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Yellowjackets, Yellow Jackets
Stinging Insects

Yellowjacket Biology, Information                Yellowjacket Elimination

Throughout the summer months, it is not uncommon for humans to have close encounters of the stinging kind as they use lawn mowers, edging tools or any other lawn equipment that makes noise.  The sounds made by various lawn tools will anger and disturb yellowjackets in the immediate area.  These stinging pests (often misidentified as ground hornets or honey bees) will often take a bulldozer "hostage," as the equipment operator abandons the equipment for safer ground. 

Yellowjackets are Vespids (Family Vespidae), a group of some of the more dangerous of the stinging insect pests.  Yellowjackets are among the smallest of this group of stinging insects.
These pests are social, building nests that can be quite large.  Nests are made from a material called carton or paper.  This material is produced by females who combine their saliva excretions with wood fibers to form the familiar looking paper nest.  A paper nest can be built by hornets, paper wasps and yellowjackets, but the yellowjacket nest is usually not visible.  This nest is usually underground but their are many cases where these insects have built nests above ground in the wall voids of homes.  A home in Valdosta, GA was seen with a huge nest built on the exterior wall of the structure, with a nest so large (about 12 feet long, along the side of the wall) it was easily seen from the road.
Underground nests and hidden wall nests are eliminated with the same procedures and pest control products mentioned in the Yellowjacket Elimination section of this article.
A yellowjacket nest resembles a hornet nest and can be inhabited by thousands of workers.  In most areas of the country, the majority of the pest population does not survive the cold winter months.  In parts of Florida and California it is not uncommon to find perennial nests that live throughout the entire year.  This situation creates even larger colonies in the nests, which is a great hazard to the unsuspecting person or family dog that ventures too close to the nest or nest entrance.

The German Yellowjacket is another stinging insect that is often found in attics, crawl spaces, inside hollow blocks or other voids of homes in the northeast United States.  German Yellowjackets found in other areas of the United States usually nest beneath the soil, in ground burrows or nests.

Yellowjackets will feed on a variety of items that contain sugars, proteins and carbohydrates.  Some of the foods this pests are seen eating: beer, aphids, caterpillars, flies, meat (usually from the carcass of a dead animal or fish,)  and various items found in garbage cans.  Left-over citrus drinks and residue from beverage cans are the main reason why schools have problems with children being attacked or stung while on campus.
Without regular emptying and cleaning of all trash receptacles, schools can expect yellowjackets or wasps to have regular attendance on their property.  While school personnel should be told about the severity of the problem and instructed to constantly monitor and clean such receptacles, students should also be involved.  Their participation in keeping trash in trash bins (instead of close to trash bins!) will go a long way in the sanitation, prevention of stinging pests.

Yellowjacket Elimination

Common Mistakes in Eliminating Yellowjackets, Hornets, Bees

  • Trying to kill yellowjackets with a Wasp Freeze rarely works.  A wasp freeze is designed to sharp-shoot a stinging pest or their exposed nest.  This is fine for visible paper nests under the eaves of your home but a waste of time for nests in the ground or in voids of a structure.  A wasp freeze has a quick knock down on most insects but has no residual and will not spread out inside of a void, as will an insecticide dust.
  • Spraying a liquid insecticide into a void will not penetrate the large nests of yellowjackets.  The insecticide solution will follow the path of least resistance, not blowing out sideways as will a professional dust.
  • Many over the counter dusts found in lawn and garden centers are simply too heavy for this job.  You need the precise formulation of a professional dust for the job.
  • Do not attempt to eliminate an underground colony or one that is in a wall void during daylight hours!  You will get a better kill and will have a safer outcome if you wait until dusk.  More about this in our yellowjacket elimination section.

The best yellowjacket elimination job starts with locating any possible entry points leading to the nest.  This is true of ground nests as well as wall nests.  It is best to locate these entrance holes during the afternoon hours.  During this time period, the workers are easily seen as they forage for food and return to their home.  To create a safer environment for yellowjacket extermination, place a small object close to the entrance hole so that it is easily seen.  This is very important, as you will see in the second step of the operation.  If you can see entrance holes, go to the next step in yellowjacket elimination.  If you are unable to pinpoint the exact location of the colony's entrance, it might be due to grass, weeds, ground cover or landscaping.  In this case, it might be necessary to broadcast the general area with a professional liquid insecticide, using your hose end sprayer.  A pump type garden sprayer is not suggested for this job.  Eliminating yellowjackets, bees in a wall void or other such above ground nest, follow the guidelines in Yellowjacket elimination in voids.
When broadcast treating an area, there are two pesticides that work better than others: Cypermethrin and Talstar.  Both of these products are synthetic pyrethrins that are safer to use than Dursban, Diazinon or other harsh products.  These two products are also far better in performance.  Yellowjackets, wasps and hornets do not like Cypermethrin!
Pour 4 to 8 ounces of Cypermethrin insecticide concentrate into your hose end sprayer.  Attach your sprayer to a garden hose.  You may now safely spray your pesticide solution over the entire area.  Begin with fence lines, flower beds, tall grass or weeds, or any area where you suspect yellowjackets to forage or where possible entrances to their colony could be.  If there is not too much flying insect activity, you can broadcast your liquid insecticide during daylight hours.  Watch your step!  The power of your garden hose sprayer will give you the reach and distance needed to do the job but you should still be on the lookout for yellowjackets and their colony entrance holes.  After your Cypermethrin treatment, you may go on to the next step in yellowjacket elimination.

Once a nest or colony entrance has been located and marked, you will be able to apply your pest control products in the correct area.  However, do not attempt to eliminate an active yellowjacket nest in the middle of the day.  This is very dangerous as it invites multiple stinging workers to your exposed face and skin.
The best time to do this pest control job is at dusk.  During this time you will have some visibility but the insects will be settling down for the day.  Wasps, bees, hornets, yellowjackets prefer to rest at dark.  This gives you two distinct advantages:

  • All workers will be in the nest, instead of foraging and gathering food for the colony. This gives you an excellent kill.
  • If workers are at rest in the ground, you know where they are and you know that they are not active nor in defense mode.  This means a safer work environment for you.

Now that you have located and marked the entrance holes to your yellowjacket nest and the sun is just going down, you are ready to apply your product.  Injecting a professional insecticide dust into the entrance hole is your best bet
Delta Dust applied with a Crusader Duster will do the job.
Delta Dust has the advantage of being water proof.  If the soil in or around your colony is damp, Delta Dust will give a better residual than other dusts which are severely damaged by moisture.  Fill your Crusader Duster no more than 3/4 full with Delta Dust.  After replacing the lid, give the duster a few quick shakes.  This will fluff up the dust, helping to create a "cloud" of dust instead of a pile of dust when applied.
Once your products have been prepared, carefully approach the colony entrance holes.  Walking heavily or tripping over lawn equipment or children toys, pet toys, pet food and water dishes will create vibrations in the ground that might arouse the unsuspecting yellowjackets.
Insert the tip of the duster into the entrance hole and quickly "puff" the insecticide dusts down into the colony.
Six or seven puffs or bursts of dust will create a cloud of dust that penetrates and travels through much of the colony.  As workers move through the colonies they too will distribute the dust even further throughout the paper nest.
During this application, you might hear the sounds of insects starting to move about.  If so, go back to the house.  You can finish the job another evening.  Safety first!

Yellowjacket Elimination in Voids

Locate bee or yellowjacket nest entrance holes, in the same manner as inspecting lawns.  The difference in eliminating stinging pests in voids is that only one dust is necessary and you will need a small tool to do the job properly.
Once the entrance holes have been located, inject Delta Dust into the holes with the use of a Crusader Duster.  Any crack, crevice or small opening in the general area of the entrance holes should also be treated.  Just as in lawn colony elimination, this job should be done just before dark when bee activity has stopped but there is just enough light for you to see to work.  If work must be done after dark, the use of a flashlight might backfire.  Any emerging pests can be attracted to the light source.  If a light must be used, cover a flashlight lens with red transparent material.  This red light will not be as bright as white light but it offers you extra protection.  Insects do not see well into the red spectrum of light.
After thoroughly dusting all possible holes, wait two to three days to examine the situation.  If there are any living bees, wasps or hornets remaining after this time period, reapply your Delta Dust.
Two to three applications might be necessary for large nests.

To help prevent further infestations, spray the exterior of your home 3 to 4 times each year.  Use Demon WP (a Cypermethrin product) for this job.  These types of pests cannot tolerate Cypermethrin.  The insecticide also gives a great chemical barrier that is safe for family and pets but works great for spiders, scorpions, ants, roaches, silverfish and many other household pests.

Cypermethrin    Demon EC    Cynoff EC    Delta Dust

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Yellowjackets (yellow jackets)   Wasps   Hornets   Mud Daubers   Household Pests

Pest Control

Yellowjackets, Yellow Jackets