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Lawn & Garden

Killing Yellow Jackets



I believe that the saying is “Once bitten, twice shy”. This is my philosophy with yellow jackets, as I have been stung by them so many times that it makes it hard to see their worth as pollinators and beneficial insects more than looking at them as the evil spawns of Satan himself.


Unlike the solitary digger bees that keep to themselves and hardly ever sting, yellow jackets are social bees that will gang up on you and sting you repeatedly with their friends. You can identify a yellow jacket by its yellow and black stripes. Although it is a wasp and not a bee, everything about it is a bee.

There is no gentleman’s agreement with yellow jackets like there is with honey bees. Honeybees will let you hold hundreds of them without stinging you as long as you don’t swat them or make them angry. You will typically feel a yellow jacket before you see these underground menaces. One yellow jacket can sting you multiple times whereas most bees can sting only once.


Benefits of yellow jackets

Like myself, yellow jackets like to eat meat and sugary drinks. This is why we are so problematic at cookouts and picnics. Their primary diet consists of insects like beetle grubs, aphids, flies, caterpillars and other unwanted insects when there are no picnics to ruin.


How and when to kill yellow jackets

Because these bees are so aggressive and so many people are allergic to bees, there is little reason to not kill these suckers. These bees typically live in holes in the ground so their nest is usually found when it is run over with a lawn mower. All of the wasp and hornet killers sold by The Home Depot will kill yellow jackets. Spray later in the evening when the nest is settling and there are less bees flying around

Ortho 16 oz. Hornet and Wasp Killer AerosolSpectracide 16 oz. Aerosol Carpenter Bee and Ground-Nesting Yellowjacket Killer Foam

I stand 20 foot from the nest with a bottle of wasp killer in each hand and spray a 5 second shot down the hole. Don’t move around much as this will keep them from knowing where the source is coming from. After the first initial 5 second shot, pick off the bees that try to climb out of the hole or any that fly to the hole. After a few shots I typically keep walking towards the hole when the coast looks clear, spraying a large amount of 1 bottle straight down the hole. After this, the hole will become uninhabitable for them. The second bottle is a backup if things get weird.

If you are allergic to bees, have someone else spray the nest. Foaming aerosols work well because it foams up and pins the bees down in the hole, making them unable to escape.

Picnic season is also the season to get stung by yellow jackets and its right around the corner. Swing by and pick up a couple cans and be prepared.

Other Related Articles:

What are Digger Bees & How to Get Rid of Them

Your Introduction to becoming a Beekeeper

How to fix holes created by carpenter bees


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