Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown, usually with yellow markings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Paper carton nests made up of chewed cellulose found in the ground, eaves, or attics


  • Social insects that live in colonies with up to 4,000 workers
  • Most active and aggressive in late summer when populations peak
  • Can be attracted to sugary substances and even fragrant perfumes

Yellowjackets in Vermont

Yellowjackets are relatively short and stout compared with other wasps. They are either yellow and black, or white and black, and are aggressive. Late summer is the time when yellowjackets create the greatest problems for residents in the state of Vermont. The colonies have increased and the population may be outstripping the natural food supplies. As a result, these wasps are particularly attracted to fruits, sweets, and decaying matter. They can be found around garbage cans, overripe fruit on or around fruit trees, and most annoyingly at your outdoor meal. Bright clothing and perfumes also can attract late-season yellowjackets.

Yellowjacket Nests or Hives

Yellowjackets can be divided into ground nesters, which frequently use old rodent burrows, and aerial nesters. Above ground nests are found among the leafy branches of trees and shrubs and also on structures. Occasionally, the nest may be constructed on the side of a building, in wall voids, under eaves, crawlspaces and attics. The entrance of the nest is normally a hole located at the bottom. These aerial nesters don’t become scavengers in the fall, but they are extremely defensive when their nests are disturbed. It’s important to keep an eye out for nests, especially in the fall months. If you do notice a nest nearby, always avoid it at all costs. Even seemingly vacant nests can contain the stinging insects.

Yellowjacket Habits & Stings

Yellowjackets don’t always sting, but they can be aggressive when it comes to defending their nest. In addition, they become more prone to bothering people in the late summer and fall months as colonies outgrow their hives and resources begin to dwindle. The big threat with yellowjackets is the fact that they can sting repeatedly. Some individuals are more sensitive than others, due to allergic reactions, and should seek medical attention when stung.

Whether you’re dealing with excess yellowjackets in your yard or noticed a nest forming, always contact your local wasp control experts for help.