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Yellowjackets are frequently and mistakenly called bees, but they are in fact part of the wasp family. Workers yellowjackets are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies and lack the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry pollen.

Yellowjackets have a lance-like stinger with small barbs and typically sting repeatedly. Occasionally, the stinger becomes lodged in the victim’s skin and pulls free of the wasp’s body. The venom is primarily only dangerous to those who are allergic, unless a victim receives a large number of stings.

Nests are built in trees, shrubs, or in protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, in sheds, under porches, and eaves of houses), or in soil cavities, mouse burrows, and such. Nests are made from wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp.