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Common Yellowjacket (Vespula alascensis)

Common yellowjackets are both familiar... and feared.

Geographic Region

Common yellowjackets are found in all the western states, throughout the northern states of the Eastern U.S. and the adjoining areas of Canada, throughout western Canada, and in Alaska.

Natural Habitat

Nests of common yellowjackets are typically constructed in logs, rotting stumps, and in the soil. They are also commonly found in between the walls of structures.

Weather Conditions

Common yellowjackets, like most species, get established and thrive in hot, dry weather.


Common yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and are attracted to meats and sugary foods. They are often pests around trash cans, picnics and barbecues. Common yellowjackets are a stinging hazard if agitated while scavenging, or if the nest is disturbed.

Unique Characteristics

Common yellowjackets are large, with bright yellow and black bands along the body and an obvious “waist” between the thorax and abdomen. Nests of common yellowjackets are very brittle and are red to tannish-brown in color.