Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown, usually with yellow markings and yellow legs.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Paper carton nests made up of chewed cellulose found in the ground, eaves, or attics


  • Can be very territorial around their nests
  • They are able to sting more than once
  • Seek out fruit and sugar during the summer months

Yellowjackets in Southern California

Found throughout the United States, yellowjackets, along with European hornets, are the most infamous structure-infesting wasps. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans, were it not for their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics and cavities associated with landscaping features. Adult yellowjackets feed mainly on fruit juices and other sweet liquid materials, whereas their larvae are fed bits of soft-bodied insects like caterpillars and flies. Yellowjackets are known to get more aggressive in the late summer and fall.

Yellowjacket Habitat

Of the two varieties of yellowjackets in the state, the German yellowjacket prefers to construct its nests inside building walls. Yellowjackets nests are at their largest at summer’s end and can also be found in trees, shrubs, or underground. Indoor nests, which are especially tricky to remove, allow these wasps to remain active through the end of the year. And while yellow jackets don’t reuse their nests, instead of building new ones in the spring, it’s important to get rid of them. Old, abandoned yellow jacket nests attract other kinds of pests. The entrance of the nest is normally a hole located at the bottom.

Yellowjacket Threats

Yellowjackets are most likely to sting or attack when their nest is threatened. However, they get more aggressive as it gets later in the summertime. The yellowjacket will sting, often multiple times, when a victim bends a limb and squeezes the insect at the crook of an elbow or behind a knee. The wasp’s sting is very painful, not to mention dangerous to those with sensitivities. The anaphylactic shock from bee and wasp stings kills as many as 50 people in the U.S. annually.

If you notice a yellowjacket problem forming near your property, contact your local wasp removal experts.