Do you ever have a problem with stinging wasps such as yellow jackets? If the answer is yes, it means that you live in area prone to their presence. Among all wasps, yellow jackets are the most aggressive ones. You can tell the difference between yellow jackets and bees by looking at their waist. Yellow jackets have a thinner waist size than bees. Why do you need to understand the difference? After reading our 10 strategies to get rid of yellow jackets later, you’ll have the skills to kill them, and we don’t want you to kill bees thinking they are yellow jackets. Bees play an important role in nature. They don’t sting. And if they do sting, it is because they feel they’re in danger. After stinging once, they will die. But yellow jackets can sting as much as they want, leaving you in pain.
More About Yellow Jackets
Yellow jackets belong to the species Vespula. Their size is 1 inch, or around 10–16 millimeters, with long wings all over their body. The color is, as you may have guessed by their name, black and yellow or black and white with a striped head and thorax. You can meet solo yellow jackets or entire colonies of yellow jackets. Their colonies consist of thousands of workers. We can see yellow jackets easily in areas with northern temperate climates. Yellow jackets are mostly active during summer; after that, the queen will fly away and start the colonies. They are inactive in winter. It is difficult for them to fly if the temperature drops to 10 Celsius.
Actually, yellow jackets also have a role in nature. They pollinate flowers and are predators to flies, caterpillars, and spiders. What about foods? Their primary food sources are meat, tuna, fish, wet cat food, and things like that. That’s why they are called meat bees. They are also attracted to sweets and juices. Their ultimate prey is insects or arthropods.
Before you try 10 strategies to get rid of yellow jackets, it’s important to observe their nest. They build their nest from wood fiber and saliva. One single female yellow jacket will create the nest during spring. She needs to lay her first batch of eggs inside the nest. Still, the diameter of the nest can grow throughout the year. It can be big and very populous, especially if the yellow jackets live in a humid and hot area. We admit that it can be a bit difficult to spot the nest because they place it in difficult-to-reach areas.
The Varieties of Yellow Jackets
Considering how numerous yellow jackets are, we have summarized their varieties here. Each type has different characteristics based on their habitat.
- Vespula vularis
This is the most common yellow jacket wasp that can be found in the cities of the United States. They live on the ground and below ground. One of their characteristics is to dig a burrow as their underground shelter. Southern yellow jackets, or Vespula squamosa, usually build aerial and terrestrial nests.
- German Yellow Jackets
These originated in Europe, but we can spot this kind of wasp in the northeastern and Midwestern U.S. They build nests in wall voids, crawlspaces, cracks, or attics.
- Vespula maculifrons
This is the name for eastern yellow jackets. They build nests on the ground. Notice a small mound of dirt piled up in your yard? It may be their underground house.
- Vespula pensylvanica
The characteristics of these western yellow jackets are similar to those of the eastern ones. They also create nests on the ground and below ground.
- Areanara & Maculata
Different than the previous wasps, these ones usually live in aerial nests hanging from trees. They also attach their nests to the structures around them. These yellow jackets are categorized as less aggressive ones.
How to React to a Yellow Jacket
Now that you know how aggressive yellow jackets are, you have to know what to do when you are in direct contact with them. It may be one fine morning in the park when suddenly one solo yellow jacket lands on your back. If this happens, stay calm. Don’t make any erratic movements. Wait until the yellow jacket flies away. Or, if you can, manage to make a gentle move.
Another thing that may lead to the presence of yellow jackets is leaving food outside. When you have a picnic or barbeque with your family, they might come along to join the party. If they already land on your food, just leave them alone. Don’t make the wasp angry by reclaiming the food. There is no point to taking the unnecessary risk of being stung.
When being threatened, people will often take dramatic action as defense. when faced with a yellow jacket, remember to not use any physical force. Don’t hit them with a rolled-up newspaper, for instance. If you do this, the yellow jacket will sting you. Also, it will spark anger from the colony. Solo yellow jackets can easily turn on their natural alarm to draw other yellow jackets in.
10 Strategies to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets
When you encounter yellow jackets, it will be in one of two ways. A yellow jacket may appear on its own, or there is a possibility that they may appear in a big colony. As we mentioned above, one colony of yellow jackets may consist of thousands of yellow jackets. Now if you are ready to take action, remember to do it very carefully. Wear proper attire to prevent stings from an angry colony. The best time to kill yellow jackets is late spring or early summer because the queen is embedded within the nest. Let’s start the list and choose
1. Bait Station
This method requires no chemical element at all. You can make a trap on your own by preparing water, soap, and some of the yellow jacket’s favorite food, such as one tiny slice of meat. Prepare water in a bottle, then hang the tiny piece of meat with a thread. Place the lure about 2 inches above the water. When the yellow jacket is attracted to your lure, it will fall to the water and drown. Make sure that the bottle has a sealable cap.
You can use this method while having a picnic or cookout. Usually their favorite foods are different based on the weather. During spring or summer, they like meat, tuna, or wet cat food. But during fall, they prefer carbohydrates. Fruit juice can work both during summer and fall. By doing this, you can take advantage of spring, summer, and fall as the yellow jackets’ most active time.
2. Onslaught of Insecticide
This is the next step of the first strategy to get rid of yellow jackets. When you lure yellow jackets to the bait station, place the meat that has already been treated with onslaught insecticide. Once they chew it, the insecticide will kill them. This method is perfect for scavenger yellow jackets.
3. Kill the Nest
You can consider this strategy if you know where their nest is. It may be an oval nest, or also a hole in a tree or wood crack that always acts as their main gate to enter and exit the nest. Locate it precisely during daylight, but execute your strategy at dark. At night, the chance of being stung is lower. The yellow jackets can’t see well at night. When you approach the nest gently, use a projectile aerosol spray. Wait for a week so that the yellow jackets who have just come to the nest will also die. Check and repeat the spray. Once you feel sure that they’ve been killed, throw away the nest. Don’t let it lay on the ground because it will be harmful for your pets or other animals if they lick the poisonous residue.
4. Plug Their Hole
Once you know their nest or shelter, it’s much easier to kill yellow jackets. Usually they have a hole inside a tree or wood crack. If you know where it is, plug their hole tight. Do this at night. The yellow jackets will be trapped inside and die because they can’t breathe.
5. Red Flashlight
When you move to kill the nest at night, you need a flashlight to help you see. Cover your flashlight with red cellophane or use red bulbs in your flashlight. Why red? Because yellow jackets can’t see red light. This way, they won’t notice you’re coming. If you don’t have red bulbs, point your flashlight carefully and avoid direct exposure to their nest.
6. Soapy Trap
Prepare soapy water in a bowl. Make sure the water is boiled hot. Carefully pour the water into their burrow or ground nest. The water will flow freely and destroy the inaccessible underground hive. Before doing this strategy, make sure that you’ve precisely spotted their ground nest. Don’t mistake it with another burrow.
7. Reduce the Build Up
One of the things that triggers the presence of yellow jackets is a dirty environment. Thus, it’s important to check and empty your trash bin regularly, especially those located outside your home. Keep your trash containers closed tightly. You should do this regularly during summer until mid-autumn, the time when yellow jackets are actively searching for food.
8. The Sound of a Hammer
Do you notice solo yellow jackets coming to your garage, but have no idea how to make them leave without being stung? The answer is your hammer. Simply pick your hammer and make activity using the hammer. Yellow jackets hate the sound of a hammer! If you make noise with your hammer, they will look for a way to escape as soon as possible.
9. Vacuum Removal
You can also do vacuum removal, but this strategy can only be applied if the nest has already been weakened before. By doing vacuum removal, you can ensure that there are no yellow jackets left around your environment. Most importantly is to locate the queen. Once you get rid of the queen, the rest of the yellow jackets must look for another nest. If they don’t get to one as soon as possible, they will die due to having no shelter or place to protect themselves.
10. Peppermint Oil
Besides peppermint, orange oil can also work to get rid of yellow jackets. They don’t like the smell of peppermint or orange. All you have to do is mix the oil with water in balance composition, and place it in a sprayer. Then, you can spray it into their nest. Or else, you can place this around your yard or when you are eating outdoors. As a bonus, this oil can also keep other harmful wasps away.
These are the most effective 10 strategies to get rid of yellow jackets. Suit up when you handle their nest, and expose as little of your skin as possible. Cover your head and ears with a helmet or beanie. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Cover your neck with a scarf, and cover your hands with gloves. And make sure to cover your feet with socks and boots. Use thick clothes to protect you from being stung.
Now that you know 10 strategies to get rid of yellow jackets, you must have an escape plan after the execution. If you are attacking their nest at night, know precisely how you’re going to escape. You’ll only have 15 seconds maximum to run away from angry yellow jackets. Plan your path back in advance. Be very cautious and inspect for yellow jackets every time you are about to mow your lawn. If you get stung, apply anti-itch ointment as soon as possible. Take care and good luck!