B. Rosie Lerner
Consumer Horticulturist


Check out Rosie's book:Possum in the Pawpaw Tree





Question and Answer

What's the Buzz about Yellow Jackets and Evergreen Trees?

yellow jacket
Yellow Jacket

Photo Credit - John Obermeyer/Purdue Entomology

Q. I have small evergreen trees planted in my yard. They are the small, slow-growing type. They are around 8 years old. Every fall the yellow jackets start swarming around them, crawling in and out of the inside of the tree. They don't seem to hurt it, but it looks like they are trying to find something - acting like a honey bee on a flower. But these have no flowers. They don't bother us as long as we don't get too close. Could you tell me why this is happening?  C.K., Shoals, Indiana

A. Our Purdue entomologists advise that yellow jackets commonly scavenge for food in the fall, and it is likely they are attracted to tree resin or sap that has some sugar content. Scavenging yellow jackets are less aggressive than are those that are protecting a nest. And you are correct; they will not harm the trees and will generally not attack unless provoked. We commend you for aiming for a peaceful coexistance!

More information can be found in the Purdue Extension publication E-44, "Social Bees and Wasps," at


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
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