How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets
Yellow jacket (or yellow-jacket) is the usual name in North America for predatory wasps of the genus Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these species are better-known simply as "wasps" in other English-speaking countries. Most of them are black and yellow; some are black and white (such as the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata), while others may have the abdomen background color red instead of black.
They can be identified by their characteristic markings, small size (similar to the size of a honey bee). They exist in colonies and have a characteristic rapid side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing. Yellow-jackets are often mistakenly called "bees." All their females are capable of stinging. Yellow jackets are important predators of pest insects, though they can be pests themselves as well.
II. Yellow Jackets as Pests
Eliminating yellow jackets can be time-consuming and excruciating. Yellow jacket (of the Vespula genus) are possibly the only wasp that can be considered pestiferous if you take its belligent colony size and defensive nature into account.
This aggression on the part of the yellow jacket genus is most evident towards the end of the summer when the colony starts to crumble and workers find more sugars and sweets to nourish themselves and what's left of their young. Not only does the yellow jacket wasp's demeanor change toward the end of the warm season, but the size of a colony can also be imposingly astronomical if left unobstructed.
For the most part, wasps are predators and rarely scavengers, and this, by and large, applies to yellow jackets as well, but there are particular species within the Vespula genus that tend to salvage more aggressively than others.
Vespula Vulgaris, for example, is one of these scavenging species, and because of their scavenging behavior, they tend to come into contact with humans on a more regular basis than wasps that hunt live prey.
III. Basic Yellow Jacket Control
* Sometimes getting rid of yellow jackets or reducing yellow jacket populations is as easy as keeping your garbage cans properly sealed. Your garbage bins are a windfall not only for stray dogs, stray cats, and the occasional raccoon, but also for yellow jacket wasps, which will feed on the left proteins and sugars you tend to throw out with the trash.
Scraps of meat and fish are particularly pleasing to a yellow jacket's appetite, as well as old bottles of pop, bottles of syrup, and fruit.
* One way to get rid of yellow jackets is to keep pet food and other sources of refined proteins indoors. Yellow jackets, like other wasps, really do enjoy protein, and nothing is packed with more accessible proteins than pet food floating around in a water dish.
Keep your dog or cat's food bowl inside during the warmer months, or find a way to protect the pet food from foraging pests like yellow jackets and other scavenging wasps.
* Pop cans, humming bird feeders, and other sweets should not be left out, or should be sealed in such a way as to prevent yellow jackets from gaining access to the sugar. Studies done on yellow jackets show that populations with access to large amounts of refined sugars build incredibly large colonies much faster than colonies which access to food is restricted to their natural diet of nectar and live prey.
* Make sure awnings and siding is properly sealed to get rid of yellow jackets. Preventing yellow jackets from gaining entrance to the voids in the siding and roofing of your home is highly recommended because hidden wasps nests are particularly difficult to get rid of and may require the services of a pest control professional.
If you can not stand having wasps living behind your walls, having a professional remove them for you is going to be like having a root canal on your wallet. If you're patient, cold weather will eventually kill the colony, and then you can seal the entrance without driving wasps into your home.
* Mechanical, non-toxic traps are a good way to get rid of yellow jackets – or at least reduce the local population to a less noticeable level. There are a couple of theories surrounding the right timing of yellow jacket and wasps traps, but most experts agree that traps should be put out during the earlier months of the warm season.
If traps are set before yellow jacket queues begin their search for proper nesting grounds, it's possible to spare your community one more yellow jacket colony by killing that one queen. Otherwise, traps set during the first few weeks of summer should keep yellow jacket populations at a manageable level during the peak season.
IV. Natural and Organic Yellow Jacket Control
The do-it-yourself wasp trap is perhaps one of the most effective traps your money does not need to buy. All you'll need is an empty 2-liter bottle, scissors, and some sugar water or fruit juice.
* Cut the cone off about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the bottle, flip it over, and staple it into place so that it looks like a minnow trap. Then, fill the bottle with fruit juice concentrate or sugar water with a little soap, and hang it from an awning or in your garden if you prefer.
* Pouring boiling water or just soapy water into the entrance of a yellow jacket nest is one way of killing yellow jackets and rendering their nest uninhabitable. Of course, this particular tactic should be done during the late evening, and measures should be taken to cover the skin in case the colony is feeling particularly bloodthirsty that evening.
* If you're going to use soap water, why not do it with some organic dish soap like the kind Seventh Generation makes? Sure, you'll still be the Tamerlane of the wasp world, but at least you'll be remembered as the environment-friendly murderer of wasps.