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Ground Hornet Control: Protect Your Home


What Do Ground Hornets Look Like?
Size: Workers usually measure around 1/2 an inch in length while queens typically grow a little longer than 2/3 of an inch.

Color: Ground hornets appear yellow and black.

Characteristics: Each species of yellow jacket has a defining pattern of black and yellow on the abdomen that aids scientists and pest control specialists in identification.

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  • Classified according to their nesting habits, yellow jackets and hornets typically fall into one of two categories: aerial or ground-nesting.
  • In the Mid-Atlantic states, the downy yellow jacket (Vespula flavopilosa), German yellow jacket (Vespula germanica), and eastern yellow jacket (Vespula maculifrons) all pose dangers to residents.
  • While these species of ground hornets most frequently nest in the earth, colonies can infiltrate attics and wall voids as well.


What Do Ground Hornets Eat?

Both scavengers and hunters, ground hornets eat:

  • Carrion
  • Fruit
  • Honeydew
  • Insects
  • Other arthropods
  • Sugary beverages
  • Garbage


Most species of ground-nesting yellow jackets reach peak activity around September and October. Queens emerge from protected overwintering sites around May and early June.

Colony Location
Once the queen picks a suitable location for establishing a new colony, such as in forest floors, rock walls, creek beds, residential lawns, or wall voids and attics, she settles in, reproduces, and starts tending the young.

The first set of workers typically matures by mid- to late-June and relieves the queen of any non-childbearing duties.

Male drones, as well as new queens, are produced in late summer or early fall. The drones mate with the young queens and then die. Fertilized, the queens then search for a location to overwinter and start the cycle anew.


  • Near Food: May notice adult ground hornets foraging for food from early June to late September.
  • Holes: Look for openings in the ground that are frequented by adult hornets.
  • Stings: Residents of infested areas may be stung.

Problems Caused by Ground Hornets

  • Predators: In general, ground yellow jackets are beneficial because they target and prey on other pest insects.
  • Allergies: However, they become a potential medical problem when allergic individuals live in close proximity to established nests.
  • Damage: If colonies build their nests in attics or wall voids, structural damage becomes a real possibility.

Signs of Infestation

  • Presence: Ground-nesting hornets are capable of harmless coexistence with humans, but this occasionally leads to the accidental disruption of the colony.
  • In the Yard: As nests are frequently positioned partly or completely in the ground, homeowners may first encounter infestations when mowing the lawn.
  • Food: Other outdoor activities, such as grilling or picnicking, may also lead to the discovery of nearby incursions as adult hornets scavenge for food.
  • Sight: Additionally, the gray and papery yellow jacket nests may be partially visible in lawns or attics.

Prevention Tips

Preventing ground hornets mostly involves modifying the environment of the home and yard to make it less attractive to the insects’ food sources.

This entails things like:

  • Cracks: Sealing any cracks in the foundation
  • Screens: Replacing broken door and window screens
  • Foliage: Keeping shrubs and trees trimmed so the foliage does not touch or hang over the house
  • Drainage: Ensuring all drainage flows away from the home and lawn

Tips for Removal from Home

Is it necessary?
Unless allergies are an issue, or if they are nesting in a high traffic area, ground hornet removal is not normally necessary.

Call an expert
However, people who feel uncomfortable living around a ground hornet infestation should contact a pest control professional to help eradicate the problem.

Attempting to deal with nests without the proper protective gear and know-how is a dangerous job best left to specialists with the right equipment and experience.

Call for service: (800) 768-6109

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