Yellow Jacket vs Wasp: What’s the Difference?

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Yellowjackets and wasps are generally thought to be the same bug. However, this is a big blunder. This expert guide – Yellow Jacket vs. wasp will take you through the various characteristic differences between the two types of bugs and will walk you through the best ways two avoid both.

What is a wasp?

wasps jacket yellow vs yellowjacket

Wasp is the common name for a large group of insects in the family Vespidae. There are many different types of hornets, but they all share some common characteristics.

They are all terrestrial and build nests out of paper or mud. Furthermore, they play an essential role in the ecosystem by helping to control populations of other insects.

Wasps are a type of insect that is known for their distinctive black and yellow coloring. They are also known as parasitoids, which means their young ones eat other insects or spiders alive.

Social wasps are a type of hornet that live in colonies. They can be considered garden pests because they can be annoying, and their nests can be unsightly, but they actually play an important part in the ecosystem.

Their nests provide homes for other beneficial insects, and they help to pollinate plants by acting as pollinators.

Wasps can be dangerous, particularly if they are disturbed, so it is important to know the difference between them and other types of insects such as yellow jackets.

What is a yellow jacket?

yellow jacket vs wasp

A yellow jacket is a predatory insect that is found in North America. They are known for their characteristic yellow and black coloring, as well as their aggressive behavior. Yellowjackets build large nests to house the colony, which can be quite dangerous if disturbed.

Yellowjackets are black with yellow markings on the front of the head and yellow banding around the abdomen. The face is primarily yellow with dark eyes. The front wings of Vespidae are folded lengthwise when at rest.

Yellowjackets are wasps that are easily mistaken for honey bees because of their size, shape, and coloration. They can be distinguished from the other types of wasps by their bright yellow and black markings.

Yellow jacket vs wasp

A lot of people do not know or understand the difference between yellowjacket and wasps, and thus it is essential to look at the key differentiating points between the two.

The Paper Wasp is Larger

The Paper Wasp is a type of wasp that is larger than the Yellow Jacket. They are both types of insects in the Hymenoptera order, but the Paper Wasp is typically bigger.

The Paper Wasp has a clearly defined head, mesosoma, and metasoma. Additionally, they have yellow and black markings on their bodies.

Yellow Jackets have Darker Wings.

Yellowjackets and paper wasps are two common types of stinging wasps. They both are capable of giving nasty stings, but there are some key differences between the two.

One difference is that yellowjackets have darker wings than paper wasps.

The wings of yellowjackets are translucent but with dark brown veins running throughout. Yellowjackets are typically darker in color than paper wasps.

The Wasps are Slightly Different in Color

The yellowjackets and wasps are both types of stinging insects. They are identical in various ways, but there are a few key differences. The most obvious difference is their color- the yellowjackets are mostly black and yellow, while the wasps can be black, white, or brown.

Additionally, the nests of the two species look different- the yellowjacket nests are more football-shaped, while the wasp nests are more cylindrical. Finally, while both species can sting humans, only the female wasps can sting repeatedly.

You can see Paper Wasps’ Legs when they Fly.

If you see Paper Wasps’ legs, it’s likely that they are flying around. This is because their legs are long and slender, which gives them more stability in the air. The same does not happen in the case of yellow jackets.

Yellow Jackets Nest Underground

Yellowjackets typically nest underground, while wasps will build their nests above ground, often on structures like houses or sheds. If you step on the nest of a yellow jacket, they will swarm out and sting you in defense of their territory.

Paper Wasps are More Likely to be Found in the Garden

These wasps are more likely to be found in the yard than yellow jackets. They are beneficial to the garden because they help to kill pests.

They are fond of meat and sweet smells and might be found buzzing around your picnic table at the local park. Yellowjackets, on the other hand, are more likely to be found in urban areas near human activity.

Yellow Jackets are Aggressive

Yellowjackets are a type of wasp that is known for being aggressive towards humans. They can be dangerous if they feel threatened and will often sting people who they perceive as a threat.

They can be a nuisance, particularly in the summertime when they swarm around food and drink.

The wasps are not as aggressive as yellow jackets and are less likely to sting you.

Why should you know the difference?

There are many different types of insects, and knowing the difference between them is important. This is because different insects can pose different threats or problems.

For example, wasps and yellow jackets are two types of stinging insects. Knowing the difference between them can help you prevent an attack or deal with one if it happens.

Knowing the right difference between a yellow jacket and a wasp is important for safety reasons as well. If you are allergic to either one of the two bugs, you should take care when around them.

Yellowjackets are social insects that prefer to live in colonies, while wasps are solitary, and differences such as these will help you identify between these insects.

Why Do Wasps and Yellow Jackets Chase You?

Both types of bugs will both chase you when they feel their nests are in danger. This is a defense mechanism that assists protect the colony from potential threats.

When wasps and yellow jackets feel threatened, they step up their defensive game and do everything required to remove the threat from the vicinity of the nest or to escape – including stinging you.

Both species will sting humans if they feel threatened, but the venom of a yellow jacket sting is more potent. Additionally, wasps are not as aggressive as yellow jackets and will generally only sting humans if they’re provoked.

Yellowjackets, on the other hand, have been known to chase people who run away from them. This is because when you run away, you create more movement, which looks like an attack on the wasp.

How to Identify a Wasp Nest?

paper wasps hornet dog nest

Wasp nests come in all shapes and sizes. The size of a nest can range from a golf ball to the size of a small vehicle. It is essential to be capable of identifying a wasp nest, as they can be dangerous.

The easiest way to identify a wasp nest is by looking for the combs. Wasp nests are often exposed, and you can see the combs quite easily.

Wasps are territorial and will sting humans if they feel threatened. So, unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to just leave them alone.

If you do see a wasp nest, try to stay calm and avoid making any sudden movements that may startle the wasps. And whatever you do, never bother or touch a wasp nest!

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket Nest?

animals bees yellowjackets bite eat

Yellowjacket nests are easy to identify, as they will be near the ground, and you will see a large hole where the wasps have been digging.

When you are out and about during the warmer months, it is important to be able to identify a yellow jacket nest. If you see a hole in the ground that’s about the size of a quarter, be careful not to step on or near it, as there is likely a yellow jacket nest located nearby.

Lawnmowers and other vibrations can also disturb the yellow jacket colony and cause them to sting humans.

What to Do if you are being chased by a Wasp?

If you are being chased by a wasp, the best thing to do is simply standstill. Wasp venom is not as potent as yellow jacket venom, and they will usually only sting humans if they feel threatened. Suppose you are near their nest, back away slowly and quietly.

Generally, wasps will fly away if they are left alone. They typically won’t venture more than 50-100 feet from their nests. However, if a wasp is chasing you, try to get inside and close the door.

What to Do if you are being chased by a Yellow Jacket?

Yellowjackets are known to be very territorial and will often chase people if they feel their space is being invaded.

In case you are being chased by a yellow jacket, it is best to stay calm and do not try to fight the wasp. You should also avoid entering any buildings, as the yellow jacket might chase you inside.

How to Avoid Attracting Wasps and Yellow Jackets

There are certain things you can undertake to avoid attracting wasps and yellow jackets to your home:

  • Make sure your home is kept clean and free of food sources.
  • Keep your garden tidy and free of debris that could provide a food source for wasps or yellow jackets.
  • Ensure that all windows are sealed to keep out drafts and remove any flowerpots or other objects that could provide nesting sites for wasps or yellow jackets.

Some additional pointers to keep in mind are –

Don’t Leave Food Out.

Bugs, such as yellow jackets and wasps, are attracted to food. If you leave food out or in your home, they will be more likely to come and invade your space. It is important to take precautions and keep your food safe from these pests.

There are many types of bugs, but two of the most common pests in North America are yellow jackets and wasps. Both of these insects like to eat rotting food, so it is important to make sure to cover any leftovers or put them in the fridge.

Seal Trash Cans

Amongst the best ways to prevent wasps and other insects from invading your home is the method of keeping your trash cans tightly sealed. This will help to keep the pests out and stop them from building nests in or around your trash.

Don’t Wear Bright Colors or Perfume.

Insects like wasps, bees, and yellow jackets are attracted to bright colors and sweet perfume. So if you’re going outside, it’s best to avoid wearing brightly-colored clothes or putting on any type of fragrance.


A bite from either of these two types of bugs is not a walk in the park and can much rather be highly painful. And thus, it is necessary to have the requisite knowledge about the two types of bugs so that you are well aware of what you are dealing with and how to deal with it.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.