How to Get Rid of Yellowjackets

Updated on March 5, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia has years of experience with gardening and wild pests in New Hampshire and other locales.

What Does a Yellowjacket Look Like?

Wikipedia provided this beautiful photo of a yellow jacket wasp. It is used under Creative Commons licence.
Wikipedia provided this beautiful photo of a yellow jacket wasp. It is used under Creative Commons licence. | Source

Plagued by Stinging Yellowjackets in Your Yard?

When you have a yellowjacket nest in your yard, it's likely that someone will get stung. Getting rid of these hornets becomes a priority before more people get hurt. Here's what worked for me with these pests.

I first noticed them when I tossed a few logs onto my log pile. A yellowjacket hornet flew out of the wood storage alcove under our deck. It stung me on my hand, and as I tried to brush it off, it stung a second time. Ow, that hurt like the dickens.

Once I realized what an active colony we had, we tried several methods to rid ourselves of the yellowjackets. Unfortunately, a guest was stung on the ankle before we found a solution. I felt terrible that this happened while we were entertaining visitors.

Several weeks went by as I tried different methods but those just weren't working quickly enough for me. Finally, I tried Rescue Yellowjacket traps and you'll see below how those helped our situation.

Here's the Product That Worked for Me

The package is the actual trap, so read the instructions first. Don't rip open the bag or you'll ruin the trap.
The package is the actual trap, so read the instructions first. Don't rip open the bag or you'll ruin the trap. | Source
This is where you cut out the circle to allow the hanging part to come out
This is where you cut out the circle to allow the hanging part to come out | Source
Pull the upper part out through the circle opening that you cut (as shown in the picture).
Pull the upper part out through the circle opening that you cut (as shown in the picture). | Source

Using the Rescue Yellowjacket Trap

Do
Don't
Notes
Read the instructions first
Rip open the bag
You can repair the bag with duct tape if you ripped it open
Hang the trap 20 feet away
Hang too close to doors or gardens
 
Add water to the level marked on the bag
Overfill the bag with water
 

The Rescue Disposable Yellowjacket Trap

RESCUE! Non-Toxic Disposable Yellowjacket Trap, West of the Rockies
RESCUE! Non-Toxic Disposable Yellowjacket Trap, West of the Rockies

You can get a single one of these or multiple ones to hang around the yard. Place them at least 20 feet away from house entrances or food gardens.

 

Don't Rip Open the Bag

Read the instructions first

Instructions and Video Review of Rescue YellowJacket Trap

Important

This trap does not attract beneficial honey bees, so you don't need to worry about that.

Video Review Comparing Different Hornet Traps

Hurrah! The Rescue Yellowjacket Trap Is Working

By the second day, several yellowjackets were inside the trap. In the following days, I estimate about 5 to 8 additional ones entered and drowned in the liquid.

The instructions say the trap continues to work as long as the liquid hasn't all evaporated. Today (after 2 weeks), I don't see any yellowjackets zooming in and out of their nesting area.

My Yellow Jacket Trap

I tied it to a low branch on a tree. It's away from the house but convenient for me to check on the progress.
I tied it to a low branch on a tree. It's away from the house but convenient for me to check on the progress. | Source

I Was Finally Able to Knock Down the Nest

After capturing quite a few yellow jackets in the trap and the weather turned cooler, I wasn't seeing them flying to the nest very often. I used a long-handled tool to reach under the deck (above the woodpile) and knock the nest down.
After capturing quite a few yellow jackets in the trap and the weather turned cooler, I wasn't seeing them flying to the nest very often. I used a long-handled tool to reach under the deck (above the woodpile) and knock the nest down. | Source
I couldn't see under there, so it took several tries to scrape it all out. That broke it into pieces.  There were a few yellow jackets crawling around, so I hastily backed away and left it for awhile.
I couldn't see under there, so it took several tries to scrape it all out. That broke it into pieces. There were a few yellow jackets crawling around, so I hastily backed away and left it for awhile. | Source
I sprayed the center part with wasp killer spray and waited. After seeing no activity, I assembled the parts to see how the nest looked.
I sprayed the center part with wasp killer spray and waited. After seeing no activity, I assembled the parts to see how the nest looked. | Source
The sections where the larvae grow were in descending sizes. This nest had 4. The outer covering of the nest was a papery balloon to protect the inner part. You can get a little idea from this photo of it's configuration.
The sections where the larvae grow were in descending sizes. This nest had 4. The outer covering of the nest was a papery balloon to protect the inner part. You can get a little idea from this photo of it's configuration. | Source
I found this photo to show how the exterior of a hornet's nest would look.
I found this photo to show how the exterior of a hornet's nest would look. | Source

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Hanging a Fake Nest Now

A friend shared with me this tip: Fill a paper bag with newspaper and shape it like a wasp's nest. Hang it to deter them from returning to the spot.
A friend shared with me this tip: Fill a paper bag with newspaper and shape it like a wasp's nest. Hang it to deter them from returning to the spot. | Source

I Made a Nest of a Gray Plastic Bag

I made it look sort of football shaped, but a little bigger at the top. Then I filled the interior loosely with other plastic bags. This should withstand the winter weather and deter the yellow jackets returning to their nesting spot in the spring.

Apparently, over the years, they can make the nest bigger and bigger. I don't want a repeat of this summer.

Our First Ideas for Dealing With Yellowjackets

Contact Sprays

We had some sprays on hand, which had worked well for the black-bodied hornets. Those are fairly slow-flying insects, so the stream sprayed on one knocked it down immediately. This didn't succeed with the zippy flying speed of the yellowjackets. I just couldn't spray quickly enough to hit it in mid-air.

The didn't sit still long enough for me to spray one either. Besides, it wasn't just one or two of these pests. There were dozens, and they flew in and out under our deck where the woodpile was. We couldn't see the nest to spray it and it was too risky to stick our head into the alcove where we could see better.

Exterminator

We thought about hiring an exterminator, but being thrifty by nature, we wanted to try to take care of the problem on our own.

Fatal Funnel Traps

These were inexpensive and used a plastic soda bottle which we had on hand and your own concoction for an attractant. What you received were instructions, a batch of yellow flower-shaped entrances that you inserted on the soda bottle after you sliced an X with a knife through the plastic.

I mixed up a batch of attractant as instructed using apple juice and some meat scraps. It looked pretty vile in the bottle. I knew the yellowjackets liked sweet drinks, as they pestered us when we drank wine on our deck. Apparently, they are also carnivores.

The first few days, the Fatal Funnel seemed like a dud. Perhaps the apple juice and the meat needed to ferment a bit. Then a few yellowjackets entered and drowned in the liquid. It wasn't enough to remove our problem though. Dozens still remained and were a threat each time we walked past that area.

After several weeks, some animal knocked over the bottle and all the liquid drained out. Fortunately, the trap was sitting in the garden so it didn't make a mess on the deck. It really looked gross by this time, so I tossed it in the trash.

To be fair to the manufacturer, I set up another one of these in early September. This time, I read the instructions more carefully. "Raw meat" it said, so the fat that I trimmed off the cooked ham last time may not have been what the critters wanted. This time, I put half a slice of turkey deli meat in it. That's cooked too, so still may not appeal.

I didn't have apple juice on hand, but use Coca Cola which should be plenty sweet for the yellow jacket's sweet tooth. I had lemonade in the fridge and that might have worked also. We will see how it goes.

What to Do If You Get Stung

A yellowjacket sting is painful, but for most people the pain goes away before long. You can treat it with a paste of water and meat tenderizer or put an ice cube on it. If one is allergic, like I found I was, the area swells up and you have burning, itching pain for days. After about a week, the swelling did go down.

For people who have a strong physical reaction, it is a good idea to have Benedryl in your medicine cabinet. Avoid areas with wasps. You also want to clear out existing yellow jackets before anyone gets seriously hurt.

I recommend getting the Rescue Yellowjacket Traps (either the disposable ones or the refillable).

Tips for Treating a Yellowjacket Sting

Called the nurse hotline. She said apply moistened meat tenderizer, later use a cold pack for 10 minutes, take Benadryl for itching (or Clariton or Zyrtec). It could take a week for the swelling to go down if you are allergic to the sting. I have to watch out for red streaks which could indicate an infection.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Virginia Allain

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      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 21 months ago from Central Florida

        Unfortunately, these yellowjackets have the nest under our deck and we can't see it to spray where it is. With paper wasps, we generally can spray the nest as you suggest.

      • Mel Carriere profile image

        Mel Carriere 21 months ago from San Diego California

        Horrible little critters. I hate them. We have had a few small hornets nests here but we spray them and they die. These yellow jackets sound more fierce and persistent. Great hub!

      • Virginia Allain profile image
        Author

        Virginia Allain 21 months ago from Central Florida

        The good thing about the attractant in this is it doesn't bring in bees. We certainly don't want to hurt the bee population with all the problems they've been having.

      • Lorelei Cohen profile image

        Lorelei Cohen 21 months ago from Canada

        We have fruit trees in our back year so definitely want bees around but the past 5 or 6 years we have been fighting wasps. They take every opportunity they can get to build their nests. We just found one this week built into the side of my husband's car where the door opens. It is certainly a battle to rid ourselves of these pests.

      • Karen Hellier profile image

        Karen Hellier 22 months ago from Georgia

        Great tips and we just had a cookout tonight and they were after me so I just may use these ideas...thanks for sharing.

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