Controlling Yellow Jacket Wasps - Garden Pest Tip
By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor
About Yellow JacketsYellow jackets are about 1/2 inch long with yellow-and-black-striped bands on their abdomens. They are often mistaken as honeybees, however, they are smaller than honeybees and don't have a pollen basket on their rear legs. They have a smooth stinger that can be used repeatedly to sting, where the honeybees have a barbed stinger that can only be used once.
Prevention and ControlThe nests of yellow jackets are usually found in an abandoned cavity such as a hole in the ground, hollow tree or the corner of a hidden eaves trough. At night, apply an insecticide dust into the entrance of the nest and kill them as they sleep. Avoid using a flashlight as they are attracted to the light.
Affected PlantsIn the early spring, the yellow jackets are a benefit to fruit and vegetable gardens because they eat the insects such as caterpillars and harmful flies that attack the plants. However, by late summer, they direct their appetites to human food and drinks, becoming a threat to people with their stingers.
DamageYellow jackets are a threat to people, as they sting their poisonous venom repeatedly into their victims, causing severe damage and even death to those with allergies.
Predator InsectsDuring the fall, bears and skunks dig into the underground nests and feed on the young yellow jackets.
Natural InsecticidesA reservoir filled with sugar water will attract them. They will drink and then fall and drown out of exhaustion.
Other Methods of ControlTo locate a yellow jacket nest, hang small pieces of raw fish or meat about a hundred feet from the suspected location. You can observe them feasting and then return to their nest.