With the warm weather we saw a lot of insects making their presence known once again. One of these insects is the yellowjacket, a much dreaded pest. As soon as it starts to show up, homeowners start laying traps and buying sprays against these insects.

The yellowjacket is part of the wasp family, being closely related to the paper wasp. It prefers to feed on meat, and you will often notice it when you have a nice summer barbecue party in your backyard. In fact, its diet has earned it the nickname of meat bee in certain parts of the country.

Yellowjackets are by far the most troublesome stinging pest that you are likely to encounter during the summer. They are much more defensive than their cousins, and if you ever come near a yellowjacket nest, you are very likely to get stung. On top of that, their defensive behavior intensifies as the season progresses and the size of their colonies gets bigger.

You will start to notice yellowjackets in summer and fall. They are scavenging insects, buzzing around leftover food, barbecues, picnics, garbage cans, overripe fruit and even pet food bowls. When the colonies are large enough, and the food sources scarce enough, the number of yellowjackets in any given area can be quite large.

Yellowjacket colonies are started by a single queen, which wakes up from winter hibernation looking for a nest site. Once a suitable site is located, the queen will form a small nest, and it will be its main caretaker, foraging for food and construction materials. As it lays eggs and new members join the colony, the queen switches from an active role to a purely reproductive role. The end of a colony’s life cycle begins in late August, when the queen starts to give birth to fertile male and female yellowjackets which mate, with the males dying off shortly after, and the fertilized females going into hibernation.

Given the defensiveness of the yellowjackets and their willingness to sting, having them on your property is bad news. Either someone gets stung and they experience pain, soreness and swelling, or they get stung and have an allergic reaction which can land them in the hospital. Taking care of this pest species is important if you want to have a tranquil summer outdoors. Contact us today if you have a yellowjacket nest on your property and you want to get rid of it.