You could be enjoying a warm afternoon picnic in your yard until you come across a nest of yellowjackets. Although yellowjackets nest in rotting logs and hollow logs, their favorite spot is underground in rodent burrows.
Often confused with bees, yellowjackets are not a species of bees. Instead, they are in the wasps and hornet family. As a result, they pose a greater stinging risk than bees—unfortunately, their population peaks in the summer and risks picnic tables and outdoor activities.
The safest and best way to get rid of yellowjackets is to hire a professional. However, you can also do it yourself if you take all the necessary precautions, knowing there is a likelihood of getting stung. You can use toxic chemicals to remove an entire nest or natural pesticides to reduce the yellowjacket population. The article below includes the most effective and safe ways you can employ to eliminate yellowjackets in the ground and around your home.
How to identify a yellowjacket bee underground nest
Finding a yellowjacket nest requires time and patience, but locating their underground nest is more challenging. Follow the steps below on how to spot a yellowjacket underground nest.
- The ideal time to look for yellowjacket nests is after the day has warmed up between 10 am to 4 pm, dependent on the weather. At this time, the yellowjackets should be actively flying in and out of their nest. Also, too hot or cold weather will make the yellowjackets sluggish.
- Pay attention to their yellowjacket activity. Look for an area with swarming yellowjackets flying in and out along a constant “beeline.”
- If there are no signs of yellowjackets in the air, look for holes in the ground around your property. If you find one nesting hole, continue searching the entire property as it’s likely they could be more.
- In case don’t find active yellow bees, try luring them with food. Place some food on a plate and place it on the ground, then watch for yellowjackets flying to the bait. The smell of food will draw the yellowjackets out of their nest, and they will try to take it back to their nest to feed the larvae. Once they do, follow their path to their nests. Try using protein-based foods such as meat, fish, or sugary foods, likely smoothies, sugar, or juice.
- Then mark all the nests as you find them. However, do not mark too close to their nest as you disturb the colony, and they can attack you.
Best way to get rid of yellowjacket bees without killing them
Yellowjacketjackets are very aggressive insects, but their infestations are only temporary. Even so, they can be a nuisance in the spring as summer and potentially dangerous if someone is allergic to their sting.
Suppose you have a yellowjacket on a wall or ground, it’s best to contact a professional to remove the yellowjackets without killing them. But if you feel bold enough, follow the steps below to eliminate them yourself safely.
Treat the yellowjacket nest at night.
The best time to remove a yellowjacket nest is early in the season before the colony becomes too large. However, if it is near autumn, it is best to wait it out and allow the cold to naturally get rid of them as that’s their normal life cycle.
Maintaining hygiene around your yard reduces the yellowjackets population from building up during summer to mid-autumn. Close trash containers and empty them regularly to eliminate possible food sources. Line the garbage can with a plastic bag and clean the cans often.
Also, cover compost piles or remove them from your property.
The most effective yellowjacket traps that control their population without killing them are lure traps. Lure traps will reduce the number of yellowjackets but won’t eliminate a large colony. You can use a lure trap called heptyl butyrate, which is a chemical that attracts the western yellowjacket and not other species into a durable plastic container.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set up the device, then hang the device along the edge of the property. The RESCUE! Reusable Yellowjacket Trap attracts multiple species of yellowjackets found in North America, and it’s the most common brand on the market.
Once you take them out of their nests, the best way to avoid future issues is to prevent their nesting. Here are some preventive measures you can adopt you keep the yellowjackets out of your yard.
- Seal any entry points into your homes, such as cracks and torn window and door screens.
- Do not provide them food or drink. Ensure no open water sources or leaking water pipes around your property.
- Fill unoccupied rodent burrows with soil to reduce potential nesting areas for the yellowjackets.
- If you grow fruit trees in containers, set them away from the house since they attract yellowjackets.
Remove the nests
Interfering with the yellowjacket nest can be a dangerous task for an amateur. Therefore, it is best to employ a professional who can safely remove the nest from your property without killing them. But if you do choose to do it yourself, wear heavy beekeeping protective gear.
If you have an aerial nest, slowly enclose the nest in a plastic bag and pull it loose. However, underground nests are much more difficult to remove and need an exterminator. Check out bee removal source for professional removal service organized by state.
How to get rid of yellowjackets naturally.
To avoid contaminating the area around your home with toxic insecticides, try using soapy water to get rid of yellowjackets naturally.
Things you’ll need
- Liquid dish soap
- Essential oil ( peppermint, lemon, clove, lemongrass, or geranium)
- Spray bottle
- Get a spray bottle that can fire long-distance as you will have to stand at a safe distance from the yellowjackets when you spray them.
- Cover yourself as much as possible or wear a beekeeping suit.
- Mix one tablespoon of liquid soap and two cups of warm water, then add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice or a blend of the listed essential oils.
- Fill the spray bottle with the mixture.
- Stand as far as possible from the yellowjacket nest and spray the yellowjackets. The soapy water will hold down their wings and prevent them from flying out. As a result, they will drown and slowly die.
- Then cover the holes with sand and crush the nest with a stick to prevent escaped wasps from coming back.
Are yellowjacket bees dangerous?
Bees and wasps are highly territorial, but yellowjackets are the most aggressive wasps. Although yellowjackets defend their nest and food sources vigorously, they can still sting attack you unprovoked. Bee and wasp experts consider them extremely dangerous due to the following reasons:
- Yellowjackets do not lose their stinger, so they sting repeatedly.
- The venom from their sting can cause severe reactions.
- Yellowjackets can both sting and bite. They will often bite to have a better grip to jab in their stinger. Their bites are also painful.
- They also release a chemical that lures other yellowjackets to come and sting you during an attack.
- For some people, yellowjacket stings are life-threatening. In addition, venom can cause asphyxiation.
What do you pour down a yellowjacket hole?
Removing ground yellowjacket nests requires caution and precision because you can’t tell how big the colony is. However, there are a few things you can pour down a yellowjacket nest in the ground to suffocate and kill them.
This method is the easiest and most environmentally safe way to naturally get rid of yellowjacket nests. First, add liquid detergent in a few gallons of water and pour it down the yellowjacket hole. Then pour boiling water into the hole immediately after to run the soap solution deeper into the hole.
If the soapy solution doesn’t work, try using insecticide chemicals to kill the yellowjackets. Choose an insecticide with active ingredients such as; carbaryl, bendiocarb, chlorpyrifos, and acephate since they are effective against more difficult to kill insects. These insecticides come in liquid aerosols or dust forms and destroy the live yellowjackets and their eggs.
Stand about 20 feet from the nest, then direct the insecticide spray directly into the hole. Spray generously to saturate the nest. Alternatively, puff the chemical dust into the yellow jack nest, cover the nest with a tarp to prevent the yellowjackets from escaping then leave the area immediately. Check the area the following day and repeat.
Note: Although gasoline effectively kills yellowjacket nests, this method is not advisable. Gasoline is toxic to the ground, killing both plants and animals, and fire risk and health hazard to humans.
Do yellowjacket nests have two entrances?
Yellowjacket nests can have more than one entrance, but yellowjackets do not build a new escape hatch. Instead, the queen finds a suitable hole to occupy, and that hole can come naturally with several openings. Ground-nesting yellowjackets cannot even dig another entrance or exit if they can’t find food.
Are there any benefits to letting a yellowjackets nest be on your property?
Yellowjackets can be very irritating and even dangerous when threatened, but they also benefit gardeners. Here are some benefits of yellowjackets.
- Yellowjackets are predator insects. So they feed on other insects that would otherwise damage crops in the garden like aphids, caterpillars, crickets, and flies. So they help with pest control.
- They help pollinate flowers in your garden.
Check this too: How Do You Get Rid of Wasps in Your House Without Getting Stung?
Despite the benefits yellowjackets may seem to have, control is necessary to ensure the safety of people and pets around your home. They may become particularly aggressive in the fall when they start running out of food.
Regardless of which method you choose to get rid of yellowjackets from your compound, always wear protective gear and wait until dusk to remove their nest. However, it is best to call in professional help for safety purposes.