Yellow Jackets vs. Hornets

Yellow Jacket

There’s nothing better than the first signs of warmer weather. Longer days, more sunlight, extra time outside—but sometimes, that also means more insects. Many of us in New York and Vermont deal with an influx of bees and wasps this time of year, so let’s explore the differences between yellow jackets vs. hornets, and how to keep your families safe.

Aren’t bees essential to the environment?

Yes. They pollinate plants and are vital to agriculture. But yellow jackets and hornets are not bees—they’re actually both different types of wasps. And they’re far more aggressive.

What makes these two species of wasps distinct from one another?

Hornets have a smooth body, and will be mostly black in color. They tend to nest in plants and shrubs, or even up in trees. You might also find a hornet nest attached to houses or powerpoles, and the nests can be rather small (think a few inches across) to several feet in diameter.

Yellow jackets, as their name suggests, have bright yellow coloring and long wings. They’re smaller than hornets, only about ½-inch in length, and build their nests underground or in hollow logs. They can also choose to nest between walls or in attics.

Are hornets more aggressive than yellow jackets?

Neither of these pests are particularly friendly, but yellow jackets are far more aggressive than other stinging insects, including hornets. They’re known for vigorously defending their nests, which is why mowing the lawn late in the summer, when colonies are at their largest, can be dangerous. The slightest vibration may cause yellow jackets to perceive a threat, and they’ll react accordingly.

Oh, and along with a fiery sting, yellow jackets can actually bite you, too. Often they’ll grab hold of the skin to get a better grip before they sting. They may also sting multiple times since they don’t lose their stinger. 

Why not just get rid of yellow jackets and hornets all together?

Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, wasps are omnivorous. That means they eat plants as well as other insects. So despite their aggressiveness, yellow jackets and hornets do take care of your garden by snacking on pesky insects like beetles and caterpillars. 

However, yellow jackets are also attracted by sweet smells, which is why you might find them hovering around the fruit plate during your summertime picnics. If they find your backyard to be a good source of sweet treats, they’ll hang around, so make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning up and storing garbage in a covered trash can. 

How do I manage yellow jackets vs. hornets?

Remember that both yellow jackets and hornets are extremely protective of their nests, and the smallest vibrations can set them off. If you suspect an infestation, keep your distance and call a professional. It’s safest for you and your family. 

But unless they’re nesting in a busy place, it’s best to leave them alone. They shouldn’t be viewed as pests unless their presence in your house or your backyard poses a risk to you and your family.

Speak to the experts for yellow jacket and hornet extermination in Upstate New York and Vermont

Whether you’re dealing with yellow jackets vs. hornets, Nature’s Way Pest Control can help. Please call (518) 471-2219 for services in Albany, Glens Falls, Saratoga, or as far north as Plattsburgh, NY. For experts in Rutland, Burlington, and western Vermont, call (802) 230-1112

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