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(John Obermeyer, Purdue University)
Common Name: Yellowjacket

Order: Hymenoptera

Family: Vespidae

Pest Status: Yellowjackets are beneficial insects when they're far from people. However, because they aggressively defend their nests by stinging, they can become life threatening pests.

Appearance: Yellowjackets are smaller than their close relatives (hornets and paper wasps), but they occur in larger colonies, sometimes with 1,000s of workers. They are usually yellow and have black dots and stripes across their abdomens.

Life Cycle: A new queen leaves the nest during the fall, mates, and passes the winter under leaf litter or the bark of trees. In the spring, the queen starts a new colony by building a gray paper nest, usually underground or in a wall void or other cavity. Newly developed workers soon take over the foraging and defense of the colony.

Where to Collect: Yellowjackets are quite common in the late summer and fall when they forage widely for sugars and proteins. They should be collected very carefully to avoid being stung.