Yellow Jackets are the generic name for all types of yellow and black striped wasps. These include actual yellow jackets and common paper wasps.
The main difference between the two in appearance is that a paper wasp has a much slender waist than the stocky waist of the yellow jacket. Nesting wise, yellow jackets nest underground, are are sometimes called ground bees, while paper wasps commonly nest beneath branches or underneath eves. Their nests are made in an umbrella-like shape, and because of that, these wasps are also known as umbrella wasps.
Yellow jackets prefer abandoned rodent holes as nests. However, virtually any hole that will accommodate multiple comb layers will do. They are difficult to see, and many times a person will step on or near a nest, get stung and not know where it came from. They particularly like areas of bare ground.
These nests are easy to spot under overhangs. They will widen out at the bottom as they grow, and in trees, they take on a fully formed oblong “beehive” shape. Although not as aggressive as yellow jackets, if their nests are disturbed, they will attack and sting.