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German Yellowjacket (Vespula germanica)

German yellowjackets are a non-native species in the U.S. They are notorious scavengers for protein and sweets, and aggressive defenders of their nests.

Geographic Region

German yellowjackets are found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern U.S., as well as in Washington state and southern California.

Natural Habitat

German yellowjacket nests are primarily found in structures such as retaining walls and building voids.

Weather Conditions

German yellowjacket colonies get established in warm, dry weather. The nests become large and usually persist into fall -- sometimes continuing into a second year in warmer climates.


German yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and are attracted to sugary foods. They are frequent pests around trash cans and picnics. German yellowjackets are more likely to be found near human activity, and therefore present more of a stinging hazard.

Unique Characteristics

German yellowjackets are black and yellow; the abdomen usually has a small spade-shaped black mark on the first abdominal segment, and black spots down both sides of the abdomen.