While yellow jackets are known to be essential to our ecosystem through their pollination of flowering plants, they are also some of the most widely feared stinging insects.

Unlike the friendly and docile bumblebee, yellow jackets can be aggressive and are known to sting multiple times when provoked, often leaving their victims with several painful stings and even dangerous allergic reactions.

If you have been noticing yellow jackets near your property, there are several measures you can take to get rid of these insects and prevent them from returning.

Identifying Yellow Jackets

When it comes to identifying yellow jackets, they can be recognized by their black coloring and distinct yellow markings on their head and abdomen. They have thin bodies with a segmented, skinny waist and are also hairless, making it easy to differentiate them from other types of wasps.

A yellow jacket nest can most commonly be found underground, as this protects them and reduces the chance of having their nest removed by humans or animals. Because of this, it is imperative to always wear shoes when walking outside to avoid stumbling onto a yellow jacket nest.

Why Are Yellow Jackets Dangerous?

Compared to other types of bees, yellow jackets are known to be more aggressive and will often sting multiple times when provoked. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room due to yellow jacket stings, and the insects’ venom can even cause dangerous allergic reactions in some people.

Why Are Yellow Jackets in My Yard?

Flowers are the main reason you may be seeing so many yellow jackets in your yard, as these pollinators are attracted to sweet smells. If you have an abundant garden with a lot of different flowers, yellow jackets are more likely to make themselves at home there.

Yellow jackets will also make their presence known if you tend to leave sweet-smelling drinks like soda or juice outside, so be sure to cover your drink whenever you’re dining outdoors and clean up as soon as you’re finished.

Signs of a Yellow Jacket Infestation

There are several signs of a yellow jacket infestation to look out for, including:

  • Seeing many yellow jackets around your property
  • Spotting a yellow jacket nest
  • Chew marks in the wooden structures on your property
  • Scratching or humming noises coming from inside your walls

Identifying a Yellow Jacket Nest

Yellow jacket nests can vary in appearance depending on their location and construction materials. However, they typically share some common characteristics. Underground nests often resemble small, inconspicuous mounds of soil with a single entrance hole. These nests can be hidden in lawns, gardens, or beneath structures like sheds.

Nests built in hollow trees or wall voids tend to be more concealed, with no visible external structure. Instead, you may only notice yellow jackets entering and exiting through small cracks or openings.

Learn More: Wasp or Hornet Nest? How to Tell the Difference.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

You can take several steps to remove a yellow jacket nest, though professional assistance is recommended.

1. Apply a Chemical Spray

There are several store-bought chemical sprays available to get rid of yellow jackets, with a few of the most popular brands being Spectracide and Raid. If you choose to use one of these sprays, be sure to carefully read the instructions on the bottle to ensure you’re applying the solution safely and effectively.

2. Set a Trap

Using yellow jacket traps is another effective way to get rid of these stinging insects, and the choice of whether to use store-bought traps or to make your own is up to you. A DIY yellow jacket trap can easily be made at home using an empty 2-liter soda bottle and adding sugar, water, apple cider vinegar, and fruit peels to lure and capture yellow jackets.

3. Use a Bug Zapper

Bug zappers are also popular methods of yellow jacket removal, as they can be purchased relatively inexpensively and hung outside of the home. Bug zappers work by emitting UV light that attracts flying insects and zapping them when they make contact, killing them.

4. Practice Prevention

Practicing proper prevention is the best way to reduce your chances of creating a welcoming environment for yellow jackets. These prevention measures include:

  • Sealing garbage cans when not in use
  • Covering open soda cans or juice cups when spending time outdoors
  • Cleaning up immediately after a cookout

5. Leave it Up to the Professionals.

When in doubt, contact a professional exterminator to remove yellow jackets. Your local exterminator can identify the source of an infestation and deal with it without the risk of you being stung. Most exterminators offer organic sprays that don’t harm trees or plants, so you can rest assured.

FAQs: Getting Rid of Yellow Jackets

How can I differentiate between yellow jackets and wasps?

Yellow jackets have a distinct appearance that can help differentiate them from other types of bees, with their hairless and thin, segmented bodies. Yellow jackets are also smaller than wasps, as well as more aggressive.

What do I do if I’m stung by a yellow jacket?

If you’re stung by a yellow jacket, the first thing you should do is inspect the area for a stinger. Yellow jackets typically don’t leave behind a stinger, but they sometimes do. If you spot a stinger, remove it with a pair of clean tweezers and wash the area with soap and water.

If you have access to meat tenderizer, mix a small amount of it with water and apply it to the sting for several minutes to neutralize the venom and reduce any pain you may be experiencing. You may also want to apply an ice pack to soothe the sting and be sure to call your doctor if you are experiencing any extreme pain or swelling.

Can yellow jackets nest inside homes?

While yellow jackets typically build their nests in the ground, they can enter your home during the colder months. These insects will often chew through the wood or drywall of a home to build their nests, so if you hear any scratching or humming noises coming from inside your walls, it may be a sign of a yellow jacket infestation.

What attracts yellow jackets to outdoor events?

You may notice more yellow jackets than usual when hosting a cookout or eating dinner outdoors. This is because yellow jackets are attracted to sweet scents such as soda and juice, as well as more hearty foods like chicken, ham, and potato salad.

These stinging insects can also frequently be spotted near uncovered trash cans with decomposing food inside, so be sure to cover any trash cans on your property to avoid creating a welcoming environment for yellow jackets.

Are there certain colors that attract yellow jackets?

Yellow jackets are said to be more attracted to brightly colored and dark clothing, so you may want to skip the neon green shirt and black shorts and instead opt for clothing in lighter colors, such as shades of white and tan.


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