Size and Appearance
Paper wasps have slender, segmented bodies with a thin waist and orange-tipped antennae.
Yellowjackets have short, thick bodies with black or black and yellow antennae.
Paper wasps are rarely aggressive but can sting if provoked. They are considered beneficial because they prey on other insects such as spiders. Paper wasps do not swarm like yellowjackets.
Paper wasps dangle their long legs when they fly.
Yellowjackets tuck their legs under their bodies when they fly.
One of the easier ways to tell paper wasps from yellowjackets is the appearance of their nests.
Paper wasp nests and yellowjacket nests are both made out of paper, but they look strikingly different. Paper wasps have smaller nests with each cell having an opening to the outside. The nests are often found under eaves or roof tiles. To prevent paper wasps around your home, look for the nests in the springtime and use a high-pressure hose to knock each nest down while it’s small. Most of the time this will discourage paper wasps.
Yellowjacket nests are enveloped with layers of paper material, usually leaving only one entrance and exit to the nest. Most yellowjacket nests in Placer County are built underground, making them difficult to locate