yellow jackets

noinwiAugust 4, 2006

I hope someone can help me. Below is a picture(taken in June) of the raised bed I'm using(belongs to apt bldg). The orange circle is the opening to a yellow jacket nest that I've been trying to deal with for about a month. I've used two cans of spray, one being a foam, with no obvious results. I've found no other access to the nest. It must be deep. The guard YJ's have been harrassing me of late, when I'm trying to work. I'm not allergic, but I've been stung in the past and it's not something I want to experience again. They're right below my zucchini plants. I think they can feel me walking around in the bed, because they come after me even when I'm at the opposite end. I tried putting a container of jam laced with boric acid out today(works for ants), but they investigated then left it alone. I know the nest will die this winter, but it's only August! I was planning on sowing a few things for a fall harvest, but now I wonder if I should chance it. I'm so frustrated! Any advice is appreciated.

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Thanks Sherlock,
I checked out all sites and it looks like I'll have to use traps. I'd like to use the kind where they take the bait back to into the nest, but if I can't find one, I'll just have to use the "no return" type. The sprays I used were the kind that shoot 20 feet, and I sprayed from about 5 feet away right into the hole, completely emptying the cans. It didn't do the job. I do have Sevin dust, but no applicator to get it into the nest and I think traps would cost less. Thanks again for the info.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 1:38AM
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botanybob(Northern Idaho)

You can catch a lot of yellow jackets in the traps but, as big as the nests are this time of year, it is hard to make a big dent in the colony. The best time to put out traps is in the spring when the overwintering queens start flying. For every queen you trap, that is one nest that never develops. Traps come with a synthetic bait that works pretty well. I have had a lot of people tell me that baiting the trap with raw meat works very well also.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 6:43PM
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sherlock_holmes(z6a PA)

Here is another type of trap that is supposed to be effective.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 7:15PM
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With that last trap, I'd probably attract every YJ in the neighborhood, not to mention the labrador next door. It does look effective, though. I might try a weaker boric acid solution mixed with some catfood and see if they take any into the nest. I guess I just don't want to watch them die a slow death in a trap. I hate the thought of killing them at all, since they're good for the garden, but I have painful memories. Thanks, people.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 7:48PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

When such an insect sets up housekeeping in an area that infringes on your comfort and don't need to feel bad. Believe me, the worst is yet to come with their aggressive behavior. You won't feel so obliging in a few weeks, I'd be willing to bet.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 12:03PM
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tinamcg(Z5b Kansas City)

I learned we had a YJ nest in the handle of our hose reel when I was stung on the thigh while moving the hose. That was two weeks ago, and I've been battling them since. You can't imagine the effort and bravery it took for me to get the hose disconnected from the reel so I could toss the old one (I hated it anyway) and reconnect the new one. I got the old reel into a black garbage bag and moved to the curb, and when I got back to the house, the YJs were checking out the new hose reel.

If you do get stung, though, try AfterBite Xtra. I carry it in my pocket when I garden, and I applied it within seconds of being stung. The pain disappeared instantly and the sting never amounted to anything. That product is phenomenal.

Now we have a nest over our garage door. They're a nightmare this year.

Tina McG

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 4:39PM
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Well, I don't know if this just the calm before the storm, but when I was out in the garden yesterday, I didn't see any activity at the entrance hole and only a couple of YJ's cruising the garden. I'm hoping the sprays that I used soaked into the wood and had some residual effect and killed at least some of them off. If not, I'll be putting traps around the whole bed.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 5:50PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Do you have any kind of liquid insecticide? Any spray will soak into the nest very readily, as they are made largely of 'paper'. You'd be surprised at how little you need to do the job. Good LUCK!!!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 11:48AM
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I emptied a can of spray at the hole from about 5' away on two separate evenings. The first one was the regular shooting stream, the second was the shooting foam. The foam filled up all the nooks and crannies on the face of the ties. It may have taken a few days to do it's job(or so I hope). I was only out for a little while today(too humid), but I didn't see any activity at the hole, so maybe I'm safe for a while.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 11:15PM
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tinamcg(Z5b Kansas City)

We now have a YJ nest in a downspout. Crafty devils built it in such a way that I can't get the spray in there. It won't spray when I turn it upside down. What we need is a torrential rain to flush the nest out of the spout, but there's none in our forecast. I'd send the DH up there to flush it with a hose, but I don't want him swatting at angry wasps when he's up on the roof.

Tina McG

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 11:29AM
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Could Hubby drill a small hole above the nest and pour or spray the insecticide into the hole? The spray that foams will expand and fill the void. I think of the two sprays I used that one was probably more effective due to the expansion. It took a few days before I saw no activity at the nest opening. You don't want to do anything to the nest during the day. Wait until evening when they are at rest. If you use a flashlight, put red celophane or fabric over it as they're (supposedly)unable to see the red spectrum, and the light won't disturb them. Good luck and be safe!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 2:54PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

So, noinwi, have you tested that red cellophane theory? ;-) If not.....try it out and report back to us! lol

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 4:20PM
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No, I haven't used the cellophane, I read about it on one of the sites about YJ's. I should have clarified that...sorry. It was still light enough for me to see when I sprayed my raised bed, so I didn't need a flashlight, or I would have tried it. In any case it's recommended not to shine a light into the nest, so as not to disturb the little beasts. One thing I have tried is out-running them(stepped on a nest once)...and I can't...owww!!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 11:09PM
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sherlock_holmes(z6a PA)

I was asked to pass on this information by someone who isn't a member of GardenWeb yet.

There's a remedy I'm surprised not to see on here. Especially for nests in the ground pour a about 10 ounces of gasoline into the hole after dark. This way all of the nest is present when you do it and you don't get stung in the process. This may sound cruel to those of you who are sensitive to killing living things but it actually a gentle way to do it. Gas fumes are heavier than air and will displace the air in the nest. I don't know how it works with insects but imagine they would be like any other creature and quickly lose consciousness (basically fall asleep) through lack of oxygen and die. I've had large hornets nest out of reach range that I've used foaming sprays on to good effect, just make sure you hit the opening first. As for the downspout: perhaps soak (not dripping, just thorougly dampen) a few paper towels in gas and stuff them in the bottom of the opening (again: at night) maybe even put some platic wrap around it. I would think the fumes would build up and take care of the problem. Sounds like it would be a fire hazard but no more than most foaming sprays would be.

I've heard amonia works as well but it's not something I have around my house. This should go without saying but don't smoke when you do this. Your foaming sprays usually have this warning also. Be careful with flashlights also. It won't matter as much with ground nests as I've never had one come back out after a gas treatment. But if you spray a hornets nest they don't necessarily die immediately (or your aim is off and you just disturb them) and will head toward what they can see which will be your flashlight if it's on. You can also prop a flashlight aimed at the nest so that you aren't at the source of light.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 6:35PM
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The answer is almost too simple. I use Carbaryl powder.....something like sevin. Bees and wasps are very sensitive to it. It's easy to find, easy to use and has relatively low risk in the formulation one buys OTC. You don't have to poke it down the hole, or anything. You wait until it's dark and the activity of the nest is at it's lowest and you simply pour a little bit in/on/around the opening. Takes a few seconds. Then you scram and wait a few days. As each YJ enters the nest, she/he carries a little of it on their legs and feet and into the nest, as far as you can go and they are killed from the inside out. You assume the risk as for being stung. It's always a possibility. But, I do it at night by a flashlight and don't tarry.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 8:18PM
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I use boric acid as a spray for YJ's. I spray at night trying to saturate around the opening. If the opening was on a horizontal plain such as in the ground you could spray the opening to make certain it is damp then sprinkle the boric acid crystals on and arround the opening. The water will disolve the crystals and the damp soil will spread the crystal further. Not a lot is needed if you can get it arround the opening where they step as they come out of the entrance. Some time during the day they or others of the colony will clean themselves and ingest the boric acid. Be careful to keep any children or pets away because boric acid is a poison even if it is used as eye wash.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:27PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Boric acid must not be inhaled....that's where the problem is with mammals.

Maifleur, share the results of your boric acid spray. Did you mix it with water and spray it? If so, how much per how much water? Were the results immediate or over several days?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 11:27AM
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I used the equivalent of about 1/2 teaspoon in a quart of water. This was the amount that was listed on the side of the jar as eye wash. I was using a bottle of boric acid eye wash but ran out and could not find any more so I made my own. I will admit when I sprinkled on the hole I probably used about a quarter of a cup. That much is not necessary but I was mad. It took a couple of days to kill the YJ. Not all leave the nest every day so at first only the ones leaving the nest were killed. If you watch a hive there are some insects that guard the entrance as they exchange places they carry the boric acid into the hive. As I understand it, the returning workers are groomed to remove anything from their bodies. The boric acid by that time is so small that it passes to the groomers then the rest of the hive.

In reading what I just wrote I hope that if anyone uses this method they will use it carefully. Not every nest needs to be destroyed just the ones where you can not prevent coming in contact with YJs. YJs, wasps and bees are all needed for humans to live and have food. If the nest is on the other side of your yard and only prevents mowing leave it alone. Also be aware that boric acid will kill many things so use only when necessary.

An exterminator told me of this during the monthly spraying for roaches in an apartment I lived in.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:21PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I've used the hanging traps very effectively. They take about two weeks to fill up and are easy to empty out. I got tired of paying for the synthetic bait and started using small pieces of meat, which did the job just as well.

I've also stopped a large nest in the side of a hill by sneaking out in the middle of the night, plugging up the secondary exit hole, and pouring kerosene into the primary entrance and covering it. I think that got every single one of them.

I also agree that wasps should be left alone if they aren't bothering anyone. I discovered a wasp nest on a wall, and researched the nasty looking wasp...found out it was a mud daub wasp, non-agressive because it didn't form colonies, just made a few baby wasps...I used to watch it sweep the outside of the nest (4" long mud hut!) from up close and even when I bothered it, I never felt threatened...some wasps just aren't agressive and are very useful against garden pests. I may put a picture frame around the nest and leave it there for next year...


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 9:11PM
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Killing Yellow Jackets is very simple. Locate the ground hole and approach it after 10 PM at night. Get your mower gas can and poor in a half gallon of gas and cover with dirt. All the bees will be dead in the morning. You have no risk of being stung. The fumes will instantly kill them since gas fumes are heavier than air.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 12:03PM
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