Yellow jackets: There are several species of concealed-nesting yellow jackets. At least eight species live in our area. These nest mostly in the ground but will nest in walls, under the house, in soffits, attics, bulkheads, etc. The three species most commonly found in western Washington are Vespula Vulgaris (common yellow jacket ) which usually nests in the ground but will nest anywhere they can find a void. Vespula Pensylvanica (western yellow jacket) which also nests in the ground and any void it can find and Vespula Germanica (german yellow jacket) which are usually found in walls and attic voids. The german yellow jacket and the western yellow jacket are the ones that try to take your food and make outdoor life a challenge. They are known for nesting in walls or ceiling areas and sometimes chew their way into the house.
The five concealed-nesting yellow jacket species that are not common are Vespula consobrina (black jackets), Vespula atropilosa (prairie yellow jacket), Vespula atropilosa-xanthic, Vespula acadica and Vespula acadica-xanthic. V. consobrina ( black jackets) are black and white (they have no yellow) and are often mistaken for bald-faced hornets. They start their nest in May and June and are generally over by August or September. The combs and insects on the left are Vespula atropilosa(prairie yellow jacket). All five species have small nests in comparison to the other three species more commonly found.
This picture shows the start of a common yellow jacket nest. The queen makes the paper envelope inside she builds the first cells to lay eggs in.
At left is a common yellow jacket nest. They are almost always a light brown color and the paper is laid down in scallop-type fashion. The German and the western yellow jacket also have the scallop look to the paper nest but theirs is almost always a gray color.
Here a common yellow jacket nest that was built inside a closet and on this broom.
The nest at left was made by the western yellow jacket Vespula pensylvanica.
Each species has a different pattern to the markings on their abdomen. The one on the left is v. acadica the one on the right is v. acadica-xanthic
The yellow jackets pictured here are (from left to right) V. pensylvanica, V. germanica, V. consobrina and V. atropilosa- xanthic.
These are V. consobrina (black jackets) on a nest that was built inside a well house.
Left is the entrance hole of V. atropilosa (prairie yellow jacket).