in being stung or driving the insects into your home. Proper removal requires special equipment and safety precautions and is best handled by a professional.
HOW DO WE GET RID OF YELLOW JACKETS?
Yellow jackets can become aggressive and will defend their nest. Unlike bees, yellow jackets can sting multiple times. Never try to remove a swarm or nest yourself. Yellow jackets can build their nests on the ground which can be a real risk to humans. A nest built in the ground in a highly populated area by humans, like a park can be dangerous as people run the risk of stepping on them, causing them to attack the unsuspecting human.
WHY SHOULD I ADDRESS STINGING INSECTS?
Aggressive and territorial by nature, yellow jackets pose serious threats to people especially when doing live bee removal. Since their nests are often built into the ground, people tend to step on them by accident. Yellow jackets will then sting. Unlike honey bee (removal), these bees are able to do so repeatedly. While one sting may not be life-threatening, however, multiple stings can send your body into a state of shock and cause an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive to. This is called an anaphylactic shock.
MOST COMMON DISEASES SPREAD BY YELLOWJACKETS:
Yellow jacket stings can cause very serious symptoms and illness associated with allergic reactions and hypersensitivity to the venom. Perhaps the most recognized reactions are seen when a yellow jacket stings a person, particularly children, who are hypersensitive to the venom. This may result in serious, maybe even life-threatening conditions. These stings generally create lesions and may also involve intense pain, swelling, itching, and potential of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that causes shock. Secondary infections to stings can occur if the bites and stings are not kept clean and properly disinfected.
WHAT ARE SOME PREVENTATIVE MEASURES?
- The most effective prevention is not trying to attract yellow jackets. They are attracted to anything sugary
- Fruit juice, fallen fruit beneath trees and other sweet food sources will attract them as well
- Be careful with foods, especially soda cans
WHAT ARE THE FEES FOR BEE HIVE REMOVAL?
When dealing with bee hive removal, the price is variable, depending on the size and location of the nest. Call us for a free, no obligation quote.