Yellow jackets can become a nuisance in late summer when they scavenge for food around yards. With a sting that packs a painful punch, keeping them away from your property is wise. This guide covers tips identifying yellow jackets, avoiding stings, DIY removal approaches, and when to call in a professional for nest treatment.

Identifying Yellow Jackets

Two of the most common yellow jackets are the Western and Eastern varieties. Here’s how to identify them:

  • Appearance – Yellow and black markings, with yellow predominating. Shiny, bald bodies due to little hair. About 1/2 inch long.
  • Nesting – Build papery nests made of chewed wood pulp. Often in holes in the ground, voids in walls, or hanging under eaves.
  • Behavior – Foraging yellow jackets are highly aggressive when feeding. They scavenge for sugary foods and protein.
  • Stinger – Females have a smooth, retractable stinger for repeated stinging. The stinger injects painful venom.
  • Season – Most visible and aggressive in late summer and fall when colony sizes peak. Nests die over winter.

If you spot lots of yellow jackets buzzing around your property, read on for deterrents and removal approaches.

Dangers and Risks of Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket stings are more than just a painful nuisance. Here are some concerns to be aware of:

  • Allergic reactions – Those allergic to wasp and bee venom may react severely with swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and other symptoms.
  • Multiple stings – Yellow jackets can sting repeatedly. Multiple stings increase venom dose and risk of reactions.
  • Infection – Sting sites can become infected due to bacteria carried on the stinger. Watch for increasing redness, pain, heat or pus.
  • Anaphylactic shock – Whole-body allergic response that involves blood pressure dropping and airways constricting. May be life-threatening. Get emergency care if this occurs.

Given these risks, controlling yellow jackets is important for a safe, comfortable yard.

Deterring Yellow Jackets From Your Property

The key is disrupting scavenging yellow jackets from finding food in your yard. Try these tactics and modifications:

  • Remove fallen tree fruits, ripe vegetables, and rotting produce quickly.
  • Keep garbage cans and dumpsters closed securely. Don’t overflow them.
  • Clean recycling bottles and cans before storing them for pickup. Avoid sugary soda/juice spills.
  • Pick up pet food dishes promptly after pets finish meals.
  • Clean up sweet drinks, juices, and food spills right after outdoor meals or parties.
  • Avoid wearing sweet perfumes, scented lotions, or hair products outdoors.
  • Install yellow jacket traps away from human areas to divert them.
  • Attach plastic bags coated inside with a thin film of vegetable oil to deter nest building under eaves.
  • If you find the ground nest, spray a pesticide like pyrethrin dust into the hole at night when wasps are dormant. Wear protective clothing.

These changes make a yard less inviting to foraging yellow jackets looking for carbohydrate sources. It won’t deter them completely, but helps reduce their numbers.

DIY Yellow Jacket Control

For non-professional yellow jacket control, a few options exist:

Traps – Hang yellow jacket traps like Rescue brand in trees/posts at least 20 feet from human spaces. Lure them in with attractants, then the one-way cones trap them inside to die.

Dust insecticides – Products like Sevin, Delta Dust or Drione can be lightly applied to the nest opening at night. The dust sticks to yellow jackets and poisons those inside the nest.

Aerosol sprays – Wasp & Hornet Killer aerosols can shoot a spray stream up to 20 feet. Hit nest openings for immediate knockdown, but avoid widespread spraying.

Soap and water – Spraying a forceful stream of soapy water into a ground nest opening can flood it and kill inhabitants. However, underground nests often have multiple exits, so this is hit or miss.

Other approaches – Petroleum jelly inside nest holes, vinegar traps or essential oil sprays may provide limited control. Results vary. Avoid gasoline or fires.

For amateur DIY yellow jacket control, traps and limited dust or spray treatments tend to work best when nests are in accessible spots. But caution is needed.

Professional Yellow Jacket Nest Removal

In many cases, the most effective solution is calling a licensed pest control professional. Reasons to consider pro nest removal:

  • Reaches upper nests safely – Professionals have equipment to safely treat nests up high on eaves, trees or other hard to reach spots. Ladders, lifts and extended tools allow precise treatment.
  • Finds hidden nests – A thorough inspection can locate ground nests in bushes, holes or voids that may be difficult to spot yourself. Underground nests have multiple exits that all need sealing.
  • Stronger and safer pesticides – Exterminators have commercial grade dusts, foams and sprays that are more potent and longer-lasting than what homeowners can buy. They know proper protective gear and applications.
  • Monitors for success – A good exterminator will return to confirm yellow jackets are gone and the nest is fully dead after treatment. Retreatment is provided if needed.
  • Offers guarantees – Many pest control companies guarantee their yellow jacket removal services for a period of time. DIY efforts cannot ensure complete nest eradication.

For the most complete removal of yellow jacket nests on your property, calling in an expert is advisable.

FAQs About Deterring Yellow Jackets

Here are answers to some common questions about keeping yellow jackets away from your yard:

What scent deters yellow jackets? Strong fragrances like mint, clove or eucalyptus oils may help deter some foragers. Avoid heavily scented perfumes or lotions outside.

Do yellow jackets die in winter? Yes, all yellow jackets except new young queens die by winter. Only mated new queens overwinter in protected spots to restart colonies in spring. Removing nests now prevents repopulation next year.

What time of day are yellow jackets most active? Foraging yellow jackets look for food during daylight hours when temperatures are mild to warm. Nest pesticide treatments are often done at night when wasps are less active and inside the nest.

What plants repel yellow jackets? Some plants like hydrangeas, mint, lavender, citronella and wormwood may repel yellow jackets to a small degree by masking food odors in a yard. But removal of attractants is more effective.

Will yellow jackets attack if provoked? Yes, yellow jackets become very aggressive if their nest is disturbed or threatened. Batting at them increases stinging risk. Best to remain calm and move away slowly once detected.

How far do yellow jackets travel from their nest? Foraging worker yellow jackets may travel 100-200 yards from the central nest looking for food and water. Scouts look for new nest sites up to a mile away by midsummer.

Call Texas Bug Control Today

Don’t wait until yellow jackets become firmly established around your property. Call the professionals at Texas Bug Control for proactive treatments:

  • Expert identification and nest locating
  • Targeted, lasting commercial treatments
  • Safe, effective exterior barrier sprays
  • Nest removal and cleanup
  • Post-treatment monitoring
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

For the most effective elimination of yellow jacket nests this season, schedule service online today.

About the author : Shaun W