Yellow jacket or yellow-jacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as “wasps” in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black-and-yellow; some are black-and-white (such as the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata), while others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, small size (similar to a honey bee), their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging which can cause pain to the person that has been stung. Yellowjackets are important predators of pest insects.
The yellow jacket’s most visible place in American culture is as the mascot of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Black Hills State University, Montana State University Billings, University of Rochester, Berkeley High School (Berkeley, California), Cedarville University, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Randolph-Macon College, Defiance College, Graceland University, and Baldwin-Wallace College. The NHL franchise of Columbus, Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets, formerly used a secondary logo featuring a “blue jacket” insect, based on the yellow jacket. This fictional “blue jacket” resembles a yellow jacket wearing a blue Civil War uniform.