Common Yellow Jacket (Paravespula vulgaris)

Order: Hymenoptera (hy-men-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Vespidae (VES-pid-ee) (Info)
Genus: Paravespula (par-a-VES-puh-la) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Valley, Alabama
Anchorage, Alaska
Deer, Arkansas
, British Columbia
Calistoga, California
Fairfax, California
Glen Avon, California
San Jose, California
Sebastopol, California
Augusta, Georgia
Newburgh, Indiana
Lansing, Kansas
Grayson, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Lafayette, Louisiana
College Park, Maryland
Mount Airy, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Milton, Massachusetts
Cedar Lake, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Roswell, New Mexico
Bucyrus, Ohio
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Middleburg, Pennsylvania
Baytown, Texas
Houston, Texas
Mont Belvieu, Texas
Portland, Texas
Rockwall, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Manassas, Virginia
Pembroke, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Pomeroy, Washington
Fairview, West Virginia
Morgantown, West Virginia
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Jun 21, 2008, ilovejesus99 from Baytown, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

I was applying weed killer to poison ivy yesterday. I did not realize what had gotten in my hair so I shook it out, it took that yellow jacket maybe 3 min to come back and sting me on the back, I have not felt such horrible pain. The welt is as big around as a baseball and still very painful today.

I went out to find what got me and there is a huge nest in one of my pampas grass. I will try to post later when I get a better picture of it. I love the clear bowl idea as they will suffer as much as I am. Nothing has eased the pain. Needless to say at the amount of yellow jackets coming and going from the nest I am very blessed to have only 1 sting. If excruciating pain can be called blessed.


On Apr 21, 2008, davenaylorj from Crawfordsville, IN wrote:

Question: Yellow jackets and several other wasps invade my muskmelon patch in August and devour ripe and unripe fruit with gusto. They chew right through floating row covers and I cannot cover a large patch with screen wire. Insecticides nontoxic to mammals seem ineffective. Any suggestions. I think they are attracting wasps from well beyond my property so destroying nests is out.


On Apr 7, 2008, OutlawDJ from Middleburg, PA wrote:

Yellow Jackets live in the ground, and even though they are beneficial they should be removed from areas of human habitation. I dislike them after being stung 67 times when I was 7 years old. And yes that was quite a while ago, but the experience was bad enough that the number has always stuck in my mind. I enjoy the glass bowl method because then I can get payback watching those little suckers starve.

I have another way to get rid of them if you don't mind a skunk around your place at night. Locate the nest entrance during the day. After dark, go back and pour a good bit of honey into and around the hole. A skunk will be attracted by the honey and dig into the hole to get the rest of it. When the skunk smells the yellow jackets and larvae, he will dig out and eat the entir... read more


On Feb 13, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Interesting enough most of the comments here may instead be for other species of Yellow Jackets. This native European species is an invasive species in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. It is destructive in New Zealand. This is more of a northern species, preferring areas with cold winters or areas with mild climates. It is found in the Boreal forests of North America, downward to Iowa, Great Lake States, Appalachian Mountains, New England , the Central Rockies Mountains, and down the Pacific Coast into the coastal part of Central California. It nest underground much like Eastern Yellow Jacket. If Common Yellow Jacket is given a plant hardness zone it would be zone 2 to 6b but higher for milder climates.


On Sep 1, 2007, mariaerosselle from College Park, MD wrote:

I hate these things. I know they are beneficial near a garden but my garden is in the front yard not the back. My husband was mowing the lawn a few days ago and got stung by one and almost got stung again before he realized what was going on. At first he did not know what bit him and he asked me to look at it. There was no stinger and I asked him what it looked like and he said like a honey bee but bigger. I said oh a Yellow Jacket. I immediately washed it and gave him benadryl and put benadryl directly on the bite, its Friday and this happened on Monday and he still has it. I hate those things!


On Jul 1, 2007, jimbodia from Valley, AL wrote:

These are very dangerous. My cousin was killed by one that stung him on the neck.
When you want to kill them, wait until night when they are inactive. They are all on the nest and you don't have to do battle with the ones flying around protecting the nest.
An interesting way to kill them is to put a glass bowl over their nest entrance. They see the light so they don't try to tunnel a new exit, they just keep trying to "go toward the light". After several days, (maybe a week or longer) the whole nest will be dead. Don't use this method if you have kids or animals around who might move the bowl b/c they will be attacked.


On Mar 17, 2007, Mrs_Williams from Lafayette, LA wrote:

Shubuty, I feel your pain, we were running from YJ all summer long here in Louisiana.

My son was stung twice on the face by YJ who built a nest inside a gardenia bush planted by the previous owners that was at least 9 feet tall. He was playing basketball at least 10 feet away, I guess all his running and jumping and bouncing of the ball disturbed them. Needless to say, we cut it down.

I did find these little traps that you put sweet smelling things like apple juice inside. They also come with little pellets you mix with water. They smell the sugar fly in but the top of the traps prevent them from flying out. They work pretty well but I think only the morons of the bunch fell for it because I think the others saw thier buddies floating in the juice a... read more


On Mar 10, 2007, shubuty from Morgantown, WV wrote:

Summer, 2006, seemed a banner year for yellow jackets (and other wasps) in my yard. Despite searching diligently, I couldn't find one nest. Very well hidden.

Yellow jackets took over the "heritage" raspberry patch, eating almost every berry. It was terrible. Talk about aggressive. Actually chased us away.


On Jan 9, 2007, joegee from Bucyrus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am highly allergic to both the yellow and white-faced hornets. For me, one sting is fatal if not quickly treated (with epinephrine.) These insects may be beneficial, but they cause more fear in me than Africanized honeybees. Several hundred aggressive hornets stinging dozens of times each can certainly be as dangerous as several thousand bees stinging once each.

Both can be deadly if not treated with respect.

On the other hand I have found that if I don't provoke hornets they'll leave me alone. By being careful I've not been stung in thirty years. If hornets are in an area where they may come contact with humans I call a professional (I had a colony removed from inside one of the walls of my house,) otherwise, I do not disturb them. Like snakes, sco... read more


On Nov 14, 2006, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

The common yellow jacket (Paravespula vulgaris) is useful to the gardener because it eats harmful aphids and flies as well as caterpillars, nectar, refuse and rotting fruit. It is usually more aggressine in the fall when larvae need to be fed. I have been stung many times - usually because I had put my hand on a nest while pruning a shrub. One time 2 or 3 somehow became trappped behind my brother's glasses and stung his eye and eyelid repeatedly before he could take his glasses off. He was about 8 years old. This was horrible. He had to be taken to the hospital, but I don't recall what medical treatment he received besides being given painkiller.


On Sep 25, 2006, carrielamont from Milton, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

We have been trying to evict this colony of wasps from our patio all summer. My husband was stung by the entire swarm when we first discovered the nest. Luckily, he did not have an anaphylactic reaction, but I think he used up his lifetime allotment of stings in one go! YJs do not die after they sting, nor do they lose their stinger. So the same YJ, say, trapped under your shirt, can sting repeatedly. The first symptom of multiple stings is excruciating pain for several days, followed by at least a week of unbearable itching. My DH ended up on Prednisone.


On Sep 22, 2006, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Yellow Jackets can be deadly, killed a young man here two years ago. He was trimming a hedge while wearing shorts and stepped in a nest. One sting is painful, but these things swarm when you hit thier nests. Hundreds of stings can be quite deadly. On the positive side they are not usually agressive until late in the season and have built large nests. In my youth they were quite a pain in the September hayfield, when mowing with a horse drawn mowing machine.


On Sep 21, 2006, greenlina from Corpus Christi, TX wrote:

can't get rid of them. knocked their nest down they picked it up abd started over. that was after i sprayed twice. i heard mint extract might work, havent' found any yet. any ideas?


On Jul 24, 2006, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is one of the most common yellow jackets, often spotted in urban areas flying around garbage cans and other convenient sources of protein and sugar. They are subterranean nesters, and an individual nest can host up to 15,000 individual wasps.

Stings can be very painful (as I can personally attest), though pain and inflammation usually subside within a day. As is often the case with wasp and bee stings, a portion of the population may have severe allergic reactions to yellow jacket venom and will need medical attention.

Yellow jackets are considered fairly aggressive wasps, especially when near their nests, and should not be disturbed.