The Q&A Archives: Yellowjackets

Question: In recent weeks yellowjackets have appeared en mass. With an upcoming outdoor wedding reception that includes sweet foods for our guests, we need to deter or detract these pests. What can we do to trap or deter them?

Answer: The most common types of "pest" wasps are paper wasps and yellow jackets. (They are both also "beneficial" insects in that they eat many pest insects.) These are types of "social wasps", as opposed to solitary wasps.

Paper wasps are the ones that build those papery, honeycombed nests in barns and under the eaves of buildings. If possible, inspect your eaves regularly to look for signs that they're starting to build a nest there. If you do see the beginnings of a nest, try to get someone who's not allergic to bee stings to spray some water on the nest to scare off the wasps, then use a broom to remove the nest. If you find an established nest, it's better to call in a professional exterminator.

Yellow jackets are much more fearsome--and more aggressive--than paper wasps. These creatures build nests underground, then scout the local area for food sources. The first thing to do, then, is to remove any food sources around your home. This includes pet food and loose-lidded garbage cans; don't bring out sugary drinks in open containers (better to get a cup with a lid and built-in straw), and don't leave uncovered food around.

Planet Natural at

offers a botanical wasp & hornet spray you may want to try.

You can also try trapping them: If yellow jackets are the culprits, you could try a "Yellow Jacket Trap". You can usually find them at garden centers and garden catalogs. Although they are marketed as a trap for yellow jackets, I have seen a few other types of wasps in the traps, too.

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