Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Yellow Jacket Population 2003
Name: Martha H.
Status: other
Age: 60s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 10/1/2003

I have a question about Yellow Jackets. Are they more abundant this year? If so, why? Also, how does a homeowner control them inside the house and out? I am in Greenville, Michigan.

Yellow jackets are typically abundant in late summer and early fall. I have not seen any thing in NE Illinois to indicate they are more numerous this year than others, but it may be different in your area. Only the queen overwinters and the hive numbers build up over the warm months until they peak in early fall. There are two common species, a native American one that nests in the ground, and a European ("German") species that typically nests in crevices or other openings in buildings. You can spray into the opening that they go in and out, with an over-the-counter commercial wasp and hornet spray. Spray after dark when the insects are all inside - they do not fly at night. It may take several sprays to kill them, as the nest may actually be some distance from the opening. A powdered insecticide called "sevin" can be placed at the opening so that when the insects land they pick it up on their feet and carry it into the nest, which can be very effective if the situation allows proper placement. If they get inside the house its probably best to use a good old fly swatter or the like, or open a window and shoo them out if that is possible. If they can get inside the house from the nest, they may well try to escape that way if you spray so be careful. Yellow jackets, while very annoying to people, do serve a useful ecological function - they are primarily scavengers, one of the host of creatures that help "clean up" the outside world.

J. Elliott

Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory