Come late summer, yellow jackets become a bigger problem than they have been the whole season. It might be surprising to know that yellow jackets are carnivores. They feed off other garden insects and pests like caterpillars. As the summer ends, their food supply shrinks and they begin searching for food outside of their usual diet. This is when youâ€™ll find them interrupting your picnic or buzzing around your garbage cans.
While a nuisance, this behavior can be dangerous for families. Late summer is when yellow jacket populations are at their highest. Take notice if you see a few wasps flying around your trash cans or backyard. There is a good chance that hundreds, or even thousands of yellow jackets are nesting near your home. Unlike bees, yellow jacket nests are not always easy to find. Many wasp hives are underground in holes burrowed by squirrels, chipmunks, and other animals or in the cracks of building and trees. These nests are not only difficult to spot, but also difficult to remove.
To makes matters worse, yellow jackets are known as aggressive and fierce defenders of their nest. Vibrations from a lawn mower can be enough to trigger an attack. Once an attack begins yellow jacket wasps can sting someone several times. Unlike bees, yellow jackets do not lose their stinger during an attack.
Know what yellow jackets look like.
Yellow jacket wasps are black and yellow, with alternating stripes along their abdomen, and are often mistaken as honey bees. But unlike bees, yellow jackets lack the â€œfuzzyâ€ body or hairy hind legs that honey bees have. Yellow jackets are about a half inch long, with distinctive markings and a flight pattern that a professional will be able to spot with ease.