Difference Between Yellow Jacket and Wasp

Yellow Jacket vs Wasp

It could mostly be difficult to understand the particular distinction of wasps from another group of wasps. That is because the yellow jackets are a group of wasps, and especially they being referred as wasps in certain countries other than the United States. Despite these disparities in naming or referring, there are good enough differences between wasps and yellow jackets based on their characteristics. This article intends to discuss those interesting variations to clarify the problematic naming confusions.

Yellow Jacket

Yellow jackets are primarily the members of the Family: Vespidae in general and any species of the two particular genera known as Vespula and Dolichovespula. The name yellow jacket is more commonly used in North America to refer these hymenopterans, while the general term wasp is used in most of the other parts of the world. There are certain specialities in these insects with regard to their morphological features as well as some behavioural aspects. The yellow jacket females can be dangerous to anyone who disturbingly stay in their path, as they all have stinging apparatus attached to the ovipositors. The appearance of the yellow jackets mostly resembles that of a honeybee with small body size and yellow colour bands on the abdomen. However, they do have neither tan-brown hairs on their body nor the pollen basket on their hind legs, and those are important to notice to identify. In addition, the flying patterns could be important as an identification characteristic, because the yellow jackets start to move sideways rapidly just before landing. Yellow jackets are seriously aggressive and predatory insects; hence, they are dangerous as well as beneficial for the farmers in pest controlling. They are, in fact, very nasty attackers with the capability of stinging the prey repeatedly. However, they could be a nuisance when their prey species become scarce, as they get attracted to meaty or sugary domestic foods.


Wasps are insects of the Order: Hymenoptera and Suborder: Apocrita. There are more than 300 types of wasps and most of them are parasitic forms. Usually, all wasps are slender bodied with a distinctively narrow waist, and they have a shiny cuticle without hairs. Yellow jackets, bald faced hornets, and paper wasps are some of the most common wasps. Wasps as a whole are differently coloured across the 300 species. They have two pairs of wings, a venomous sting that could be used as a weapon, to protect themselves from their enemies. Their females have an ovipositor, which is a tube-like structure developed especially for laying eggs. Interestingly, wasps are predators of other insects, but sometimes they feed on overripe fruits and some sugary drinks, as well. They do not have a pollen basket, and their long legs are visible while their flight. Wasps have been a common problem for many people, because they build their nests around human habitation, especially inside houses. The problem with their nests is that they could be life threatening if they are being disturbed.


What is the difference between Yellow Jacket and Wasp?

• Yellow jackets are restricted to two genera only, whereas wasps in general consist of many genera.

• Wasps are comparatively larger than yellow jackets.

• The colouration of yellow jackets is much like honeybees, while not all the wasps do have such colouration pattern.

• Wasps are primarily parasitic while yellow jackets are predatory.

• Yellow jackets fly sideways rapidly just before landing while not all the wasps do that.