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Get Yellow Jackets Out Of and Away From Your Home

ProGuard Fast Facts:  Western Yellow Jacket

  • Scientific Name: Vespula Pensylvanica
  • Yellow with black markings, approximately ½” long.
  • Often confused for honeybees, yellow jackets are quicker, smaller and have a brighter yellow color compared to bees. Yellow jackets also fly in jerky, side-to-side prior to landing.
  • They are predatory scavengers that will eat meat and sweets.

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     Yellow jacket wasps can strike fear in young and old, big or small. Their sting is legendary – so much so that once you’ve been stung once, you know to avoid these fierce insects. It can be quite a nuisance then to have yellow jackets around your home, ruining a backyard gathering or potentially endangering your family or guests. Read on to learn more about yellow jackets in Kirkland and surrounding area, what a yellow jacket nest or wasp nest looks like, and what options you have if you think you a yellow jacket infestation.

Yellow Jacket Wasp Infestation

     You may first notice a few yellow jacket wasps flying around your picnic food, nearby trash cans or even you! These wasps love sugary drinks like soda and juice. They will crawl right into your soda and beer cans, so be careful before you take a sip. Yellow jackets are also attracted to clothing with bright floral patterns, flowery perfume and hairspray. If we can resist the immediate reaction to try to swat the wasp away, the encounter is usually brief and without incident. But when you see large numbers of these wasps coming in and out of a particular area of your house, or see a round paper nest on or near your house, you know you have a more serious problem. That’s when you should call ProGuard Pest Protection at 425-445-8020

     Yellow jackets are predatory wasps that are found throughout the United States. Generally speaking, wasps are considered to be of natural benefit to the environment. They are a form of natural, organic pest control for gardens, farms and orchards. In fact there has been recent news about the USDA releasing a certain species of wasp to protect the ash tree population nationwide from the emerald ash borer beetle.

     Here in the Greater Seattle area there are 3 primary species that we see as a nuisance pest, ruining picnics and scaring children and adults alike: vespula pensylvanica (western yellow jacket), v. germanica (German wasp), and v. vulgaris (common yellow jacket). Paper wasps are also a common sight and can be quite a nuisance, as well as bald-faced hornets. Ready to get yellow jacket service? Call Now 425-445-8020

Yellow Jacket Life Cycle:

     These fearsome flyers have 4 stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The newly fertilized queen will overwinter alone – usually in an attic, crawlspace, wood pile or some other protected area. In springtime (late March/early April) she will emerge and seek a location suitable to begin constructing a paper nest as home to a new colony of yellow jackets. In some cases the nest can be constructed underground using an abandoned rat tunnel, a hole at the base of rockery, or under a log or brush pile.

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     The queen will then lay eggs and feed the larva as they hatch, who are the first workers – all of which are infertile female wasps. The workers soon take over the task of feeding other larva and the colony population continues to grow as the queen now focuses solely on producing eggs to create more wasps. Some adults will be harvesters, seeking out food sources to feed larva, the queen and the colony. Others will guard the nest and protect the nest from perceived threats.

     This process produces dramatic growth in colony size; by the end of summer the colony can number over 5,000 yellow jackets! With the cooling temperatures in fall the impregnated queens will seek out overwintering locations, alone, to repeat the cycle in the coming spring. This time of year can produce more aggressive yellow jackets so extra care should be taken if you are attempting to treat a nest yourself.


The Nest:

     In some cases it’s easy to see the nest hanging from a tree branch or a fence but in other cases the nest is hidden from regular view in an attic.When built above ground we can see the nest start out as a small stem, and then proceeds in radiating patterns of horizontal 6-sided cells, called a “comb”, to be about the size of a golf ball. Multiple tiers, or combs, will be built, and layers of mulched paper and bark combined with saliva will create the outer wall. Full sized nests can be the size of a basketball and in extreme cases even larger. There have been pictures circulating on the internet of a colony that completely filled a shed. Another popular picture shows a nest having taken over an unused bedroom, and yet another shows a massive colony of wasps taking up the entire interior of an abandoned car. 

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     The giveaway for any hidden nest is what is known as a “flight pattern” – a repeated pathway that is taken by wasps entering and exiting the nest. When treating a home for yellow jackets, the pest experts at ProGuard Pest Protection have to first locate the nest, and this is the indicator that they look for. It’s not uncommon for yellow jackets to also take up residence in a wall void, having gained entrance through a small hole in the siding of a home.

     Wasps are subgrouped as either “social” or “asocial” (or solitary) species. Social wasps include the yellow jacket, hornets, and paper wasps. These wasps have a colony structure with workers, guards and a queen, similar to ants and honey bees. Solitary, or asocial, wasps include the group known in general as “mud wasps”: the mud dauber, the potter wasp, and the pollen wasp. These wasps do not build a colony structure but instead have smaller nests and have no division of labor into queens, workers or drones.

Benefits of Professional Yellow Jacket Wasp Pest Control

     ProGuard Pest Protection has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address a yellow jacket wasp problem. For example, we know that adult yellow jacket wasps prefer meat, sugar, and carbohydrate-rich food such as fruit and nectar. Finding and treating the yellow jacket wasp nest can be challenging, especially if the main nest is hidden somewhere outside. Additionally, our training allows us to distinguish the difference between the various yellow jacket wasp species based on their markings and other small details. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest and determine the best possible solution to resolve the yellow jacket wasp infestation.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between yellow jacket wasps and bees?

     Yellow jackets have more slender bodies and legs then bees. Yellow jackets also appear more smooth and shiny, and when in flight can be seen to have long legs hanging down. Bees look almost fuzzy with broader bodies, thicker legs and a slower flight.

What is the difference between yellow jacket wasps and hornets?

Hornets look similar to yellow jackets, but are about twice as long and thicker and typically build nests above ground. Read more about bald-faced hornets here.

Can I get rid of yellow jackets on my own?

     There are several sprays and aerosols available at gardening stores and online with varying degrees of effectiveness. Due to the aggressive, protective nature of yellow jackets, anyone with an allergy should not attempt this form of pest control themselves. Even pest professionals take care when exterminating yellow jackets: protective gear includes a full head encasement, long gloves and a bee suit to protect from stings. Unlike honey bees, yellow jackets and wasps do not have a barb on their stinger, so they can repeatedly sting their prey or victim without dying. Additionally, wasps can release a chemical alarm signaling other wasps to that location, so an abundance of caution should be taken if attempting any home treatments.

How do you get rid of yellow jacket wasps?

     The key to successfully getting rid of yellow jacket wasps is to first find the nests. This includes a comprehensive inspection of your home and property to identify favorable conditions for wasps as well as entry points to the nesting sites. ProGuard will also do an exterior treatment of the home to help prevent future nesting.

     Treatment can include an aerosol, foam, insecticide or dust application – or a combination of these. Typically, the nest is not removed in order to give the insecticide time to work with harvesters that will return to the nest in the evening.

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