What To Do About Yellow Jackets On Your Maryland Property


Spring has sprung, and the summer season is quickly approaching.  The time has finally come for both people and pests to re-emerge from their winter hideaways.  Neighbors who have been hibernating during the winter months are once again coming outdoors to fire up barbecues and dust off deck furniture.  Ice cream trucks are ready to jingle their bells, and the sunbathers are digging out their tanning lotions and sunscreens.  While we look forward to socializing with our family and friends, an unwanted pest is preparing to join us.

up close image of a yellow jacket that landed on a rock

Six Identifying Characteristics Of A Yellow Jacket

A yellow jacket’s markings distinguish it from other bees.  Its black and yellow markings announce to the world that it is ready to make its spring and summer appearance.  Yellow jackets are not your ordinary insects.  Their markings and habits are vastly different from other bees.  Its identifying characteristics are as follows:

  1. The “worker” is about ½ inch in length.
  2. The queen is considerably larger and measures about ¾ inch in length.
  3. They have two wings.
  4. They have black and yellow bands over their abdomen.
  5. They have a thin, smooth body with a slender narrowing at their abdomen and thorax.
  6. They have spear-like stingers.

The Yellow Jacket’s Home Base

16 different species of yellow jackets are common in the United States.  The Eastern yellow jacket and the German yellow jacket are common in the Maryland area.  They prefer urbanized, suburban, and rural areas, , always looking for a warm place to live.

Spring is the most important season for establishing a yellow jacket colony; therefore, it is best to remove any nests you find in the early part of spring - before the queen starts bringing babies into the world (nests can produce thousands of insects within them).  As it is only the queen that survives through the winter months, she eagerly begins building her new colony at the first sign of spring.  She typically establishes her nest underground or in an aerial site. The nest is made from chewed cellulose and has a paper-like appearance.  It commonly attaches the nest to bushes, trees, sheds, cavities inside structured walls, eaves of homes, and underground.

While all nests pose a serious danger to those around them, underground nests are particularly frightening.  Simple everyday jobs like mowing and trimming produce sounds and vibrations (even from a distance) that can agitate the yellow jacket nest and set them to the attack in force.  Once the nest has been disturbed, yellow jackets are more than capable of chasing the agitator over large distances.

Ravenous Carnivores With A Sweet Tooth

Most of the general population dreads the arrival of the yellow jacket; however, they do have some fans.  Yellow jackets are carnivorous (meat-eaters).  They aid farmers in controlling the insect population who feed on their crops and plants.  They are extremely useful in keeping caterpillars in check.  This makes them a friend to the farmer in removing unwanted pests.

As the summer fades and the nest population explodes exponentially, the yellow jacket larva starts to produce less sugar for the workers to eat.  This will force the workers to pursue other sources of sugar outside of the nest.  Some of their sugar favorites are flower nectar, ripe fruit, and soda cans (if they find an open one).  Your garbage can is full of deliciously attractive sugary treats just ripe for the picking.

Dangerous Yellow Jacket Nests

A few yellow jackets here and there is no big deal, but a nest in your yard poses a real problem.  While they are slow to sting, a yellow jacket is extremely territorial.  If you disturb or enter their nest, they will come after you!  A yellow jacket will pierce your skin with its stinger and inject a venom that causes sudden pain.  Unlike other bees, they can keep on stinging multiple times.  Stingers are painful to most, but others who are allergic to venom can end up in the hospital.  Others who have never had any issues with reactions in the past can develop a hypersensitivity to a yellow jacket’s sting that causes problems in the future.

Keeping Stinging Insects Off Of Your Maryland Property

Having a yellow jacket or other stinging insect nest on your Maryland property is a hazard and removing one on your own is downright dangerous. Here are some strategies to keep stinging insects and their nests off your property:

  • Have nests removed immediately by a professional.
  • Refrain from overplanting and overwatering your yard with sweet, sugary temptations.
  • Remove sources of protein (caterpillars, spiders, and flies).
  • Remove sweet things (flowers, fruit trees, leaving sugary drinks outside).
  • Use trash cans with tight-fitting lids.
  • Repair any cracks or open spaces in and out of your home where nests could be formed.
  • Remove any yard junk that could become a home to yellow jackets and other stinging pests.

How Can Capitol Pest Help?

Tackling a yellow jacket problem on your own can have disastrous ramifications.  We offer both residential and commercial initial inspections of your property (both inside and out) to locate potential yellow jacket nests.  Fortunately, the experts at Capitol Pest have over 80 years of experience in getting rid of pests – including yellow jackets. Our staff welcomes your inquiries and looks forward to providing you with prompt and professional service. Whether you’re dealing with yellow jackets or other wanted pests, Capitol Pest is here for you! Reach out to us today!

Tags: home pest control | yellow jackets in maryland | preventing yellow jackets |

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