Actual Size: ½ to 1”

Characteristics: Dark brown or black in color, usually with yellow markings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Makes papery nests using chewed-up cellulose, often in eaves or near roofs.


  • Colonies can grow to contain up to 4,000 workers.
  • Creates papery nests, either on the ground or aerial.
  • Are most active and aggressive in late summer or early fall.

Yellowjackets in Memphis TN Metro Area

Yellowjackets, the notorious wasps, can be encountered across the entire United States. Despite their beneficial nature, living in large colonies consisting of thousands of individuals, they become a greater concern for humans due to their opportunistic nesting habits in empty spaces within structures, attics, and various landscape features. Fully grown yellowjackets primarily feed on fruit juices and other sugary liquids, while their larvae are nourished with small portions of soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars and flies. It is worth noting that these wasps tend to exhibit increased aggressiveness during the late summer and early autumn periods.

Yellowjacket Habitat

Yellowjackets exhibit two primary nesting preferences: ground nesters, who often repurpose old rodent burrows, and aerial nesters. The latter construct their nests among the foliage of trees and shrubs, as well as on man-made structures. On occasion, these nests can even be found on the sides of buildings, within wall cavities, under eaves, in crawlspaces, and in attics. The nest entrance is typically situated at the lower portion. Unlike ground nesters, aerial yellowjackets do not scavenge during the fall season, but they fiercely defend their nests when disturbed. It is crucial to locate the nest by observing their flight patterns in order to effectively eliminate them.

Yellowjacket Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Yellowjackets generally display a less aggressive nature when it comes to stinging, unless their nest is under threat. However, it’s important to note that yellowjacket stings can pose a greater risk to humans compared to bee stings. This is because a yellowjacket’s stinger lacks barbs, allowing it to sting multiple times. Individuals may vary in sensitivity, with some experiencing allergic reactions that warrant medical attention following a sting. In certain cases, yellowjackets residing in wall voids may chew through drywall and enter the living spaces of a structure. Naturally, the presence of numerous wasps flying about within a room can be distressing for homeowners. If you spot a yellowjacket nest, always contact a licensed wasp removal expert for help.