Wasps or Yellow Jackets? Does it Matter?

Wasps or Yellow Jackets? Does it Matter?

If you’re wincing from the pain of being stung, it doesn’t matter if the sting came from a wasp or a yellow jacket. Both wasps and yellow jackets deliver a painful sting that causes swelling and itching in the immediate area. These two intimidating insects can bring a quick end to any outside activity. When it comes to treating or preventing nests in your yard, knowing key differences is important. Here are some tips for learning the difference and keeping your yard sting-free.

Wasps and yellow jackets both make their homes in and around yards and playgrounds across eastern Virginia. They also have nests that are home to thousands of stinging insects. By mid-July, most nests are fully formed and active.


Wasps have thin, segmented bodies, and their legs noticeably dangle while flying. Wasp nests look like an upside-down umbrella while being built and are usually found under eaves and decks or in trees and bushes. Once finished, they are usually the size of a football or basketball. Nests have one opening, and wasps can be seen working or buzzing around the entryway. Like yellow jacket nests, they can also house thousands of residents at a time.

In general, wasps are more docile than yellow jackets and tend not to bother you – if you don’t bother them. Like yellow jackets, however, they can also sting repeatedly and cause painful swelling, itching, and stinging.

Wasps feed on damaged fruit and flower nectar. Both wasps and yellow jackets also feed on other insects, which means they are good for the environment. If you aren’t bothered by a wasp nest and it is not close to people, then there is no need to remove it.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are most active during late summer. By now, there are no more developing larvae to feed, so workers are gathering food for themselves, which changes from proteins to sweets, so you are more likely to see them visiting your soda can or other sweet foods. Yellow jackets are more aggressive when gathering food and will sting at the slightest threat. Because their stingers are not barbed, they can sting repeatedly. Their nests are most often built in the ground and can stretch for several feet. You might not be aware of the nest unless you accidentally step on it or run over it with the lawnmower.

When looking for yellow jacket nests, watch for drones collecting nectar or food from flowers or a baited food source. Yellow jackets have black-and-yellow bodies and tuck their legs up when they fly and usually fly quickly in a straight line back to their nest. Other wasps or bees have a much more whimsical flight path. At the nest’s opening, you can see a series of yellow jackets flying in and out at regular intervals.

Prevention is Best

To discourage wasps and yellow jackets from building a nest in your home and yard, keep your yard from becoming a food source. Pick up unwanted fruit from the ground and make sure trash is covered. Keep any outside food covered – including pet food – and clean up any spills, especially if it’s a sweet drink. Also, place caps on soda and juice drinks to keep these sugar-seeking insects from getting in. Keeping trees and bushes neatly trimmed also reduces the risk that these foreboding insects will build a nest.

Removing a wasp or yellow jacket nest can be dangerous. Nests in hard-to-reach places can be difficult to remove without putting yourself at risk of getting stung or suffering a horrible accident. Our trained technicians can safely remove nests from your yard and home and help you stay accident and sting-free. Call for a free quote today.

Eco Pest Control is rated 5/5 from 1,664 reviews & testimonials.