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Yellow Jackets populations peak in late spring and summer months, the yellow jackets’ normal insect diet disappears and their feeding habits become a problem to man. At this time of year, the yellow jacket has an appetite for much the same food and drink as those consumed by man. Also, yellow jacket stings can result in a life-threatening situation, especially if the person is allergic to yellow jacket venom.
The yellow jacket worker is about ˝ inch long and has alternating yellow and black bands on the abdomen. Foraging yellow jackets are often mistaken for honey bees by the untrained eye because of their similar appearance and the fact that they are sometimes attracted to the same food source. Honey bees are slightly larger than yellow jackets and are covered with hair or setae which are absent on yellow jackets. Foraging honey bees can be identified by the pollen baskets on the rear legs that are often loaded with a ball of yellow or green pollen. The yellow jacket has a smooth stinger that can be used to sting multiple times, whereas the honey bee has a barbed stinger than can be used to sting only once.