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The Truth About Yellow Jackets And Wasps

yellow jacket

The truth is, many people mistakenly call Yellow Jackets “bees” but they are actually wasps. They pose a serious threat to many homeowners in Colorado. Having wasps circle around your head and your food can be quite a nuisance. Not only is a wasp sting very painful but it can also be dangerous for those who are allergic. If someone in your home is allergic, even one sting can result in a visit to the emergency room or a serious infection. Though wasps usually keep out of the way, they can be aggressive if they feel threatened and will attack suddenly.

Wasps and bees can be a problem throughout Colorado, particularly late in the summer. During this season yellowjacket wasps search for food around garbage and outdoor food areas. However, these insects are beneficial, particularly as pollinators and predators of pests. Because the potential for problems and how to control each type differs, it is important to distinguish between the various wasps and bees.

Yellowjacket Wasps

As the number one problem in Colorado, the western yellowjacket wasp has a very annoying reputation. We all have encountered their presence around backyard cookouts, picnic outings, and garbage. Late in the summer, when the colonies can reach up to 200, they become serious nuisance pests.  Although most sting victims blame bees, 90 percent of all “bee stings” in Colorado are from the western yellowjacket, followed by the European paper wasp.

Yellowjackets have bands of yellow or orange and black. Because of this, they are commonly mistaken for honey bees; even though they lack the hairy body and are more intensely colored. Yellowjackets typically nest underground using existing rodent burrows and occasionally nests can be found in dark, enclosed areas of a building. These areas include crawl spaces, wall voids, and eaves.

Yellowjackets will regularly return to sites where food and water sources are available. Therefore, it is important to eliminate all food sources to keep them from returning. Water sources around the yard may also attract yellowjackets during the hot, dry periods of the summer months.

Using baits and traps for the control of yellowjackets has known to be successful. The chemical heptyl butyrate tends to attract the western yellowjacket and is included as a lure in many wasp traps. These traps can be helpful when used early in the season during June and early July. This is a great time when the number of yellowjackets is small and the colonies are struggling to become established. However, these traps will not attract the European paper wasp and are useless for control of these wasps.

Paper Wasps

Number two on the nuisance list in Colorado is the paper wasp.  The paper wasp and the western paper wasp, make open cell nests out of paper. Often these nests are constructed under building overhangs. However, the European paper wasp, a new species of wasp in Colorado first discovered in 1999, are unlikely to bother humans unless disturbed. They build visible nests often attached to surfaces that overhang, such as the underside of decks or eaves. They will also nest in small gaps in the sides of buildings, within metal poles and gutters, and inside outdoor grills. The native paper wasp is reddish-brown and marked with yellow but the European paper wasp is marked with shiny black and yellow, making it easy to mistake for a yellowjacket.

Paper wasps do not scavenge and are beneficial predators of caterpillars and other insects. However, European paper wasps tend to nest in many locations around a yard and has greatly increased the occurrences of stings from this species of wasps.

The Difference Between Wasps & Bees:

  • Most wasps develop by feeding on insects. Bees develop from a diet of pollen and nectar.
  • Almost all insect stings are from yellowjackets and the European paper wasp, which is a new species to the state.
  • Yellowjackets, hornets and paper wasps make nests out of paper. Honeybees and bumblebees make nests of wax. Solitary bees and wasps make nests in existing holes in the ground, rotting wood, and natural cavities. Some wasps even make their nests out of mud.

Wasps and bees can be a serious nuisance problem throughout Colorado, particularly late in the summer. In the overall balance of nature, these insects are beneficial and necessary, particularly as they pollinate and prey on undesirable insects.

Wasps are notorious for moving into eaves, crawlspaces and even behind vinyl siding. In many cases, the only pest control services needed are pesticides; other times, the entire hive will need to be removed. If you happen to find a nest larger than your fist, it is time to call in the professionals. For all your wasp removal services, call Beeline Pest Control in Denver today at (720) 307-3004.