By Chris Williams on August 11, 2017.

Why have yellowjackets gotten so bad lately ? Do they all of a sudden move into a new area because I didn’t notice any around our house earlier this summer? L. O., New Castle, NH

Maybe you haven’t spent much time outside lately, but I can assure you that the yellowjackets have been around. Colonies are started in the spring when mated queens that have spent the winter in hiding emerge and look for a suitable nest site (see How Do Yellowjackets Reproduce?).

The queen begins by constructing a rudimentary nest by herself and laying eggs in constructed cells. When the first batch of yellowjacket workers emerge, they take over the duties of the nest, including foraging for food and enlarging the nest, while the queen concentrates on egg laying.

What you’re noticing is the natural growth of a yellowjacket colony throughout the season. Actually, two things are at play here: (1) yellowjacket colonies grow from spring until fall and that means more yellowjackets are added to the nest through time. By late summer or early fall, a typical yellowjacket nest can have 1,000 to 4,000 worker wasps, and (2) yellowjackets become more aggressive and, therefore, more noticeable later in the season as their nests start to decline.


Yellowjackets die off in the fall, except for next year’s queens. Because there is no more egg laying, no new larvae to feed, and insects are becoming scarce, the workers begin foraging less for protein and switch more to sugary foods and people foods. This is when they really become noticeable pests in backyards and at picnics.

This is why we say, “the earlier, the better” when it comes to finding and eliminating yellowjacket nests. Not only will nests continue to increase in size through late summer, and become more difficult to control, but current nests will produce queens that will start next year’s nests. So, you could have even more yellowjacket nests in your yard next year as a result of this year’s surviving nests (see Get Rid of Yellowjackets Now to Prevent Next Year’s Nests).

It’s not too late to eliminate problem yellowjacket nests; they haven’t even gotten to the really pesky stage yet. Give Colonial Pest a call today so you can enjoy the rest of the season without yellowjackets. In the meantime, check out this blog, Make Your Yard Less Attractive to Yellowjackets, to find out what you can do to minimize yellowjacket risk.

Photo Credit : Randy Robertson | CC BY 2.0



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