Pests and Diseases forum→Yellow Jacket Wasps

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Zone 8a
Birds Salvias Roses Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dragonflies
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OAP
Jun 12, 2020 4:01 PM CST
Does anyone else have a problem with yellow jacket wasps and other wasps? Is there anything I can use to treat my lawns that will kill their underground nests? Thanks!
Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we never know which one is which until we've loved them, left them, or fought them.
~ Gregory David Roberts
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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NMoasis
Jun 12, 2020 7:20 PM CST
Hi OAP. Even though yellow jackets are scary, our wasp friends are some of the most valuable insects in the garden. In addition to being excellent pollinators, many of them prey on or are larval parasites to numerous chewing crop pests. They deserve our protection.

Not all yellow jackets nest underground. Per Wikipedia: "Yellowjackets build nests in trees, shrubs, or in protected places such as inside man-made structures, or in soil cavities, tree stumps, mouse burrows, etc."
Other wasps DO nest exclusively underground, like this one:

Thumb of 2020-06-13/nmoasis/805af9
One of the Tachysphex species, she paralyzes grasshoppers and crickets and drags them to her burrow to feed her young. I have watched them do it--amazing! Anything that kills grasshoppers is my friend. They cruise around the yard inches from the ground. Other wasp species behave in a similar fashion.

I spend hours watching insects, and the closer you look, the more you'll realize how many of those blurry buzzing things around flowering plants are wasps of all sorts, and virtually all of them are beneficials in some way. I have a good insect field guide, but there are so many that look similar (and won't sit still!) that I have trouble IDing them, let alone photographing them, but I welcome them all. Yes, there are a few that sting, so steer clear of those. There are also flies and bees that mimic wasps. Are you sure of your identification? A couple of weeks ago I spotted this:
Thumb of 2020-06-13/nmoasis/6378d5
which is actually a bee, not a wasp. (Sorry for fuzzy photo, it moved fast)

However, if you're allergic to them, you have cause for concern. Do some research to see what their nests look like and then try to find and destroy them, but JUST the yellow jacket nests, only if you must. Maybe get some professional help if there are a lot of them.

Sorry to sound preachy, but our global insect population is in serious decline because we keep killing a thousand insects for every one that bothers us. I know from your past posts that you are eager to improve the health of your garden...encouraging wasps and other pollinators is one part of that process.





For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Zone 8a
Birds Salvias Roses Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dragonflies
Bee Lover Ferns Butterflies Irises
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OAP
Jun 12, 2020 7:38 PM CST
We have an over abundance of them here. I was stung in the face a couple of week ago after I bumped a decorative iron bell by my back door where one was building a nest. Last Autumn, a neighbour moved, and afterward a HUGE nest was discovered behind her screen door because she kept it propped open 365 days a year. I guess she never noticed they were building a nest there.

I catch them crawling behind the electric box to build nests. They crawl behind the siding all over the house to build nests. They build them on the porch (I always knock these down pretty quickly), and even under the rim of my dustbin. My dog has been stung in the face near his eyes twice.

I am sorry, but I do not see wasps as our friends around here. I think they may also be responsible for keeping the honeybees away from the garden. I want them gone. I was reading today that one can hang a faux wasp nest near one's house, and because they are fiercely territorial, once they spy it, they will stay away. They will not come within 200 ft. of another colony's nest. So, that is something to think about, too. I read, however, that the faux nests should be hung in the Spring before the wasps arrive. I am not sure it would work now in mid June, but I am going to try it. I welcome honeybees, but wasps (yellow jackets are wasps) are not welcome around here. Sorry.
Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we never know which one is which until we've loved them, left them, or fought them.
~ Gregory David Roberts
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Jun 12, 2020 9:21 PM CST
Yikes! That sounds like a job for an exterminator, who should know exactly how to eradicate them. A brief google search pulled up a lot of information, the main takeaway being to pinpoint the nest (versus spreading something on your lawn). The DIY info looked pretty intimidating, e.g. do it at night, wear full protective gear, etc., and know what you're doing.

I certainly didn't mean to suggest that you should tolerate being stung for the health of your garden. Some years there are outbreaks of particular insects that can make life miserable and you have to take action. But please remember that there are thousands of species of wasps in the US, and only a handful are stinging pests...so don't hate them all Crying .

Good luck!
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Zone 8a
Birds Salvias Roses Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Dragonflies
Bee Lover Ferns Butterflies Irises
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OAP
Jun 13, 2020 12:26 PM CST
I do not hate them really. I find it difficult to hate any form of life (roaches absoluely excepted Thumbs down ), but around here they are much more of a nuisance than a help. We also have a pretty bad mosquito and fly problem because too many people leave standing water and trash on their patios and do not mow their grass regularly. If I could waive a magic wand and get rid of anything, it would definitely be the mosquitoes, roaches, and at least 80% of the wasps.

I have been in this property for several years now, and I know a lot of the problems around here come from a small and very poorly maintained multi-family property one street over. They have two dumpsters that are CONSTANTLY overflowing with trash that blows up into my drive regularly, etc. I complained to Code once or twice a year, but nothing was solved. They would clean up, and within a week or two, the problem was returned.

Finally, this year, I complained to Code every time their dumpsters either were overflowing or their tenants simply left garbage on the ground around the dumpsters---something I do not understand at all. Dumpsters are made to collect the garbage. You walked all the way to the dumpster with your garbage, why would you leave it on the ground instead of putting it in the dumpster so long as there was space????? I spoke to the manager a few times because one of the tenants was leaving his bags of garbage along side the back of the building about 30 ft. from the dumpster regularly for no discernible reason. Likewise, some of the tenants have dogs and will walk their dogs on the grass of the houses nearby, including mine, without picking up behind their dogs, even though city ordinance forbids it. The manager was tolerating all of this until this year. This year I was like a dog with a bone. After all these years, I could no longer tolerate half hearted efforts to keep the dumpsters emptied regularly enough and to stop the tenants from leaving garbage on the ground and letting their dogs defecate on my back garden. I reported every offence to Code and to Animal Control. So, far it seems to be working. The last couple of weeks I have seen no garbage on the ground, and the dumpsters have not been allowed to reach over capacity. My back garden bed is free from dog waste, too. I have no idea how long they will continue responsibly, though, so I plan to install security cameras soon. That way, I can identify exactly who is doing these things and hand the evidence over to Code and/or to police. Once again, though, I bear the cost to protect myself and my property from irresponsible, dirty people. Not happy about it, but I cannot afford a better neighbourhood than this one, so this is the best I can do.

In the final analysis, the upshot is a lot of people will try to push off the costs of maintaining their property onto their neighbours. Those dumpsters, for example, kept an horrible fly problem and rat problem fed---literally. Other neighbours will not mow until Code threatens to mow for them and charge them for it. Their yards full of tall grass and weeds harbour tons of mosquitoes and provide shelter for rats, mice, and snakes. They simply could not care less. Most of these properties are rentals. Many owners live out of town and even out of state. A few live in town in MUCH nicer neighbourhoods than this one. Either way, so long as they collect their rents, they really do not care about the health and well being of the people here. They have never heard of the concept of enlightened self-interest.

I found that I have to contact Code, and occasionally police, to try to keep things here reasonably maintained. Bad landlords and uncaring, often dirty tenants are the basis for a lot of "pest" problems. For example, one neighbour had all sorts of bulk trash type items on his patio next door FOREVER. It was waist high and had begun to overflow through the fence onto my property. Code finally made him clear it out, but before he did so, I know tons of wasps built nests in there, and mice and rats made their homes amongst it all. On the one hand, I have no inherent hatred of wasps and rats, but on the other hand, I cannot tolerate them living next to me in such abundance that they spill over onto my property and cause other problems for the area.

I suppose if wasps were left to find natural nesting places here and there, they would not be such a problem right now, but they have overgrown the area thanks to poor property management. Anyway, that about sums up what I am facing and what I can do about it. The occasional wasp here and here will not bother me.
Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we never know which one is which until we've loved them, left them, or fought them.
~ Gregory David Roberts
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
MsDoe
Jun 17, 2020 11:22 AM CST
Wow, sounds like quite a problem with the neighbors.
About the yellow jackets--when they nest too close to you they become pests. Around here they just get more aggressive as it gets closer to Fall. They will fiercely defend their nest, wherever it is. I strongly recommend hiring a pest control company to exterminate any nests you find on your property. Wait safely indoors while they do their work!
It's hard to get the neighbors to clean up, I think you are doing the right thing complaining to Code Enforcement.

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