WSU Extension


Stinging Wasps
Hunting wasps 
Paper wasps 

print version| pdf version| email url    
Caption: Yellowjackets
Photo by: R.D. Akre
Stinging Wasps : Yellowjackets
(revision date: 10/23/2018)

Yellowjackets are aggressive especially in late summer and fall, do more harm than good and should not be encouraged. The nests of yellowjackets are located below ground or behind walls and may contain hundreds of wasps. The presence of a nest in garden is a clear and present threat to people and pets, for which professional help and removal should be sought. The foraging activities of yellowjackets are dominated by scavenging rather than predation, thus their potential danger in back yards outranks any pest control benefits.

Prey or Pest Targeted
  • Caterpillars, spiders, mantids, beetles,
Attracting and Keeping Natural Enemies & Pollinators in Your Yard
  • Avoid regular use of synthetic, broad-spectrum pesticides. Infrequent use of certain narrow-spectrum pesticides is more compatible with some beneficials but generally the less chemical inputs there are, the greater and more diverse the beneficial insect community will be. Extensive lawns are also not conducive to attracting and retaining a diversity of beneficial insects, mites and spiders. Minimize lawn areas and maximize shrub and bush plantings. Many beneficials reside naturally in riparian and other ‘natural’ areas near to many back yards. Natural dispersion from these refuges ensures that some beneficials will visit back yards but they will not stay unless food, host and shelter resources are available. Native plants have closer affinities with native insects and therefore provide most of these resources. A garden with a good diversity of local native flora in and around back yards, will improve the abundance and diversity of local, beneficial arthropods. Native flora also provides natural overwintering sites for many beneficial insects and it is useful to leave at least a small area of native vegetation undisturbed during fall and winter.
  • Some kinds of beneficial insects (e.g. lady beetles, lacewings, predatory mites) are available for purchase from commercial suppliers. However, benefits from introducing these beneficials are usually limited and short-lived. Upon release, commercially obtained lady beetles and lacewings often disperse and may rapidly leave your backyard despite the presence of prey and suitable nectar resources. Generally, it is more effective and sustainable to create a garden habitat that will be colonized by beneficials naturally.


+ Show larger images

Caption: Yellowjackets
Photo by: R.D. Akre
Caption: Western yellowjacket (Vespula pennsylvanica) (Vespidae)
Photo by: D.G. James
Caption: Yellowjacket
Photo by: K. Gray