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Nothing ruins family fun in the backyard faster than seeing a pesky yellow jacket flying around. These pests are known for being aggressive and delivering painful stings. We generally get a lot of calls about yellow jackets throughout the summer months and into early fall here in the Fox Cities. We wanted to provide some helpful insights into these flying nuisances and what you can expect if you spot yellow jackets in your backyard. Click below for the answers to some of your most pressing questions!

How do yellow jackets differ from bees?

While they are kind of hard to tell apart from a distance, yellow jackets are technically wasps. They differ from honey bees in numerous ways, including:

  • They are predatory and consume other insects and food, as well as nectar and sap. 
  • Their predatory nature makes them much more aggressive. 
  • They are scavengers and can be found around your patio and other areas with food and garbage in your yard. 
  • They have lance-like stingers with small barbs where bees have larger barbs. 

What do yellow jackets look like?

You can also tell the difference between yellow jackets and honey bees by how they look. While they have yellow and black stripes, similar to honey bees, they have narrower bodies and are not as fuzzy-looking. 

Where do yellow jackets live?

Yellow jackets can be found almost anywhere humans are, as that keeps them close to food sources. They generally build their nests and hide in a variety of places, including:

  • Underground (use caution when mowing and walking around your backyard)
  • Logs and tree stumps and branches, mulch piles
  • Inside garbage and recycling bins
  • Between the walls and under the eaves of your house, garage, or shed. 

Are yellow jackets pollinators?

Yes. However, they tend not to visit flowers too often and they aren’t fuzzy, which makes them less effective as pollinators. However, because they eat insects, yellow jackets are useful at keeping other pests under control in your yard and garden. 

What are yellow jackets attracted to?

Good question! There are lots of things that may be attracting yellow jackets to your home, shed, or backyard, including:

  • Holes, eaves on your home or shed, and other dark, cave-like areas that are prime nesting spots. 
  • Sweet-smelling substances, such as juice or soda spilled outside. 
  • Other foods and garbage left outside during/after a cookout. 
  • Trash cans — especially since they attract spiders and flies that yellow jackets like to eat. 
  • Gardens, particularly vegetable gardens, due to the other insects that like to munch on the plants. 

Why are yellow jackets so aggressive?

Yellow jackets are known for being able to sting multiple times. They’re social creatures, so they’re likely to get aggressive if you find yourself anywhere near their nest. Because they often build nests underground and other unexpected locations, they’re easy to disturb without even meaning to! They generally swarm together and won’t take any chances that you’ll destroy their nest, which makes them dangerous and aggressive for homeowners.  

When are yellow jackets most active?

We get a lot of calls about yellow jackets here in the Fox Cities around the late summer (middle of July to mid-September), after the wasps have had time to build up their nests. They are least active when it’s dark, so early morning or evening are the best times to handle your landscaping and other outdoor activities if you have a yellow jacket problem. 

How do I get rid of yellow jackets?

If you spot yellow jackets around your home or lawn or see a nest, you may have a yellow jacket infestation. Yellow jacket stings hurt and have been known to cause severe allergic reactions, so don’t wait to address the problem. 

Because they’re aggressive and it can be difficult to get close enough for at-home sprays and treatments to be effective without risk of agitating the hive, we recommend working with a pest control specialist (like K&C Pest Control) to deal with your yellow jacket or wasp problem. Professional treatments are generally more effective at eliminating the nest than DIY or at-home methods. We offer yellow jacket removal throughout the Fox Cities, including Oshkosh, Appleton, and Neenah. 

If you’re dealing with wasps or other pests in your Fox Cities home or backyard, K&C Pest Control is here to help. Contact us or call 920-582-9000.