How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets | Yellow Jacket Control

yellow jacket, eastern All wasps will defend their nests, but Yellowjackets and hornets are the most aggressive. They can be distinguished from bees by their thin "waists." Bees are thick-wasted. Yellow jackets fold their wings lengthwise when at rest. If a colony is disturbed, the yellow jackets can become very aggressive and sting. Make sure to inspect for yellow jacket nests, before mowing the lawn or using trimmers. For most people, the yellow jacket sting is temporary, but painful. However for allergic individuals, a single sting may result in a serious reaction that requires medical treatment.

yellow jacket kit Top Recommendation: Walt's Yellow Jacket Kit
( Locate nest during day and treat at night)

Like all wasps, yellow jackets prey on a variety of insects and other arthropods. Yellow jackets will also forage on foods that people eat , especially sweets and meats. Yellow jackets are considered beneficial insects because they eat other insects. However, they are a nuisance to people because they are aggressive and leave painful stings.

There are several species of yellow jackets in the USA, the western yellow jacket is the most common type, found in the northern temperate climates. The yellow jacket colony will remain active for only one summer, after which the queens will fly away to start more colonies. The remaining ones die at the end of the season, and the nest is not reused (with the occasional exception of German yellowjackets).

Yellow Jacket Control Measures

  1. Sanitation ( to eliminate possible food sources) is important to reduce build up of foraging population during the summer to mid autumn . Trash containers should be kept closed and open containers should be emptied regularly.

  2. Killing The Nest
    • Locate Nests: Nests should be located during the day, so you can identify the workers entering and exiting the entry points. Look for multiple entry points and mark them.
    • Treatment: Only treat at night when it is dark. Yellow Jackets do not see well, and chances of being stung are greatly reduced. Also at night the whole colony will be present in the nest making the treatment more effective.
    • stryker 54

      Treat the nest with pyrethrum aerosols such as Stryker 54 Contact Aerosol, PT 565 or CV-80D. Pyrethrum forms a gas which will fill the cavity, killing the yellow jackets on contact.
    • tempo dust Wait until the aerosol is dry, and then dust in the opening with insecticide dusts such as Tempo Dust . The dust will prevent future hatch outs. Dust the nest, entrance and surrounding areas. Check the nest the following day, to see if the yellow jackets are dead which can be verified by lack of activity. Repeat, if necessary.

    • Spray opening at night with pyrethrin aerosol.
    • Wait until aerosol is dry (10-15 minutes), then dust opening with Tempo Dust (top choice for flying insects), Evergreen Dust (a botanical insecticide dust), or D Fense Dust.
    • Gotcha SprayerFor spraying the aerosol or using the dust in hard to reach areas, the Gotcha Sprayer Pro Adaptor fits on a standard extension pole to reach areas that a ladder is required.

  3. For best results, use Walt's Yellow Jacket Kit (Stryker 54 and Tempo Dust)

  4. Baits: Yellow Jacket Bait Stations

    • The Alpine Yellow Jacket Bait Stations are designed to be used with Onslaught Insecticide. You supply the station with fresh meat and the Onslaught. The yellow jackets are lured into the bait station; they ingest the meat/insecticide mixture, killing the yellow jackets. This is used during the spring and summer months for the most common of yellow jackets. This include the scavenger yellow jackets that consume protein and meat. These are the common yellow jackets, the western yellow jackets, and German yellow jackets. During the fall months, the yellow jackets prefer carbohydrates instead of meat.
  5. Trapping: Yellow Jacket Traps Yellow Jacket Traps are useful when you can not locate a nest. Use a lure like fruit juice or meat with: Advantage Yellow Jacket Trap

    • Place the trap away from where you are going to be, you want to lure them in the trap.
    • This trap is very helpful during picnics and cook outs, by drawing them away from you.
    • The traps come with a lure, however, meat works best in early in the season and fruit juice works well later in the summer and fall months.

  6. Care and Caution

    With a little care and caution, yellow jackets can be easily and safely eliminated.

    • Treat nest directly at night
    • Hang traps or bait stations away from children, people and animals.
    • For more information on baiting for yellow jackets Click here
  7. Yellow Jackets and Winter Months

    If yellow jackets have gone into the walls during cold weather, some of the reproductive yellow jackets may survive in the walls. They will come out in the spring looking to go outside. The reproductive yellow jackets rarely sting, so don't be concerned about it. If the nest is in a very warm location, however, the whole nest could survive the winter. Spray a pyrethrum can Stryker 54 Contact Aerosol directly into the entrance. Do this after dark. They are not as aggressive at that time.

    Nests should be located during the day, so you can see the workers entering and exiting all day. Mark the entry points. Treat at night only when it is dark.

    Any treatments should be done at night, because they are all in the nest. They don't see well at night and your chances of being stung are greatly reduced.


  • Size: 5/8 to 1 inch
  • Color: Black and Yellow or Black and White
  • They have a thin waist, in contrast to a bee.

western yellowjacket southern yellow jacket

Southern Yellow Jacket photograph by Jacopo Werther, Flickr

german yellowjacket

German Yellowjacket (Vespula germanica)


Yellow Jackets are of the Vespula species and are social wasps. Several thousand workers can be produced in a colony in one season.

Types of Yellow Jackets and Yellow Jacket Nests

Yellow Jackets are of the Vespula species and are social wasps. Several thousand workers can be produced in a colony in one season.

  • Yellowjackets found in structures: The German Yellowjacket, which orginated in Europe is located across the northeastern and midwestern regions of the USA. It is widely distributed throughout much of temperate areas of USA. The German Yellowjacket usually nests in structures, wall voids, crawlspaces, attics and cracks and crevices in the exterior surface of a building. The German yellowjacket has been a threat to the beekeeping industry. An entire colony of bees can be destroyed byt the aggressive workers. These Yellowjackets make nests of paper from fibers in wood and saliva. The German yellowjacket will reuse the previous year's nest.

    Yellow Jackets found under an otterman on a porch

  • Yellowjackets found in both stuctures and ground: The common yellowjacket, vespula vularis occurs in many states of the USA. They construct both above-ground and below ground nests.The Eastern yellowjacket mostly have ground nests, but aerial nest do occur. The Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa) has both aerial and terrestrial nests.

  • Yellow Jackets found in the ground: The Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica) and Eastern Yellow Jackets ( Vespula maculifrons ) make their nests in the ground. Many people refer to yellow jackets as "meat bees." Yellowjackets will also use rodent burrows for nests, enlarging the cavity as the colony develops. You can see small stones or dirt particles piled up around the openings of a burrow that is used to house a large yellow jacket colony. They will often use other material near ground level that has available openings, such as railroad ties or concrete blocks.

  • Aerial Nests: Some Yellowjackets, (D. areanara and D.maculata) build aerial nests hanging from a tree or attached to the eaves of buildings. These yellow jackets are not as aggressive. Use the Structural Yellow Jacket Kit in these situations.

Here is an excellent video from University of California describing the difference between yellow jackets, wasps and mud daubers.