It's a beautiful late, summer day and you have your heart set on getting a few chores done around the house before you spend the rest of the day relaxing in the sunshine with a nice cool drink. Just as you reach down to start the mower you notice a nickel size whole in the ground with one or two black and yellow insects flying harmlessly into it. But you know without looking too closely that you have found a nest of yellow jackets right there near your house, your pets, and your kids.
The yellow jacket is identifiable by their yellow and black stripes on their abdomen and their wasp like shape. They may look relatively harmless but these wasps can give you a sting that you won't soon forget. Like all wasps, they can sting multiple times making them a much more formidable foe if you are unlucky enough to have an allergy to their venom. The sting of a yellow jacket can cause so much more than pain and redness if you are allergic including hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, even anaphylactic shock and death.
The yellow jacket is a social insect usually living in colonies of around 4000. They will generally prefer to nest in the ground, sometimes in an abandoned animal habitat, but they have also been known to build their papery nests in attics, under the eaves and in sheds. They are very territorial, especially during the late summer when their nest is full of hungry youngsters that haven't found their own place yet. It is the most dangerous time to be confronted with a full nest as they will sting when they feel threatened.
For your own safety it is suggested that you should remove trash frequently and keep trashcans covered to try to discourage yellow jackets. It is important to make sure that your window screens are not damaged to prevent them from entering your home. It is also a good idea to avoid sweet perfume as yellow jackets are attracted to it.
Never try to eradicate a nest of yellow jackets or any other stinging insect on your own. The best thing to do is to call your local pest professional. They have the specialized equipment to be able to remove the threat efficiently and safely, bringing the peace of a warm summer day back to your yard.