Even if yellow jackets can sting and that may really hurt, a reason why you might have checked reviews of yellow jacket traps in an attempt to keep them away from your garden, these buzzing creatures do come with a few benefits as they can accomplish some pollination.
From the food yellow jackets prefer to how to protect yourself from their stings, today’s post highlights the most important facts on yellow jacket wasps. Check it out to get more information on what’s buzzing in your garden.
What are yellow jackets?
Yellow jackets could easily be mistaken for hornets and it takes a bit of knowledge to make the difference between them and various wasp species. However, there are some characteristics that will help you identify them, so you can act accordingly in case they sting you or visit your garden.
Yellow jackets are large native wasps that live in colonies and are thus social insects. What sets them apart from other wasps is their yellow body, hence their name, and the large shiny back. The male yellow jackets have seven yellow patterns on their abdomen whereas females have six. They are 0.39-0.62-inch long and, unlike other bees, have no body hair.
There are no great differences between a honeybee colony and a yellow jacket colony. They are very similar in structure. Therefore, when it comes to yellow jackets, there is a queen wasp that builds the nest and that is the only female to reproduce and thus lay eggs. Most wasp workers are sterile females yet the colony also includes a few males for mating purposes.
Unlike bees, though, they do not live in hives but in nests that are usually built on the ground and in secluded areas. What also sets them apart is the fact that the yellow jacket queen won’t use a nest to live in twice.
What do they eat?
Many people would expect yellow jackets, since they are wasps, to feed on sugar and nectar. While they do so, this is just a little part of their diet. They prefer a diet that is rich in carbohydrates and protein and are thus carnivorous, unlike bumblebees and honeybees. Flies, spiders, and caterpillars are treats they feast on.
You might know more about them if you’ve ever left your food outside or you’ve organized a picnic with your dear ones. They can get really pesky when food is around since they won’t hold back from feeding on juices, carbonated beverages, and even meat.
Despite their interest in insects, they do prey on flower nectar, especially in late summer. Yellow jackets will target flowers with nectar sources that can be easily accessed. Their hairless bodies prevent them from transferring large amounts of pollen. However, since they live in great groups, when they reach a flower area, they do some pollination.
The benefits of yellow jackets
Even if it may seem like there are no major benefits from having these buzzing insects around, there actually are a few advantages in allowing yellow jackets to live near your garden. As we’ve said before, they feed on insects such as spiders, flies, and caterpillars.
This turns them into a great organic pest controller. If you have plants you grow for food and you want to protect them from such intruders, attracting yellow jackets to your garden is a beneficial thing to do.
How to attract yellow jackets to your crop
If they’ve built a nest near your garden or home and they don’t become a problem or aggressive, the only thing you should do is just allow them to live there. They will provide you with free pest control services and will do so without harmful chemicals being involved.
Also, you might help them stay near your crops by building a fruit waste pile because they feed on fallen apples and fruits. So, setting up such a pile away from your house yet near the plants you want to protect from pests will help you prevent plant damages caused by beetles and other bugs. Plus, this will also keep the yellow jackets away from your home.
What if they are aggressive?
Even if yellow jackets are beneficial from an ecological point of view and they will help you control the various pests targeting your plants, they sting, and they may do so for no apparent reason. If that happens and it hurts, make sure you get professional help or see your doctor.
If you have a yellow jacket on you, try not to fuss and brush it off you gently. Don’t crush or harm it as you may make things worse. Also, avoid wearing perfumes and colorful clothes on hot summer days as you will attract them.
In case you want them around your garden but not close to your house and you find them on your patio or deck, you can use some passive traps like the ones made from soda bottles. Make sure to remove any food that could attract them.
What if they sting?
What makes yellow jackets different from bees is that they sting multiple times. Whether they sting once or several times, they will inject a venom that causes pain, inflammation, redness, itching, and other similar symptoms. If you’ve been unlucky enough to get stung by a yellow jacket, there are some things you can do at home and should do immediately to feel better.
Reduce inflammation and pain by applying a cold pack or ice to the affected area. Make sure you wrap it in a towel to protect the skin. Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine is also recommended as it will help you reduce symptoms.
Still, if you experience more severe symptoms such as wheezing, breathing problems, dizziness, diarrhea, or vomiting, make sure to get professional help as soon as possible. These symptoms are signs of an allergic reaction and some of them such as anaphylaxis may be life-threatening.