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Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets – Oh My!

Did you know that all yellow jackets are wasps, but not all wasps are yellow jackets? Either way, they are known to have a bad reputation. Even though they provide several benefits to the environment, their tarnished reputation isn’t completely undeserved. These insects are aggressive, and they build their nests in walls, attics, and eaves of homes, and in shrubs, trees, and even the ground. It takes very little disturbance to initiate an attack response — ouch! Simple things, like walking by or opening a door, can trigger these aggressive pests, and it’s hard to avoid when they invade our habitats to build nests.

When one member of the colony is harmed or threatened (by being batted at or stepped on, for example), it releases an “alarm pheromone” that quickly results in an aggressive, defensive behavior from other members of the colony. It quickly turns into a full-on war of the wasps! These insects rapidly scale up into attack mode (they literally fly out of the nest in droves to defend) and can sting multiple times. If you didn’t know, their stings contain a nerve toxin that may result in hospitalization, so be very careful.

Because of their aggressive nature, it’s not a good idea for homeowners to try to treat these insects by themselves. Instead, learn how to identify these aggressive pests, and call the experts to take care of business.


There are several types of wasps in Florida, including Yellow Jackets, Paper Wasps, Cicada Killers, and Mud Daubers, to name a few.

Hornets Are Actually Yellow Jackets. In Florida, you’ll encounter the Eastern Yellow Jacket, the Southern Yellow Jacket, and the Bald-Faced Hornet (which is actually a yellow jacket). The term “hornet” is used for species with above-ground nests, while “yellow jacket” refers to species that make subterranean (underground) nests. No matter where they live, all yellow jacket and hornet species are social and live in colonies of hundreds to thousands of individuals.

You can spot a yellow jacket by the yellow and black markings on their bellies — not to be confused with bees (bees are friends). Yellow jacket stingers are not barbed, meaning they can sting repeatedly. Their nests, or should we say mansions, are made of a paper-like material and can be large enough to house thousands of wasps.

Eastern Yellow Jackets typically reside in subterranean nests, while Southern Yellow Jackets live in both aerial and below-ground nests. Bald Faced Hornets, on the other hand, live in aerial nests, which can be up to a foot or more in diameter.

Paper Wasps are usually yellow with brown markings or black with red or yellow markings. Their nests are also made of paper-like materials that queens build and colonies live in. The nests, shaped like an upside-down umbrella, are often found under eaves of houses or on shrub branches, so be very cautious while removing them from eaves or trimming shrubs. A nest usually has a single comb with up to 250 wasps.

Mud Daubers are black with a long, thin waist. This wasp is a little different than its relatives — it’s not social or very aggressive and rarely stings people. However, it usually builds its nests of mud close to human activity. Their nests are typically found on the sides of buildings or under eaves. This is interesting: mud daubers sting and paralyze spiders, lay an egg on it, and seal it in their nest chambers. When their larva hatch, they feed on the spider. When you see a hole in the mud, it means the wasp has come out of its chamber— yikes.

Trust in Trad's

Let us show those stinging pests wasp’s up this summer! Trad’s has the expert insight on how to protect your home, and we’re always here to help. Our Quarterly Pest Control programs are administered by Pest Control experts who are highly trained and know how to proceed in unique conditions present in Northeast Florida. Our professionals work with you to create a user-friendly program that best suits your needs. Call us today at 904-733-7488 to set up your consultation! We’ll give them the boot.

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