Actual Size: ½” to 1”

Characteristics: Black or dark brown, usually with yellow markings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Paper carton nests made up of chewed cellulose found in the ground, eaves, or attics


  • Can nest either underground or above ground
  • Live in big colonies with up to 4,000 workers
  • Most active and aggressive in late summer when colony populations peak

Yellowjackets in Puerto Rico

Found throughout the nation, yellowjackets are the most known wasp. They are very common in summer months here in Ponce and San Juan. For the most part, these wasps play an important part in our environment. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans, were it not for their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics and cavities associated with landscaping features. Adult yellowjackets feed mainly on fruit juices and other sweet liquid materials, whereas their larvae are fed bits of soft-bodied insects like caterpillars and flies.

Yellowjacket Habitat

Yellowjackets can be divided into ground nesters, which frequently use old rodent burrows, and aerial nesters. Above ground nests are found among the leafy branches of trees and shrubs and also on structures. Occasionally, the nest may be constructed on the side of a building, in wall voids, under eaves, crawlspaces and attics. The entrance of the nest is normally a hole located at the bottom. These aerial nesters don’t become scavengers in the fall, but they are extremely defensive when their nests are disturbed. They will also often hover around outdoor parks and barbecues to look for human foods when their resources become sparse.

Yellowjacket Behaviors, Threats & Dangers

Yellowjackets are slow to sting, unless their nest is threatened. They are known to be very aggressive in the late summer and fall months, which is when they’re most likely to sting. Yellowjackets can sting repeatedly. Some individuals are more sensitive than others, due to allergic reactions, and should seek medical attention when stung.

Sometimes yellowjackets living in wall voids chew their way through the drywall and enter the structure’s living space. Naturally, the presence of large numbers of wasps flying around the room can be alarming to homeowners. If you notice a nest being formed on or near your property, always contact your local wasp control experts for help.