Yellow Jacket Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from yellow jackets by learning techniques for identification and control.

Yellow jacket illustration
Vespula spp. & Dolichovespula spp.
Body & yellow body
10 to 16 mm
Thin, defined waist


How do I get rid of yellow jackets?

What Orkin Does

Orkin Pros are trained to help manage yellow jackets and other stinging pests. Since every yard or home is different, the Orkin Pro will design a unique treatment program for your situation.

Keeping yellow jackets out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep yellow jackets in their place…out of your home.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Yellow Jackets


Yellow jackets, genera Dolichovespula and Vespula, are wasps that can be identified by their alternating black and yellow body segments and small size.

  • Length: They measure 10 to 16 mm in length

  • Color: Most yellow jackets are black and yellow, although some may exhibit white and black coloration.

  • Thin waist: In contrast to the bee, the yellow jacket’s waist is thinner and defined.

  • Wings: Their elongated wings are as long as the body and fold laterally when at rest.


Yellow jackets are pollinators and may also be considered beneficial because they eat beetle grubs, flies and other harmful pests. However, they are also known scavengers who eat meat, fish and sugary substances, making them a nuisance near trash receptacles and picnics.

Yellow Jackets vs. Bees

They are often mistaken for bees, although their bodies lack the same amount of hair, rounded abdomen, and the expanded hind leg used for carrying pollen of the bee. These social wasps live in colonies that may contain thousands of insects at a time.


Many yellow jackets are ground-nesters. Their colonies can be found under porches or steps, in sidewalk cracks, around railroad ties or at the base of trees. Sometimes the queen uses a wall void of a building as a nesting place. Some yellow jackets build aerial nests in bushes or low-hanging branches or in the corners of buildings and other manmade structures.


A colony may contain 1,000 or more workers by fall. All of the workers are sterile females. In late summer males will begin to appear. When they become adults, they will mate with the females that will become the next year’s queens.

The fertilized females will hibernate through the winter. The workers and the males will perish when the weather turns cold.


A queen yellow jacket starts a new nest by building a small paper nest in which she lays the first batch of eggs. After hatching, these eggs are fed by the queen until they are ready to pupate and mature into adult yellow jackets. Adults live through one season and feed on caterpillars, grubs and other insects. They also enjoy nectar and sweet substances such as fruit and tree sap. Yellow jackets are attracted to garbage and other human foods, particularly meats and sweets.

More Information

How Big Does a Yellow Jacket Nest Get?

Queen Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket Bees

Western Yellow Jacket Wasps

Yellow Jacket Life Cycle

Yellow Jacket Stings

Yellow Jacket Traps

How Orkin Treats For Yellow Jackets

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