Bees and wasps are an important part of our ecosystem.  These insects cross pollinate plants, flowers and trees. They also feed upon nuisance and destructive insects such as grubs and caterpillars.  Even though they have many positive attributes, they can still be dangerous.  But how do yellow jackets make their nests?  Yellow jackets chew up wood and mix it with their saliva to make the paper with which they build their nests.  

Yellow Jackets start with a single queen.  She will build the first few cells in the nest and lay eggs in them.  Once they hatch, these workers will continue to find wood, chew it up, and create further nest cells for the growing colony.  This method of making their nest is shared with other wasps such as the paper wasp.  It creates a quick and effective method of housing their young.   


The lifecycle of a yellow jacket revolves around their division of labor.  Much like other social insects, these hives begin with a queen, a reproductive male, and worker bees.  The mated female queen is the only yellow jacket that overwinters and survives the cold weather.   She will hide protected under bark, or in some other protected area until the warm weather arrives.  Once Spring has sprung, she will emerge and find a suitable place to begin her hive.  

Yellow jackets often find the old den of small rodents to build their hive in.  They can also use a basement or wall void in a building.  The queen will build a few cells of the new hive and lay a few eggs.  Once these eggs hatch, they will become workers and take over the day to day activities of the wasps.  This includes foraging for food, feeding the queen and larva, and building new paper cells for the queen to lay eggs in.  Your Oklahoma pest control company can help with an infestation.  

As the season starts to come to a close, the the hive will start to produce reproductive cells.  These insects are to become future queen and kings.  These reproductives will eventually leave the nest, and search for a mate from another hive.  Once males and females pair up, they will mate, and then the male will die off.  The female will fall to the ground and find a suitable spot to over winter, repeating the process again.  The overwintering fertilized females are the only yellow jackets to survive the winter.  


In spring and early summer, yellow jackets predominantly feed on small insects and grubs.  They chew up these insects and feed them to their young.  The larva create a sweet sticky substance that the workers consume for food.  This give and take process is called trophallaxis.  But as they get into the late summer months, food supplies start to become scarce.  

It’s during this time that yellow jackets begin to search for new sources of food.  They are not only looking for meat and protein, but also sugary carbohydrates.  Its during this time, that they will find our garbage and other sources of food.  They will often be found at picnics buzzing around half empty soda cans and old hot dogs.  Its important to thoroughly look inside sodas before drinking them, so as not to swallow an unsuspecting yellow jacket.  Stings in the throat can be very dangerous.  

Yellow jackets have smooth stingers, so they can sting many times.  This is unlike the honey bee that has a barbed stinger and can only sting once.  This can make yellow jackets much more dangerous.  Foraging yellow jackets will not attack unless trapped, but if you find their hive, they will defend it venomously.  If you see a hole in the ground where yellow jackets are going in and out of, or the hive hanging from a tree or in a basement, it is important to steer clear.  This is a great time to contact your Oklahoma exterminator for help.  


As stated before, the most dangerous time for yellow jacket stings is during the late months of summer, when food becomes scarce.  Outdoor fairs, picnics, birthday parties and other outdoor food consuming affairs can be an all you can eat buffet for these wasps.  Sanitation, and eliminating waste can go a long way in preventing anyone from being stung.  

When consuming food outside, especially soda, it is important to inspect soda cans and food before consuming them.  A swallowed yellow jacket will sting you in the throat, and this can lead to a swelling that can be life threatening.  Many people suffer allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings.  These reactions can also be life threatening.  For this reason, it is important that if you or a loved one are stung by a yellow jacket or other wasp, seek medical attention immediately, and contact your Tulsa exterminator.  


Yellow jackets, like other wasps, are not all bad.  They are very important predators that keep troublesome insects populations down.  These wasps feed on caterpillars and grubs that can over consume and damage plants and trees.  They also consume harmful flies that can spread disease.  

These wasps are also beneficial in other ways.  They consume pollen, much like their bee relatives, and do their part to cross pollinate plants and trees.  This is a very important task that few insects are capable of.  It is only when they are threatened that we find ourselves in danger of being stung.  Keeping far away from their nests will also keep us safe from their venom.  


If you find that your yard is being overrun by these wasps, or you have a hive somewhere on your property, it is time to contact your Tulsa pest control company.  Our techs are trained and equipped to handle all kinds of situations in which yellow jackets and other wasps and bees have become a nuisance.  We service the entire Tulsa area including Owasso, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Claremore, Jenks, Sand Springs, Pratville, Sapulpa, Bixby and more.  Call us today for a free estimate.  We are here to help!

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