January 26, 2023

Identifying a Hornet vs. Yellowjacket Infestation

Oh no! A wasp! Or wait, is that a hornet?

Understanding the differences between a hornet vs. yellow jacket infestation can be challenging because of the insects’ similar appearances and behaviors. However, you don’t have to struggle without knowing what pest is invading your lawn. 

Check out our blog, where we’ll detail all of the characteristics that set yellow jackets and hornets apart. 

What Hornets Live in the United States?

While around 20 different hornet species are scattered throughout the world, only one has a secure foothold in America. 

The European hornet migrated from European countries in the mid-1800s, catching a ride from supply ships heading to America. From there, they’ve spread out through the country, primarily populating the East Coast.

European hornets are much larger than traditional yellow jackets or wasps, ranging in size from an inch to an inch and a half. These pests look differently, too, with their reddish-brown and yellow colorations. 

These are busy little bees–err, hornets– as well. European hornet nests are large to accommodate the impressive little insects, with around 300-400 pests living inside. Well-developed nests can even hold up to 1000 hornets!

While the European hornet is the only species technically living in the United States, other pests have slowly started creeping over in recent years. 

In the past few years, the northern giant hornet has raised alarms over its invasive appearance in Washington state. Growing up to 2 inches or larger, the northern giant hornet is the largest hornet species in the world!

Because these pests harm local honey bee populations, curtailing their population in the United States is essential. In Washington, you should never see a true hornet, but always contact the Department of Agriculture for any strange insect sightings.

Hornet vs. Yellow Jacket Behavior 

We all know yellow jackets are some of the most aggressive wasp species, but hornets may give them a run for their money! While yellow jackets take the cake for reported stings, you don’t want to mess with hornets on your property, either. 

Throughout the spring and summer seasons, yellow jackets aren’t insects you want to deal with. They will attack anything or anyone that inches too close to their nest or appears as a threat. 

Yellow jackets are notorious for their temper and will lash out at anything that appears antagonistic. Because they are hard-wired to protect their hive and its inhabitants, they’ll do anything to send you running the other way.

Plus, yellow jackets are much different from honey bees. These pests can sting more than once, leaving you with multiple painful and potentially dangerous injuries. Some yellow jacket species will even chase after you as you run!

Hornets aren’t as dangerous as yellow jackets, but don’t assume these pests are any more docile than their smaller relatives. While they may not attack you while they forage for food in the summer, they will sting if you stray too close to their nest.

Once viable food sources dwindle during the fall, wasps of any species become highly confrontational and may turn to unlikely sources to find their next meal. You'll have angry backyard visitors when they don’t have fresh fruits and flowers to feast on. 

Both hornets and yellow jackets will start searching through your trash or other outdoor food sources to sate their hunger. If you’re enjoying fruit or sweet drinks outdoors, these wasps may set their sights on you!

Between a hornet vs. yellow jacket infestation, yellow jackets are more likely to attack. Still, you should remain wary of both pests, especially whenever the outdoor foliage begins to wilt!

Hornet and Yellow Jacket Hive

Nest location and appearance can help you differentiate between the two wasps. 

European hornets typically build their large nests in hollowed-out trees, on the side of buildings, in old bee hives, or even inside homes. Because they live closer or even in residential properties, these pests can significantly harm homeowners. 

Yellow jacket hives tend to remain underground, with the black and yellow pests crafting winding paper cells under your lawn or backyard. Unless you notice the wasps entering and exiting their below-ground homes, you may accidentally step on their front doorstep!

Their different nesting locations can help you understand what infestation you have on your property. While neither insect is better or worse to have nesting in your yard, it’s vital to know what you’re dealing with. 

Locating the site of a wasp hive can help you avoid getting stung and give you an idea of what spot in your yard you should avoid. Underground and tree nests are hard to spot, so always be mindful of where you go whenever wasps populate your yard. 

Hornet vs. Yellow Jacket Removal

So, what different measures should you take to eliminate these pests on your property?

While many DIY solutions are helpful in a pinch, we don’t recommend you try dealing with wasps on your own. Yellow jacket and hornet infestations are no joke; these pests will cause injury without proper protection. 

Because of their territorial nature and large population, there isn’t an easy way for homeowners to handle yellow jacket and hornet hives. One wrong move could bring hundreds of these wasps out in droves. 

Liquid and powder pesticides work in theory, but these options are better left to the professionals. Trained pest technicians know how to remove active wasp hives without endangering themselves, you, or your home. 

Instead of trying homemade methods, we suggest contacting a reputable pest agency like Zunex Pest Control! Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

Schedule Today!

Contact your local Zunex pest expert to schedule a treatment today!