Native to North Carolina is the Southern yellow jacket. They are named “yellow jacket” for the yellow and black color pattern. The queen of the Southern yellow jacket is different looking than her workers because she is very large (bigger than one inch) and predominately orange with black markings.
Yellow jackets typically have annual colonies and inseminated queens are the only individuals to overwinter. Most pest species of yellowjackets (except baldfaced hornets) are primarily ground nesters. Ground nests can be found in yards, gardens, flower beds, pastures, and roadside embankments. Aeral nests are typically constructed in trees, under eaves, in wall voids of buildings or in storage sheds.
In general, yellowjackets are beneficial insects because they kill numerous flies, caterpillars, beetle larvae, and other arthropod pests. However, because of their stinging ability and propensity to nest in or near residential and recreational areas, they can be hazardous to people and animals. Each yellowjacket can inflict numerous painful stings, which often result in painful swelling and subsequent itching. At least 15 to 20 persons are reported to die each year in the United States as a result of anaphylactic shock following Yellowjacket stings. A single sting from an alarmed yellowjacket can excite other yellowjackets to attack.
Pyrethroids are among the most effective chemicals when treating a yellowjacket nest. Underground colonies are easily killed by treating the entrance holes with a dust or aerosol. Aerial nests can be treated by direct stream spray into the entrance hole of the next.