Paper wasps and yellowjackets are often confused with one another but there are major differences.

Cheryl E Preston

YellowjacketPhoto byWikipedia screenshot

It's that time of year again

The Virginia Museum of History suggests that it's time to prepare for the onslaught of stinging insects that will invade during the spring and summer. My middle grandson told me today that the bees are out but what he was seeing was not actually bumble bees. It's common in this neck of the woods for people to lump the stinking varmints together and two such pests that often are included under the bee umbrella are the paper wasp and the yellowjacket (also yellow jacket).
Yellowjacket nestPhoto byWikipedia screenshot

Bees are distinctively different

Bees are bigger and rounder than other similar insects and can only sting once. Wasps and hornets can repeatedly sting until you pull the insect out of your skin. The stinger can possibly remain under the skin and continue delivering venom to the bloodstream until you remove them from your body. In Virginia, people often say yellowjacket and wasp as if they are two separate insects but a yellow jacket is a wasp.
Paper wasp in it's nestPhoto byWikipedia screenshot

Is it a paper wasp or a yellowjacket?

Yellowjackets and one type of paper wasp are both yellow and black and appear identical to the naked eye but the paper wasp is thinner at the waist. There is also another distinctive difference between the two. A yellowjacket nest will be found underneath the ground, in a wall, or in the hollow of a tree. The paper wasp nest is cone-shaped, upside down, and above ground. These are the ones you might find hanging from your porch or over a doorway. Keep these things in mind and be careful to avoid these insects if possible.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

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