(Enlarged to show detail) This wasp accounts for about 90% of all stings from the wasp family. Yellow jackets are easily distinguished from bees because they have very few body hairs. The queens start a new colony in the early springtime. Queens prefer to build underground nests and will take advantage of abandoned rodent burrows. Colonies can quickly build up to over 10,000 members in just one summer.
Hornets will rarely sting unless repeatedly threatened near the nest. The queens build new aerial nests every spring. Like yellowjackets, workers will increase the nest size with papery cells and feed larvae. Nests are generally attached to trees or bushes, but they can also be found on structures. Sometimes hornet nests can be found under eaves and other building overhangs. Sometimes hornets are attracted to ripening fruit be sure to dispose of any fallen fruits on the ground to minimize hornets in an area.
The adult Paper Wasps are more slender than yellow jackets or hornets and often have long legs dangling during flight. Paper wasps have a very distinct waist and appear smooth or hairless. Paper wasps are typically dark brown, orange or red in color, or can be banded with yellow and black. Paper wasps build open-cell nests in protected areas. The open cells are not covered with a papery envelope like with hornets. Overwintering queens will start new nests on almost any structure or small cavity, including trees, rocks, wood, playground equipment, and buildings. Reducing queens and small nests early in the spring will prevent large colonies from building up.