Considering how painful yellow jacket stings are, and how often they disrupt cookouts, it’s easy to hate them and wonder if yellow jackets are good for anything. It turns out these yellow-and-black annoyances do a lot of good.
Are Yellow Jackets Beneficial Insects?
Yellow jackets are a type of wasp. While they’re unwelcome guests at backyard barbecues, tailgating, etc. they help gardeners a great deal, whether the person knows it or not.
Yellow jackets assist with pollination, though because they aren’t fuzzy like honey bees or bumblebees, they aren’t very efficient at it. Yellow jackets are most beneficial to gardeners because of their eating habits, not their interest in flowers. In fact, in spring and early summer they’re more likely to be crawling in foliage than visiting flowers.
What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?
While yellow jackets are attracted to plant nectar and sweet items – which explains why they go after your sugary drinks and desserts – they need protein in the larval stage so yellow jackets hunt other insects and bring them back to the colony for the young. That’s why yellow jackets in a yard benefit gardeners.
Yellow jackets eat various annoying insects like flies, beetle grubs, cabbage worms, aphids, crickets and other insects that attack crops. They also eat spiders, which is more of a mixed issue since spiders also eat pests, though some spiders are quite dangerous. Yellow jackets will also eat caterpillars but before you accuse them of being butterfly killers realize that caterpillars also turn into annoying moths, not just pretty butterflies.
Another way yellow jackets help the environment – they eat already dead bugs. That might not sound important, but experts know that it is… so thank yellow jackets for why your yard doesn’t fill up with dead bugs. Whether capturing live or dead insects, it’s estimated that yellow jackets consume more than two pounds of bugs from a 2,000-square-foot yard.
Yellow jacket activity around outdoor trashcans, cookouts, carnivals, etc. increases in the late summer and early fall because the bugs they ate earlier in the season are scarcer and they need to look for alternative food sources. That’s when they start going after your sugary drinks and leftovers. Yellow jackets are actually quite intelligent and learn. For example, they’ll only visit the picnic area of a park in the afternoon if that’s when food is around and skip it in the morning before the park opens because they recognize the pattern.
Most outdoor eaters fear having a yellow jacket crawl into their drink, especially dark cans of soda where they can’t be seen, and then getting stung when the person tries to drink their beverage unaware it has gathered insects. How can you avoid that? Don’t bring sugary drinks outside but if you do, keep them covered.
Found Yellow Jackets? Call Arrow!
While yellow jackets can be a benefit to your garden and the ecosystem at large, the location of a nest can make them dangerous to you and your family. Call Arrow Exterminating to first confirm whether it is a yellow jacket, something harmless or something even more dangerous. Then the experts at Arrow will discuss the right solution with you. To get started, contact Arrow Exterminating today.