What Are Some Facts About Yellow Jackets?


Quick Answer

Most yellow jackets are yellow and black, but some are also white and black. Yellow jackets are beneficial because they pollinate plants and eat pests. However, they are aggressive when defending their nests.

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Full Answer

Yellow jackets derive their name from the black-and-yellow coloring of their bodies. Their waists are slimmer and more tailored than those of bees. They have less hair than bees, and their legs are more outstretched for carrying pollen. They also have wings that are the same length as the body, and their wings fold in a lateral fashion when resting.

Yellow jackets scavenge on meat and fish, and they feed these items to their larvae. They also feed on tree sap, fruit and nectar. Yellow jackets eat sugar, which attracts them to trash and picnic areas. The insects are also attracted to perfume scents and bright clothing with floral patterns. Yellow jackets feed on other insects as well, such as flies and beetle grubs.

Yellow jackets dwell in the ground, and a single colony may have over 1,000 workers by the time fall arrives. Sterile females comprise the workers, and the males arrive by summer, mating with the females who later become queens the following year. Mated females hibernate during winter, and the males and remaining females die off when the cold arrives. Yellow jackets are not prone to casual stinging, but they are quick to attack when defending the colony.

Learn more about Stinging Insects

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