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 Yellowjacket Q&A

- Common questions about yellowjackets -

Summary: Frequently asked questions about yellowjacket wasps. Please send your questions to 'Bugs (no charge if we use your question here).

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Question: Should I try to trap yellowjacket queens in the spring?

A: No. In terms of the number of wasps that will be around in late summer, when it really matters, eliminating queens in the spring has no real effect. Studies have shown that eliminating even 95% of the queens in an area does not reduce the number of foraging wasps later in the summer, and the reason is pretty simple. The few queens that survive build larger nests because their competitors have been eliminated. So, don't waste time trying to trap or kill queens in the spring. Instead, use our management suggestions for treating nests directly and using baits (see Treating Yellowjacket Nests & Using Yellowjacket Baits).

male yellowjacket wasp

A typical yellowjacket, or social wasp. Common names include yellow jackets, bees, hornets, ground hornets, and garbage bees.


Question: Does a cold winter suppress wasp numbers?

A: Probably not. Overwintering queens are fully adapted to the local climate so even an unusually cold winter probably does not significantly increase their mortality. Plus, even if queen mortality is higher the surviving queens likely have more success, and bigger nests (same reason that is discussed above).

The factor that does suppress yellowjacket numbers in late summer is spring weather. Cold, wet springs tend to interfere with nest initiation while warm, dry weather tends to help it along. These effects can be very localized, however.

Question. Are poison baits available for area-wide control of problem nests?

A: Yes!. A new insecticide called Onslaught Microencapsulated Insecticide is now available for bait preparation. See Using Yellowjacket Baits for details.


Question. How do yellowjacket wasps survive the winter?

A: For most species the entire nest dies before first frost and only mated queens survive the winter. These newly-mated queens find a protected spot and "hunker down" until warm spring weather allows them to begin nest-building.

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