About Yellowjacket Wasps

YellowJacket Wasp

Not all black-and-yellow winged species you notice outside is a honeybee. The species you spotted could also be yellowjackets. Insects that pollinate and stay in nests of hundreds, resembling bees, are nearly identical to yellowjackets.

While yellowjackets are dangerous to people and can even kill them, they are excellent to have around plants because they eat many garden parasites. These bees could end up a problem for people in the mid-summertime when their mature populations reach thousands in order to be ready for the cold season. Yellowjackets have four phases in their entire lifecycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Yellowjacket Wasps


The yellowjacket adult has contrasting yellow and black stripes on the thorax and is around 12 inches long. Due to their identical appearance and the possibility that they’d be drawn to the exact feeding items, hunting yellowjackets are sometimes confused with honey bees. Honey bees are somewhat bigger than yellowjackets and have feathers called setae on their bodies, which yellowjackets lack. Pollen receptacles on the hind limbs of hunting honey bees, which are frequently packed with a lump of yellow or greenish dust, could be used to identify them. The yellowjacket possesses a sleek stinger that may strike several times. Honey bees employ a hooked stinger that could only be employed once.

The Life Cycle


Yellowjackets are sociable wasps with a system of the workforce, physically evolved queens (including females), as well as males. The primary colony members who sleep throughout the cold season are recently fertilized females. Yellowjacket populations in South Carolina start in April or May, whenever the hibernated female arises. The female yellowjackets return from sleep in the spring season and start to look for an appropriate location to construct a nesting and start a fresh population.

READ MORE:  Bee Life Cycle

Nests are generally made in barns, rooftops, lumber stacks, concrete surfaces, or old rat homes. The nesting is made of mucous, bitten timber, or plant fiber. The colonies grow quickly, and therefore by August, they might have multiple thousand members. These recently created colonies often have up to 45 units that serve as egg chambers. The queen guards her embryos till the larvae develop. Though its queen may survive for up to a year, the laborers only have 10 to 22 days to endure.

Larva and Pupa

When the eggs develop, the yellowjackets become larvae. Yellowjackets, which resemble pests, have been using this phase to gather nourishment while they start developing legs and feathers. The queen devotes her entire life to supplying foraged seafood, protein, and other bugs to the larval stage until they start growing. They remain in this dormant phase for around 3 weeks post pupating, or acquiring mature traits in protected pupal covers, till they burst from their pupation covers as grownups.


The initial grownups to hatch from their pupation capsules are spayed female yellowjackets. As the mother keeps producing eggs throughout the summertime, other females accept the duty of nourishing the larval and the mother. As additional eggs grow and reach adulthood, they take on new responsibilities as mature laborers in the nest.

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Mature yellowjackets serve responsibilities like seeking nutrition, nursing the queen, and guarding the nest when the queen prepares to develop offspring. Throughout the optimum growth phase, the colony generates genetic material, which results in the production of queen bees and males. These will ultimately abandon the colony to fly to mate. Male insects start mating with females and eventually die afterward, whereas future queens sleep.

Fertilized queens hit the surface and look for a safe location to survive the cold weather, like a grass pile, a dead tree, or a wall. With the beginning of winter weather, the mother population starts to quickly decrease in the autumn, and the initial queens and larvae perish. When communities start dying in the autumn, raccoons and foxes burrow into the buried eggs and snack on the newborn yellowjackets. In humid places, above-ground colonies may survive, although they are never reused in future reproduction. In August 1991, a massive southern yellowjacket population was found in Charleston County. It produced an average of 250,000 members. It was suspected that the colony had been inhabited for more than a year.


Mature yellowjackets consume sugary and carbohydrate-rich meals like flower nectar and berries. They also look for high-protein meals like bugs and seafood. These are crushed and prepared before being fed to the larvae. The parents ingest a sweet compound secreted by the larval. Trophallaxis is the term used to describe the sharing of nutrition between parents and larval. Regular foodstuffs are in limited supply throughout the mid-summer and autumn. Yellowjackets search for other protein sources, resulting in severe encounters with humankind.

READ MORE:  About Honey Bees

They are drawn to carbonated drinks, fluids, sweets, different meats, desserts, fruits, veggies, and snack foods. These species often consume other tiny flying bugs and parasites, such as black hornets. Mature yellowjackets are drawn to sweet foods like plant nectar, and, on rare occasions, soft drinks if they stumble upon an unsealed can! Insects such as maggots, larvae, and snails are also eaten by them. They are said to preserve nourishment in their colonies during the cold season in a similar way as hornets do.

How fast can a yellowjacket wasp fly?

A yellowjacket would travel at speeds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h), and thus no person can beat it. Whenever yellowjackets get into contact with people, they could become violent. When a yellowjacket is startled, it could become so violent that it stings 4 to 5 times. A yellowjacket creature strike is painful, thus you need to be cautious while handling these bugs to prevent being stung, and you should not destroy their colonies.

Yellowjackets are extremely hazardous since they can become violent at any moment. They strike in clusters, similar to hornets, and their bites are much more powerful than wasp stings. After being stung by a yellowjacket, someone might have an adverse reaction, and the bite may induce respiratory issues that could be fatal.

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