by Chal Landgren, OSU Extension Christmas Tree Specialist
Anyway it is spelled- Yellowjacket, Yellow Jacket or Yellow-Jacket, these insects are feared and hated not only by picnickers, but by many working in the woods, and in Christmas trees. For Christmas tree growers they can inflict physical and economic pain, since they are unwanted hitchhikers in many shipping destinations.
First some biology- These are not honeybees. Rather, two predatory insects in the genus Vespula, whose common names are the Western Yellowjacket and German Yellowjacket. The Western
Yellowjacket (V. pensylvanica) is a common native. Yes, they are predators, but also scavengers, which makes them a pest at summer BBQs and picnics. The German yellowjacket (V. germanica) is an uncommon non-native species (not wanted in Mexico). Both these insects feed on other insects as well as nectar, honeydew and fruit.
Queens will overwinter in protected locations above or below ground and emerge in May. After the queen emerges she will begin her colony which eventually can include hundreds to thousands of workers. Fertilized queens will emerge again in October or November. Males (stingless) begin to emerge in large numbers in late July. Continue reading