The list of potential pests is as long as your arm, but there’s nothing that strikes fear into your summer afternoon quite like the hum and buzz of yellow jackets. Today we will learn how to get rid of yellow jackets and keep your property safe from them.
What Are Yellow Jackets?
They are insects marked by a distinctive yellow and black striped head and thorax. Moreover, their main characteristic is an aggressive, protective nature that is unlike wasps or honey bees.
Once you see one of them floating around your backyard picnic it’s only a matter of time until you’re facing an infestation. This can potentially be a huge headache.
The good news is that there is hope and a wide range of options to help you cope with these nuisance pests and prevent them from becoming an even bigger problem.
Quick Overview – Yellow Jackets
The first step of any deterance or prevention program is understanding your enemies. Yellow jackets are insects, similar to bees but with a few key differences.
Yellow Jackets vs Honey Bees
Let’s see the key features of yellow jackets and how they differ from honey bees.
- Yellow jackets’ stingers are smooth, which means that they are able to sting repeatedly.
- Although a single sting is generally not dangerous, people with an allergy can face serious danger.
- Also, riling up a yellow jacket nest can be extremely dangerous, as the workers can swarm and sting the intruder multiple times, injecting large quantities of venom.
- This is one of the main reasons that you’ll want to take care of any potential nests before they become infestations.
- They also have a wider diet than common honey bees. They prefer sugary foods and nectar from flowers.
- Nevertheless, they are also adaptable enough to eat meat, garbage, and picnic food that’s left outside.
- Yellow jacket’s wide diets attract them to human habitation because so much of what we eat and throw away is food to them.
Yellow Jacket Nests – Home, Lawn, Garden
Because of their diet, nesting habits and nuisance status when they move in, it’s very natural to want to get rid of yellow jackets in the quickest, safest way possible.
It’s important that the solution you choose is safe for your home, your lawn or garden, and the people and pets who share your roof, as well as effective.
It’s important to be aware that yellow jackets often set up multiple colonies and infest a residence.
- Yellow jackets are known to seek dark, secluded areas in a house’s walls or foundation. This can make their nests very difficult to notice.
- These insects will commonly build nests underground, or under debris or any other structure that provides them with a secluded area.
- They seek places protected from the elements and intrusion.
Yellow Jackets’ Hiding Places
Common hiding places include:
- old, rotted logs,
- cracks or holes in the ground or pavement,
- areas under steps or porches on a house,
- and even near the base of trees.
This can mean several hiding places, and several potential nests, on your property.
Keep in mind that an underground nest can even be disturbed by the vibrations of footsteps, power mowers or bouncing balls (such as a basketball or tennis court).
Nothing can bring a family picnic to a screeching halt like a cloud of angry yellow jackets swarming out from under the porch after a soccer ball gets kicked back there accidentally!
Yellow Jacket Sting Treatment
Photo Credit: Healthline
The yellow jacket stings can be very painful. The fact that they can sting you multiple times without their stinger pulling out means that you’re likely to be stung more than once, even by a single insect.
- If you’re aware of a previous allergies to bee stings, or you have several allergies, watch closely for any difficulty breathing, hives, or intense swelling.
- Even if you are stung, you only have a 50/50 chance of developing a severe reaction if you are allergic, but be cautious all the same.
Let’s see now a few yellow jacket sting treatment solutions you should use as soon as possible after the sting.
Consider carrying an EpiPen around with you if you have known or suspected allergies to bee stings. This can make the difference between a severe or even fatal sting reaction.
However, if you aren’t allergic, you can easily treat the sting site with a cold compress, such as an ice pack. Cold washcloth or even a bag of frozen vegetables work well if you don’t have anything else handy.
You can also take some Benadryl or other antihistamines to avoid any further swelling or mild allergic reaction to the sting.
Watch the sting closely for developing hives. In addition, make sure that those around you are aware that you’ve been stung, in case you develop any difficulty breathing.
Seek Emergency Medical Assistance
If hives do develop, or you experience difficulty breathing and swallowing, you should immediately seek emergency medical assistance. The reason for this is that there is a good possibility that you are allergic to bee stings. In other words, you will need medical treatment to prevent the attack from worsening.
- That said, the vast majority of people will not develop serious reactions, and a sting doesn’t have to ruin your picnic. Above all, remember to keep calm!
- Getting excited or upset can lead to the nest being further antagonized. In turn, it could cause the yellow jackets to swarm your gathering, as they are notoriously defensive of their home.
If you do get a swarm of yellow jackets at your next family meeting, gather your things as calmly as possible and head indoors.
- Avoid letting them in along with you!
- After the sun has gone down, you may want to head out and see if you can locate the nest, which we’ll talk about next.
How to Identify a Yellow Jacket Infestation
Spotting a Lone Yellow Jacket
So how do you tell if you have a yellow jackets infestation on your hands?
- Often times you will see lone workers buzzing around common food sources.
- Such sources include usually flower beds or gardens in the early summer or late spring. You can also consider garbage cans, dumpsters, or bird feeders (especially the sugar water in hummingbird feeders).
- Also, you can find yellow jackets anywhere food is outdoors, such as picnics, food trucks, or even compost piles.
Make Sure It’s Not a Honey Bee
Once you see a single yellow jacket, you can bet that there’s a nest nearby.
Make sure that you distinguish a yellow jacket from a traditional honey bee though.
Honey bees are very beneficial insects, and are not nearly as aggressive as yellow jackets.
- The latter are much less hairy than bees, although they share a similar yellow and black marking pattern.
- This can help differentiate them from other types of wasps.
- Also, honey bees don’t generally frequent food sources that don’t include sugars or pollens.
Look for its Nest Nearby
Once you’ve identified the yellow jacket, you’ll want to try to safely locate the nearby nest and check for additional colonies in the area.
Take care when looking for the nests!
- Alerting the nest to your presence can cause them to consider you a threat and swarm.
- Try to determine where the yellow jacket returns once it’s done feeding.
- If that’s not possible, look for potential hiding spots.
- Remember that they prefer the dark and seclusion. Nonetheless, they will sometimes build aerial nests on tree limbs, bushes or under the eaves of a house.
- Often they will want to build near to a food source.
- So check around flowerbeds, garbage cans and any other open source of food.
- Once you locate the nest, keep your distance and try to judge how big it is.
- Often new nests are small little honeycomb structures, usually an inch or less across the surface, with several visible openings.
- Larger nests will be about the size of a closed fist and often be orbited by several workers or guards.
- In comparison, smaller nests are often not built up fully and have smaller colony populations.
Plot Your Strategy Against the Colony
Yellow jacket nests that are underground can be very difficult to spot.
- Walk carefully and listen closely for buzzing sounds.
- Be ready to beat a retreat if you stumble over the nest on accident.
- After you locate the nest and judge its relative size and activity, it’s time to decide how you want to deal with the colony.
How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets
Photo Credit: Aces.edu
The most traditional method of getting rid of yellow jackets on your own is a can of Raid or similar bug spray.
If you find a single nest on your property, in an area where you can quickly seek shelter from any yellow jackets that don’t get sprayed, you can use a can of bug spray and blast it from a safe distance.
- Another important thing to keep in mind is to have all people and pets avoid the area until the spray has settled and dried out.
- Some sprays are formulated to be non-toxic to plant life, but most will damage any living organisms they land on.
- Therefore, before taking this option, make sure that the area is clear and secure.
- There’s also the very real danger of stings and swarming if you take them on without an effective retreat strategy.
- In any words, make sure you have a safe place to get away from any stragglers.
- Finally, make sure that you wear protective clothing (long sleeves, hats, masks, anything to cover your skin and face).
- Only try to interact with a hive at dusk when the yellow jackets are least active.
- This will greatly increase your safety and help cut down on the chance of getting stung or even swarmed.
How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets Naturally
If you are looking for a more natural, earth-friendly remedy to yellow jackets, consider buying or even making your own natural wasp killer. These remedies will get rid of yellow jackets and destroy the hive without putting down any poisonous chemicals.
You can use mint oil, which is deadly to wasps, and hot or boiling water combined in a spray bottle.
- After the sun goes down, approach the nest and spray it down.
- Make sure that it’s misting enough to cover the nest and any loose yellow jackets, but strong enough to allow you to remain at a safe distance.
- Here’s a great recipe for your own homemade yellow jacket killer, and a first hand account of its effects.
As with the commercial sprays, make sure that you cover any exposed skin. Also make sure you have a place to retreat to that won’t allow them to follow you.
Video Tutorial: Yellow Jacket Shop Vacuum Removal Method
Cost of Professional Extermination
The Expertise You Can Get by Hiring a Pro
To get rid of yellow jackets, you can also choose to hire a professional service to handle a nest or infestation for you. This can be especially helpful if you have more than one nest, or they’ve burrowed into or under your home.
As an added bonus, professional services and exterminators have experience dealing with all types of infestations. They can even keep an eye out for any other pests that may be affecting your home.
- Yellow jackets are considered helpful insects that pollinate flowers and eat destructive grubs and beetles.
- Thus, exterminators will be hesitant to destroy a colony unless it poses a direct stinging threat to humans or animals.
- Keep this in mind when seeking out the services of a professional, as well as when evaluating a nest on your own.
- Professionals are also adept at dealing with underground nests of yellow jackets. Dealing with such nests can pose its own unique challenges and dangers.
Search Online or Call
You can usually find several local options with a quick search online. Or you can call a national chain to come evaluate your property and offer you some solutions.
- Be sure to inquire about their fees;
- See if you can schedule a free in-home estimate of the size of any infestation and the potential cost of removing it.
Get a Quote Up Front
Just like finding a good plumber or electrician, make sure you work with someone you trust to take care of your home and family, and who will deal honestly with you.
- An average job of sealing and removing as well as killing yellow jackets can run from between $70 to $350, or more depending on your specific situation and area.
- Make sure that you get a quote up front before you are charged for services.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best price and service.
Remember that you have options, and don’t be afraid to check them out!
Summary and FAQs
Dealing with yellow jackets can be a tough situation. They are uniquely scary insects due to their aggressive behaviors around their nests and the fact that they can sting multiple times without slowing down.
Hopefully, now you’ve got a little more confidence and a little more information in dealing with this airborne pest.
- The most important thing to keep in mind is that while they are scary, yellow jackets are often more of a nuisance than a threat.
- And if it’s at all possible, adopting a “live and let live” attitude will help you avoid the hassle and potential cost of eliminating a nest.
However, if they are too close to your home, garden or gathering place, you have some options on how to remove them. By now you should have some useful tools to help you safely and effectively deal with the situation. So remember to stay calm, and enjoy your summer!
Let’s now summarize a few facts on yellow jackets repelling measures!
First, you should identify the nest in the ground. The yellow jackets’ nests are usually under thick grass or dense bushes. The insects use abandoned burrows to build their ground nests. However, the nests usually lie right underneath the surface. In some cases, yellow jackets’ nests can go as 4 feet deep.
If you have an underground yellow jackets’ nest, one of the best methods is to bring to boil peppermint castile soap and water and pour the mix in the nest. You can also use mint oil and water.
1. Identify the entry point and the nest.
2. Choose a commercial insecticide or prepare a homemade one.
3. Use the insecticide during the night.
4. Wait for a few days and check the results with care.
If you get freezing temperatures in your area, outdoor yellow jackets are likely to die. However, the nest survives if the insects dwell in an indoor environment with controlled temperature. Such places include attics, garages, a warm shed, etc. Keep in mind that if a yellow jacket nest survives the winter, it will continue to grow.