Yellowjacket Wasps Are Making Their Presence Known

Yellowjacket wasps are the size and shape of honey bees (about 1/2 inch long). Because of the similarity in size and in behavior they are commonly called "bees" by people calling to ask about how to eliminate them from the foundation of the house, the retaining wall or from a hole in the ground. One difference is that yellowjackets are shiny black with bright yellow markings and honey bees are golden brown and fuzzy.

Yellowjackets are ecologically beneficial (they eat other insects) and if the nest is in an out of the way location where it is not likely to be disturbed it is best left alone. If, however, a nest is located in a "high traffic" area such as along walks or near doorways, control is justified to reduce the threat of being stung. Nests in walls or in the ground can be destroyed by placing an insecticide dust (e.g., Boric acid, Sevin or permethrin) in the nest entrance during the night. Wear protective clothing and approach the nest with caution. Do not shine your flashlight directly into the nest opening. Dusts are preferred to sprays that will soak into the soil. Dusts will remain on the tunnel surface to be picked up by passing wasps.

Yellowjacket wasp.  Photo by Laura Jesse, ISU ExtensionYellowjacket wasp. Photo by Laura Jesse, ISU Extension

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