Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown with yellow markings and bands

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 colony populations peak
  • Only queen yellowjackets live through the winter to start new colonies in the spring

Yellowjackets in SE Louisiana and Mississippi

Yellowjackets are likely the most known social wasp species. Found throughout the United States, yellowjackets, along with European hornets, are the most infamous structure-infesting wasps. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans, were it not for their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics, and cavities associated with landscaping features. Adult yellowjackets feed mainly on fruit juices and other sweet liquid materials, whereas their larvae are fed bits of soft-bodied insects like caterpillars and flies. A telling characteristic of the yellowjacket is their slightly erratic side-to-side flight pattern when they land

Yellowjacket Nests

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, crawlspace, 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. Nests can reach the size of a basketball by the end of the season, usually in the fall.

Yellowjacket Habits & Dangers

Yellowjackets are known to be more aggressive, especially later in the season, or when it comes to defending their nests. They tend to hover near residential areas in the late summer and are infamous for disrupting outdoor picnics and backyards in their hunt for food. Yellowjacket stings pose a more serious threat to humans than bees, because a yellowjackets stinger is not barbed like a honey bee, allowing it to sting repeatedly. Some individuals are more sensitive than others, due to allergic reactions, and should seek medical attention when stung.

Sometimes yellowjackets living in wall voids chew their way through the drywall and enter the structure’s living space. If you notice yellowjacket activity in your property, always contact your local wasp control experts.