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Stings from Yellow Jackets: Identifying Yellow Jacket Nest and Getting Rid of Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets can be a troublesome sight whenever you spot one near your home. Although they feed on some pests, such as flies and caterpillars, they also forage some of the food we enjoy. This behavior puts these predatory social wasps in frequent conflict with people, especially during the late summer when their population starts to peak.

They don’t generally go out of their nests to sting people, but they quickly go out and aggressively defend their colony whenever it’s disturbed. People also frequently confuse yellow jacket wasps with other types of insects, such as hornets and paper wasps, which have their own behaviors, further complicating the issue.

Dealing with yellow jacket wasps can be challenging if you don’t know how they behave. It’s essential to understand how to distinguish them from other similar insects to ensure you apply the best method to get rid of them once you locate their nest. 

What Do Yellow Jackets Look Like?

Your typical yellow jacket worker is about half an inch long and has alternating yellow and black bands on its abdomen, but some can have white or red markings. Every species has some white or yellow on its faces. They have elongated wings as long as their bodies laterally fold.

It’s common to confuse a yellow jacket wasp with honey bees given their similarities in size and color, but as previously mentioned, they are wasps. Yellow jackets, unlike bees, don’t have dense brown hair over their bodies and don’t carry pollen on their hind legs. 

They can also repeatedly sting with a smooth stinger, compared to the honey bee’s barbed stinger that can only sting once. The venom is mainly dangerous to people who are stung many times or to those who are allergic to it.

Yellow Jacket Nest Location

Finding and eliminating the yellow jackets’ nests is easier said than done. Their nests can be in various locations, including dense bushes, buried beneath the ground with a small entrance hole, inside structures, and some hang from trees or eaves. They also often take advantage of any material on the ground with an opening to build a nest. 

The German yellow jacket, located around temperate areas, likes to place its nests inside structures, crawlspaces, wall voids, and along the cracks and crevices on the building’s exterior. This species is highly aggressive, and unlike other species, its nests may survive through winter. When that happens, the nest can significantly grow in size.

Common yellow jackets can construct their nests above ground and below ground. The eastern yellow jackets usually make ground nests, but they can also have aerial ones on some occasions. However, species that commonly build aerial nests don’t tend to be as aggressive as others. Sometimes yellow jacket wasps can also create their nest inside abandoned rodent burrows. 

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

There are a couple of methods you can use to get rid of yellow jackets, but some of them depend on the nest’s location. The general guideline is to locate the nest during the day. This way, you can see the workers going in and out, letting you figure out the nest’s entrances. 

Once you identify the entry points, you can treat the nest at night, when most of the yellow jacket wasps are inside the nest. It also reduces the chances of being stung, as they don’t see well in the night. Then, you apply the most appropriate treatment depending on its location.

It would be best to use a quick freeze wasp and hornet spray to seal the opening if you’re dealing with an aerial nest. Some even let you spray from up to 15 feet away, allowing you to treat it without a ladder.

You can use any labeled insecticide dust or any quick knockdown wasp and hornet spray for ground nests. Occasionally, the nest is too deep, which enables some yellow jacket wasps to survive. If you want to ensure you deal with most of them at once, you can use both products. Apply the spray into the entrance hole and follow up with wasp insecticide.

Nests inside structures can be considerably harder to treat depending on the place the wasps laid their nest. There are times when the entrance hole you find isn’t the nest’s entry point, but it can be nearby if you’re lucky. Placing your ear against the wall and listening for activity can be an efficient way to find the nest. 

 If you can’t find its exact position, use a quick freeze wasp spray to get rid of any yellow jacket wasp near the entrance. Then you use insecticide dust, as its residuals can eventually reach the nest through the workers. However, if you know exactly where it is, drill a hole into the wall or ceiling at the nest’s location, apply the spray or dust directly, and seal the hole.

Trapping Yellow Jackets

There are some non-toxic bait traps you can use to get rid of yellow jackets. These attract the wasps with their odor, trapping them in jars, sticky surfaces, or drowning them. Some traps only attract specific yellow jacket species, so be sure you get an appropriate one. 

You should place the trap as far from the common areas as possible, near the areas of the nest. Once they die, you can remove them from it and replace the bait if it uses some.

Homemade Traps

A homemade trap uses a hanging piece of raw fish or liver placed one or two inches above a water and dish soap container.  The dish soap eliminates surface tension and causes yellow jacked wasps to sink. It attracts them with the raw meat, making them fall due to the food’s weight and drown.


Depending on the species, yellow jacket wasps can place their nests in several troublesome locations and have varying aggressiveness levels. If you know how to identify them and locate their nests, you may effectively deal with them. However, if the nest is in a dangerous spot and it’s hard to reach, it would be best to seek a yellow jacket professional to help you with the process.

 If you’re looking for the right team to handle the issue for you, Synergy² is here to help. We provide trusted services throughout the area, so contact us for the best pest control services around.

Feel free to read more about us and decide if Synergy² is the right company for you.  We have over 270 Five-Star Google reviews for pest control service in the Jackson metro area (Jackson/Madison/Brandon/Ridgeland). Check out our newest location reviews for pest control service in Jackson, MS here at Synergy² Jackson Pest Control!

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