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 like the Eastern yellowjacket Vespula maculifrons and the Saxon wasp Dolichovespula saxonica; some are black and white like the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata.
Others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, rapid, side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging. Despite having drawn the fear and loathing of humans, yellow jackets are in fact important predators of pest insects.