Yellow jackets can build nests in a variety of environments. They can be found in rural, suburban, and urban areas but prefer to live in areas with a wooded edge. Yellow jackets like to live in meadows and grasslands as well.
Eastern and southern yellow jackets build nests underground in leaf litter, beds of pine straw, or in old logs. These nests are typically well hidden. Other yellow jackets such as the German yellow jacket will build aerial nests. While they prefer to build aerial nests in natural structures, it is not uncommon to find nests in man-made structures as well.
Yellow jackets make their nests out of pulp from wood fibers, plant stems, and paper. To make pulp, yellow jackets chew up these materials. When the materials mix with their saliva, they are able to make pulp. Typically in late spring, queen yellow jackets will start building nests using the pulp they can produce. Once the nest is formed, she will lay her first eggs that will grow to be workers. This process will continue until the queens and colonies die off in the fall.
Yellow jackets are active during the summer. They feed on a variety of insects and human food as well. Yellow jackets are attracted to meat and sweets. If you have ever prepared or eaten food outside during the warm months of summer, you have probably dealt with yellow jackets buzzing around your meal.
Aggressive by nature, you should always exercise caution when mowing the lawn or using trimmers. If you stumble upon a yellow jacket nest or swarming yellow jackets, it is best to leave the area of the nest site as quickly as possible so you do not get stung.
Symptoms of a yellow jacket sting include pain, swelling and tenderness at the site of the sting as well as warmth around the sting site. Unless you are allergic, you can treat a yellow jacket sting on your own at home. If you get stung by a yellow jacket, you should wash the site with soap and water. You can also apply a paste made out of baking soda and water to counteract the venom. To decrease swelling and ease pain, you can apply an ice pack to the sting site and take an antihistamine.
The severity of the reaction varies from person to person with the most serious being anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock requires immediate medical treatment. If you have a history of wasp allergies or experience any symptoms such as swelling of the face and throat, dizziness, hives in areas of the body not affected by the sting, or difficulty breathing, you should call 911.
The main attraction for yellow jackets is food. If you are having a barbecue or some other type of party that involves food outside, yellow jackets can be uninvited guests. Yellow jackets are attracted to the smell of sweets and meats. In order to combat this, you should keep food covered up when it is not being eaten and dispose of trash in a garbage can with a tight, secure lid. Furthermore, swatting at yellow jackets will only make them more likely to sting. If one lands on you or your food, remain calm and don’t make any sudden movements.
Once you see a few yellow jackets, you should call an Aptive professional rather than looking for the nest, or nests, yourself. Aptive’s dedicated team use the best, eco-friendly methods to effectively remove yellow jackets and ensure that your home is protected for the future.