Every year they show up. A nuisance that can’t be ignored. Yellow Jackets and Paper Wasps. To many people they appear the same, but there are key differences.
Yellow Jackets, sometimes called, “Meat Bees,” build their nests in cavities such as gopher burrows, hollows in trees and buildings and other places, such as rock walls. They are aggressive and will attack readily, with little provocation to defend themselves and their nests. Paper wasps, on the other hand, are fairly docile and attacks on humans are rare. They can become a problem, however, when they build their familiar, umbrella shaped paper nests near the entrances of structures used by humans.
Another social wasp which many of us are familiar with is the Bald-Faced Hornet. A cousin of the Yellow Jacket, this wasp is somewhat larger than the Yellow Jacket and Paper Wasp and is black and white in color. The colony builds the familiar oval shaped nest, which hangs from a tree, shrub or structure. Unlike the paper wasp, the Bald-Faced is prone to attacking to defend its colony, so respect and caution is warranted.
The Mud Dauber Wasp, though somewhat menacing in appearance poses a negligible threat to humans. Mud daubers are black and yellow, thread-waisted, solitary wasps that build a hard mud nest, usually on ceilings and walls, attended by a single female wasp. They are not social wasps but may be confused with them. They do not defend their nests and rarely sting. You can safely remove the nests without spraying.
If you must control wasps yourself caution is the order of the day with most species; particularly with Yellow Jackets. Use a product registered for control of the target insect. Treatment should be done during a time when temperatures are low and the insects are somewhat lethargic, such as early morning. Follow label directions exactly. All that being said, control of wasps, especially Yellow Jackets, is best left to the professionals.