Yellow jackets are one of the top summertime fears. As an educator, I am asked all the time if we could just get rid of them. But that would be a bad idea, because they have an important role in the environment. But what is that role? How are yellow jackets benefiting their ecosystem?
Yellow jackets are a type of wasp native to North America and are easily recognizable with their yellow and black stripes. They are nest-building insects, which actually plays a role in making them aggressive (and why we don’t like them so much). Nest-building bees and wasps that live in colonies with queens are more likely to sting. But only the females can sting you - and they only do it to protect the hive and the queen from intruders and threats. Solitary bees like mason bees that don’t have a hive to protect are unlikely to sting in defense.