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How to Naturally Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

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I really don’t like yellow jackets.  They are mean, can sting more than once, and will come at you by the dozens if you disturb their nest.  Finding a way to get rid of yellow jackets naturally hasn’t been easy.  Some ways have worked better than others.

No pesticides or toxic chemicals are allowed.  Hiring a bee exterminator isn’t an option, not to mention the cost of that. Don’t fret, though; getting rid of yellow jackets naturally is still possible.  Read on…

As with any other predator you are battling, learning more about their behavior, where they live, and how they survive will help to get ahead of them.  It will make you more prepared for war when the time arrives.

Before the war begins, let’s learn some facts about the yellow jacket and their behavior.

How To Naturally Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

First Opportunity:

Life History and Behavior of the Yellow Jacket

In early May or June, depending on the temperatures, the fertile queen will emerge from hibernation on a quest to find a place to build her nest and lay her eggs.  Sites such as hollow logs, creek banks, holes in the ground, piles of dried leaves, and lawns are a few places of choice.

She’s about 18 mm long and can be spotted fluttering around in a sort of slow bouncing-like manner, looking for a secure place to live. You can put your yellow jacket traps out as soon as the spring weather arrives and oftentimes catch her since she is very hungry and looking for food.

If you capture her, she will not lay her eggs, and the nest will not be built.  How do you catch her?    Read on to find out how…

Close up of a yellow jacket on a bright green piece of fruit.
Yellow Jacket on a green piece of fruit

Second Opportunity:

Don’t fret if you didn’t catch a queen. You will have other opportunities to naturally get rid of yellow jackets.

Once your queen builds her nest and lays her eggs, the first brood of workers is hatched around the end of June.  Your queen will no longer leave the nest.  The workers will become evident if they are close by.  They are ruthless if you disturb their nest by accident.

If the nest is not found, they will continue to multiply, and by  August and September, you’ll see lots of them around.

The workers’ job is to take care of and feed the queen and other fertile females inside the nest.  Workers are the little ones you see, several at a time, scavenging on garbage cans, in parks, or anywhere food is exposed.  They are gathering up food and taking it back to the nest and will fight you for it.

Red apple with several bites taken out and covered with multiple yellow jackets.

Follow Them to Their Nest

If you are able to follow the worker back to the nest, you can set up your trap close by and literally destroy a nest within a couple of days.  This article will give you some great tips on how to follow them to their nest. 

Now that you understand more about how yellow jackets work and live, let’s learn how to build a trap to get rid of yellow jackets and win the war.

We can get rid of them naturally by making a DIY yellow jacket trap.  No costly traps to purchase and no trip to the store to purchase them. You can easily make your own.

Yellow Jacket Trap

This is super easy to make and very effective:

Supplies –

  • Repurposed Plastic Container(s)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar or Sugar Water (your preference)
  • Bait (see below)
  • Liquid Dish Soap (optional)
  • Drill – with 1/8 inch bit

Using a drill, carefully drill several small holes near the top of your repurposed plastic container.   (Hint- yellow jackets are slim, so a smaller drill bit works best)  Don’t make the hole too large, or the yellow jacket will be able to find its way back out.

Random holes in a clear plastic container
Repurposed Plastic Container

Fill the bottom of the container with a bit of sugar water or apple cider vinegar, your choice.  (a couple of inches is enough)

Add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap.  The soap sticks to their wings and will help to trap them even better.

Yellow Jacket Bait Suggestions:

  • Raw meat scraps – (yellow jackets love protein)
  • Sandwich meat
  • Rotten Fruit -(Banana Peels, Strawberries, Apples, Plums, Pears -(all fruits work well)
  • Dry pet food (it will expand in the water)
  • Fresh Manure
  • Combination of all the above
Yellow jacket trap made from a recycled clear plastic jug placed on the ground amid green ivy.

There are lots of other foods yellow jackets will eat too.  This is just a small list.

Once you have filled your plastic container, replace the lid and put it about 10 feet or so from the nest you have located. They will be attracted to the smell.

The Way it Works

The yellow jackets will smell the stench and find their way into the container thru the holes.  Remember, they are persistent.   They get inside to devour the yukky stuff, and then once finished, they are unable to find their way out.  (Super nasty).

The longer the container sits or remains in the sun, the stinkier it will get.  This will attract even more yellow jackets out of the nest.  So plan to leave it for several weeks.    (YUK!)

Yellow Jacket Trap in Recycled Plastic Container
Full Yellow Jacket Trap

Carefully check on it daily to see how it is doing.  If it needs to be moved just a bit, go ahead and do so.  I have been able to catch hundreds with only one trap.

If you have more than one nest, make more than one trap.

Yellow Jackets can build almost anywhere.  Another pest that can be controlled without chemicals is the Cabbage Moth.  Get a step ahead of the horrible yellow jacket and be ready to get rid of them before they grow in vast numbers.  Happy Gardening!

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Recycled container full of yellow jackets with text overlay that reads Homemade Yellow Jacket Trap - Get Rid of Them Naturally

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5 thoughts on “How to Naturally Get Rid of Yellow Jackets”

  1. How come they can’t get out? Other than size, is there anything tricky about making the holes? Do you have to suspend the meat etc., or just dump it into the vinegar / sugar water?

    1. Hi Peter,

      Great questions! Its like the jar I keep on my kitchen counter in the summer with all the canning I do. I have a hard time with fruit flies and gnats because of so many vegetable and kombucha always fermenting. So I use a half-pint jar, put vinegar and a piece of banana peel in it. Then cover it with plastic wrap. Use a tooth pick to poke 4-6 holes in the plastic. It is covered and full. They are fighting to find a way into the banana peel. Yellow jackets are attracted to protein and will fight their way into the holes but then cannot find their way out. You don’t have to suspend the meat unless you want to. I’ve done it both way and both worked well.

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