How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

By Amanda Lutz Updated June 17, 2024

Yellow jackets are a common sight in backyards and other outdoor spaces. This type of wasp plays a beneficial role in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations, but their aggressive nature and painful stings can make them unwanted guests on your property.

If you spot a yellow jacket infestation around your home, don’t panic. There are ways to safely and effectively remove the yellow jackets and prevent them from returning. Keep reading to learn how to reclaim your space without getting stung.


How to Identify Yellow Jackets

Before you start the removal process, you’ll want to ensure you’ve correctly identified the insects. Other wasps, hornets, or honeybees require different removal strategies. You can choose the safest and most effective removal method by correctly identifying the stinging insects.

Yellow jackets are about one-half to three-fourths of an inch long and have striped black and yellow abdomens. Unlike bees, yellow jackets have narrow waists that give them an hourglass shape. They’re also smoother than bees, lacking the fuzz you’ll find on a bumblebee.


How to Locate Yellow Jacket Nests

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re dealing with yellow jackets, you’ll need to locate their nest. They can build their wasp nests in many different locations. You’ll need to look for both aerial nests and underground nests. Check on the eaves and siding of your house, in attics, under decks, in sheds, and around your patio. They favor areas protected by dense vegetation and may build underground nests in abandoned burrows.

If you can’t locate the nest after a quick look, you’ll need to observe the yellow jackets carefully. Watch for yellow jackets flying in and out of specific areas. They often follow a straight line back to their nest. Be careful while observing them, and maintain a safe distance to avoid getting too close or lingering in the area. That can provoke an attack.

Yellow jackets usually construct nests from a papery material chewed from wood fibers. They’re round or oval in shape and brownish-gray in color. The size of the nest depends on the age of the colony and can range from softball to basketball size.


DIY Yellow Jacket Removal Methods

Yellow jackets are aggressive insects, so attempting a do-it-yourself (DIY) removal method comes with risks. Prioritize your personal safety. Wear protective clothing—including long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a hat with an insect net—to minimize the amount of skin you expose to yellow jacket stings. Contact a professional pest control service if you have concerns or suspect it is a large infestation.

You can try a few DIY removal methods once you’ve taken the necessary precautions. Remember, these methods may not eliminate an entire colony, especially if it’s a large infestation. However, they can effectively reduce the wasp population around your home or help supplement other removal methods.

Dusts and Sprays

Use extreme caution when using insecticide sprays and dusts. To avoid inhaling any of these products, it’s recommended that you wear a respirator.

It’s best to use these products at night, when yellow jackets are usually less active, as this can reduce your risk of being stung. Look for products specifically for wasps and hornets, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Adhere to their dilution ratios, application methods, and safety precautions.

Here are a few tips for using sprays and dusts:

These methods can be dangerous if they aren’t done correctly. If you’re uncomfortable using sprays or dusts or can’t reach the nest entrance, it’s best to call a professional pest control service instead.

Natural Repellents

Natural repellents aren’t very effective removal solutions, but they can help deter yellow jackets from making their home in your yard in the first place.

These following methods create a less inviting space for yellow jackets.

Yellow Jacket Traps

Disposable yellow jacket traps are a common method homeowners use to eliminate stinging insects. These traps use a sugary attractant to lure yellow jackets into the trap, where they’re trapped or drowned in a liquid solution.

Here are a few tips on using yellow jacket traps:

You can also make your own yellow jacket traps at home. Cut a plastic bottle in half, then fill the bottom with a sugar water solution. Turn the top upside down to create a funnel down into the solution.

While these traps are somewhat effective, they may not work as well as commercially available options. They’ll also require more frequent monitoring and disposal.


When to Call a Professional

DIY methods can be effective in certain situations. However, sometimes contacting a professional pest control service is the safest and most effective way to get rid of yellow jackets. It may be time to contact a professional if:

Professionals have the knowledge, training, pesticides, and equipment to handle situations like these safely. Most reputable pest control companies offer guarantees, giving you peace of mind that your yellow jacket problem will be resolved for good.

DIY vs. Professional Removal

Here’s how DIY and professional yellow jacket removal compare regarding cost, effectiveness, and safety risks.

Cost

Effectiveness

Safety


How Can You Prevent Future Yellow Jacket Infestations?

Despite their reputation, yellow jackets play a valuable role in the ecosystem as pollinators. By focusing on prevention instead of elimination, you can keep these stinging insects at bay while allowing them to continue doing their part to pollinate flowers and trees.

Here are some ways you can prevent yellow jackets from infesting your property:

Creating a less hospitable environment can eliminate the need for removal methods and maintain a healthy ecosystem with a balanced insect population.


Our Recommendation

Yellow jackets play an essential role in the ecosystem as pollinators, so it’s best to discourage infestation rather than focus on elimination. Preventative measures such as maintaining your landscaping and removing attractants can keep wasps from building nests on your property and keep your outdoor space sting-free.

These stinging insects can be a nuisance, but you can reclaim your outdoor space using DIY methods such as yellow jacket traps, dusts, and sprays. Whatever method you use, safety should be your priority. If you aren’t comfortable with DIY methods or the infestation is especially large, you should seek the help of a professional yellow jacket control service.


Yellow Jackets FAQ

How do you get rid of yellow jackets fast?

To get rid of yellow jackets fast, you can use insecticidal sprays or dusts and apply them to the nest entrance at night. Use extreme caution, follow the manufacturer’s directions, and wear protective clothing. Professional extermination is best if you’re uncomfortable with a DIY method.

What keeps yellow jackets away?

You can keep yellow jackets away by using essential oil sprays with peppermint, clove, lemongrass, or citronella fragrances.

What smell do yellow jackets hate?

Yellow jackets hate the smell of peppermint, clove, lemongrass, and citronella. They like sweet-smelling perfumes and lotions, so it’s best to avoid wearing them outdoors.

Will yellow jackets eventually go away?

Yellow jackets might eventually go away if they abandon an above-ground nest in the fall or winter. However, larger nests and those located underground are more likely to remain.

How do you get rid of an underground yellow jacket nest?

You can try to get rid of an underground yellow jacket nest by mixing boiling water with dish soap and then pouring the soapy water into the entrance hole. This method can be very risky, so be cautious. It may not eliminate the entire yellow jacket colony, so it’s often best to call a professional pest control service to remove underground nests.