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Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa)

If you hear of a yellowjacket nest reaching the size of a small car, it’s usually the nest of the Southern yellowjacket.
 

Geographic Region

Southern yellowjackets are found from the midwest to the East Coast, and south to Texas and Florida.
 

Natural Habitat

Southern yellowjacket nests are likely to be found in urban and suburban areas, such as yards, parks and roadsides. Most nests are subterranean, but some nests of Southern yellowjackets have been reported in aerial locations and wall voids of houses.
 

Weather Conditions

Entire colonies of Southern yellowjackets -- not just the queen -- can survive the winter in warmer climates.
 

Behavior

Since Southern yellowjacket colonies are typically large -- with several thousands of workers -- disturbing a nest can result in swarming. Since nests are usually found in urban and recreational areas, there is a greater risk of stings and surprise encounters. Southern yellowjackets will scavenge for protein and sugary foods, and may be pests around trash cans and picnics.
 

Unique Characteristics

The body of the Southern yellowjacket is smooth black with yellow markings on the head, thorax and abdomen.