A Q&A on Eastern Yellow Jackets

Ah, the sun is out, the air is warm and you’re gearing up for a summer BBQ. Everything’s perfect—Until you stumble upon a swarm of yellow jackets. More specifically, you’ve probably found your little slice of heaven is infested with Maryland’s most common yellow jacket; the Eastern yellow jacket, or Vespula Maculifrons.

Where do nests come from?

Usually yellow jackets hide out underground, in voided areas like sheds and old cars through the winter and then when spring comes, they start new colonies in shrubbery and vegetation. The workers bring the colonies protein and meat, such as caterpillars and beetles (which works out well for those who garden).

Where should I look for yellow jackets?

Be careful when exploring outdoor trashcans, fruit trees and outdoor eateries. Sugary drinks, snacks and open containers attract yellow jackets. When picnicking, set up shop away from disposals and other areas with lots of wading trash. However, if you encounter a yellow jacket, gently brush it off instead of swatting or flailing. These actions can cause the yellow jacket to act even more aggressively.

What happens when yellow jackets attack?

It may be inevitable if you walk through a nest in a lawn or bush, so here’s what really happens. Yellow jackets carry a special chemical signal called alarm pheromone and when one attacks, it releases this, telling other yellow jackets to sting. Although one yellow jacket can sting multiple times, it often loses it life during battle.

What should I do if I get stung?

First, some people are VERY allergic to yellow jacket stings. You may break out into hives and the most allergic people can even go into anaphylactic shock within 5 minutes. Those that believe they are highly allergic should seek professional medical care immediately. However, that is rare. In more standard cases, a cold compress and an over-the-counter antihistamine will reduce the swelling and help with pain.

What do I do about a yellow jacket nest?

If a yellow jacket nest is unlikely to be a problem to humans or pests, your best bet is to watch it, but don’t do anything. But, if you have a threatening nest where your family, friends, or Fido plays, consider having it exterminated sooner rather than later. Eco Care Pest Management can safely and effectively eliminate yellow jacket nests. You can also try sprays, however there is a risk of getting stung and not completely controlling the problem.

CTA Pest PreventionDo you believe you have a yellow jacket nest?

If you believe you have a yellow jacket nest, call us for a free consultation. Or if you need help with pest identification, Ask Erich, our board certified entomologist. He’ll quickly identify your pest and find a solution for your problem—you can quickly and easily submit a question through our website.