Yellow jacket nests are made of cellulose or paper that is chewed up by the insects themselves and then formed into cells. These cells house the yellow jacket larvae. As the larvae hatch and grow, they build on to the nest. Eventually, the nest will house thousands of cells covered by many layers of paper.
Yellow jackets typically build their nests in the ground. The queen, who has survived the winter, will begin to build a nest from paper, or cellulose material that she has chewed up into a paste. The yellow jacket queen will then lay eggs in the cells that she has built.
The first yellow jacket eggs to hatch are those of the workers. As the workers mature, the queen continues to care for the remaining larvae, building onto the nest. Eventually, the workers take over all duties of the queen except for reproduction.
A standard yellow jacket nest will average 1,000 to 4,000 workers at its peak. The nests are often built in crevices, such as under porches or in nooks of trees. However, a yellow jacket nest can be built anywhere it chooses.
How Big Does a Yellow Jacket Nest Get?
Massive yellow jacket nests have also been found. In fact, one nest was the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. These nests can house over 100,000 workers. Yellow jacket nests of this size have been found in abandoned barns, cars and fields.
If you encounter a yellow jacket nest of any size, do not attempt to remove it yourself.
Call a pest control professional to assist you, as it can be very dangerous.