These social wasps live in colonies which number thousands of individuals. These beneficial insects would not anger or threaten us except that they have adapted themselves to living very closely with us. They take advantage of us by sometimes nesting in the wall voids and attics of our homes where they can go unnoticed all season.
They leave the nest area flying outdoors in search for food. However, in the fall, when food becomes scarce and the temperature outdoors cools, they frequently find their way into the living areas of the home. Then they have become a health threat to the home’s occupants and most be controlled.
The yellow jackets and hornets belong to the family Vespidae. The yellow jackets are in the subfamily Vespinae. They consist of four genera: “Provespa, Vespa, Vespula and Dolichovespula.” In the north temperate zone, wasps undergo an annual cycle. Only queens mated in the fall survive. They spend the winter in protected places such as under bark, stones, shingles and in abandoned rodent nests.
In the spring, these queens establish a colony laying from 10 to 20 eggs. Since there are no workers present to help her raise her brood she alone has the burden of foraging for food, feeding the young and collecting wood from which she manufacturers the paper use in nest construction. With the production of these first brood of workers, the queen gives up all her duties except that of egg laying. She remains in the nest and the workers forage for food and wood, feed the young and enlarge, repair and defend the nest.