Why Are There So Many Yellowjackets?

By Chris Williams on August 20, 2015.

It seems like, all of a sudden, we have yellowjackets everywhere. We couldn’t even enjoy our cook-out on the deck last night because of the yellowjackets trying to get at the food. Is this a particularly bad year for yellowjackets?

T. W., Clinton, MA
Why Are There So Many Yellowjackets - Colonial Pest

Any year when yellowjackets take over your yard is a bad year for yellowjackets! You no doubt have two things going on right now that make the situation seem worse than normal: (1) yellowjacket problems always accelerate as the summer goes on and are particularly bad in late summer, and (2) you probably just have more yellowjacket nests in your yard this year than usual.


In Late Summer, Yellowjackets Are At The Peak of Peskiness

A yellowjacket nest grows in size and in numbers of workers as the summer progresses. Many people don’t even notice yellowjackets until late summer. A nest is probably at peak size in mid-August with up to 4,000 worker wasps. At about this time, the nest starts to decline and begins to die off. There are no new larvae produced and worker yellowjackets are no longer collecting insects to feed to the young. Instead, they become annoying pests around people food because their habits and their tastes have changed. They are now randomly foraging, mostly for sweets to feed themselves (see What Do Wasps Feed On?).

Yellowjacket workers will die before the first cold snap of fall. Before that happens, the nest produces a select few females and males that mate, spend the winter, and start next year’s nests. The old nest is not reused.


These Nests Will Produce Next Year’s Queens

You may be noticing more yellowjackets now because you have more than one active nest, or because an active nest is located close to your deck area (see Yellowjacket Nests Too Close for Comfort?). Since a yellowjacket nest produces next year’s queens, any nests in your yard last summer could have been the origin of this year’s nests. This is why it’s usually a good idea to destroy an active nest even if it is late in the season, before next year’s queens are produced.


Take Steps to Prevent Yellowjacket Nests

Besides destroying current nests, how can you prevent yellowjacket nests next year? The main thing is to destroy nests early in the season, as soon as they are discovered. Here are other tips for steps that you can take in advance to prevent nesting yellowjackets:

Give Colonial Pest a call ASAP and let our technicians locate and eliminate the yellowjacket nests in your yard. You still have a few weeks of nice weather left, you might as well enjoy them free of pesky yellowjackets!


Photo credit: SidPix / Foter / CC BY



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