Yellow Jacket Wasps
Yellow jackets are aggressive, sting repeatedly, and should be treated by a professional.


Yellow jacket wasps are found throughout Warwick, as well as most of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Several species of wasps exist in our area, with the most common being that of the European yellow jacket.  Additionally,  the German yellow jacket and the southern yellow jacket are sometimes encountered.

Yellow jackets are notoriously aggressive regardless of species. This means that professional yellow jacket wasp control should be considered when dealing with a wasp issue.


Yellow jackets are frequently mistaken for bees, but they are distinguishable for being thinner and less hairy. As members of the wasp family, yellow jackets have six legs and a pair of antennae. Workers are generally 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch long while queens are approximately 3/4 of an inch. The yellow jacket's wings are translucent, and they typically display yellow and black colorations.

The German yellow jacket is distinctive from other species thanks to a black mark shaped like a spade on the first abdominal segment. They also display black spots on the sides of their bodies. Eastern yellow jackets tend to be smaller and have black and yellow lines on the abdomen, thorax and head. The common and southern yellow jackets are similar in appearance to the eastern species.


Yellow jackets are predators that consume other insects. However, they also are known to be voracious scavengers of human food. This is why they are frequently seen at picnics, barbecues and around trash cans. Meat and fish are favorite human foods of the yellow jacket, but they also feed on fruit, juices and processed foods.


Yellow jacket species are difficult to differentiate based on physical characteristics. Usually, it is the size of their nests that provide the clues that make species identification possible. The species found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey generally build subterranean nests in the wild. These are found in soil cavities or tree stumps. However, yellow jackets are known to build nests in manmade structures as well. They may be found in wall voids, soffits, attics, under the eaves of houses and in picnic shelters.

Yellow jacket nests are constructed from chewed wood fibers that look like paper after being processed by the insect's large mandibles. In the spring, the queen builds a nest with just a few chambers for containing her young. The workers emerge, then begin adding to the nest and foraging for food, much of which is brought back to the nest to nourish young. A large nest may house multiple thousands of yellow jackets.


Yellow jackets are extremely aggressive and will sting with little provocation. Stings are most likely to happen when food is near or when a human comes too close to the insect's nest. Unlike bees, yellow jackets are able to sting multiple times. The sting is painful and involves the injection of venom. In general, the venom is not dangerous to humans. However, people who are allergic to the sting may be subject to serious health risks. Yellow jackets have also bitten people with their strong mandibles.


Yellow jackets are helpful pollinators, but their scavenging behaviors also label them as nuisances. Many stings happen around food or when people swat at yellow jackets to try to keep them away. The insects aggressively defend their nests, especially in the late summer and early fall when nests are reaching peak populations and food tends to be scarcer. 


The yellow jacket sting is potentially life-threatening to people who are allergic to the insect's venom. Someone who is not allergic may experience slight swelling and a sensation of warmth in the area surrounding the sting. Occasionally, a few days of fatigue or nausea accompany the sting.

A smaller number of people will experience an allergic reaction that affects the entire body. They may develop widespread hives and the cartilage at the base of the tongue known as the epiglottis may swell. Concurrently, the bronchial passages get narrower. The swelling of the epiglottis and the bronchial passages may block the airway, triggering anaphylaxis. When hives and breathing problems ensue, medical attention is vital.

People who are stung multiple times by yellow jackets may experience a toxic reaction that includes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, diarrhea and fainting. Victims of multiple yellow jacket stings would be well advised to seek medical treatment.


Warwick are homes and businesses may need professional yellow jacket wasp control in when these signs are present:

Black and yellow insects congregating at picnics and barbecues
Nests found in or near buildings


To help prevent against a yellow jacket infestation, follow these tips:

• Do not leave food sitting outdoors
• Take remains of pet food indoors
• Sugary foods like sodas and desserts should only be enjoyed indoors
• Make certain that garbage cans are tightly covered
• Seal cracks and holes in structures
• Secure siding to buildings
• Regularly inspect awnings for nest construction
• Refrain from swatting at and killing a yellow jacket, as this may release a pheromone that will attract more yellow jackets



Wasps can be aggressive and have the ability to sting multiple times. Wasp infestations are best handled by pest control professionals. Treatment methods vary depending upon the type and location of the wasps.

At SafeGuard, our pest control technicians have extensive training enabling them to accurately identify wasp species and employ the proper treatment to safely and effectively eliminate the problem for any Warwick home or office.

SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC.
A Division Of Newtown Termite & Pest Control, Inc.
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