How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets

Peppermint oil, glass bowls, and dry ice are just a few of the natural ways you can rid yourself of a yellow jacket infestation.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To get rid of yellow jackets, you can block off the exit and entrance to their nests or use peppermint oil. But preventing further infestations is the key to keeping yellow jackets out of your property.
Yellow jackets in the wild pose little danger if you stay away from their hive. However, if you stumble upon a yellow jacket nest or discover that you have a full-fledged infestation at home, staying away from these pesky insects can be difficult. But with the right know-how, you can remove yellow jackets from your house without having to immediately call the exterminator. 
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How to get rid of yellow jackets, step-by-step

While yellow jacket infestations are usually temporary, they can be rather bothersome and even hazardous if someone has an allergic reaction to their sting. 
Follow the steps below to learn how to kill yellow jackets:
  1. Choose a yellow jacket treatment. Several products on the market may be used to take care of yellow jackets.
    , and
    are the most popular.
  2. Locate the nest (if you haven’t already).
  3. Determine the entry and exit points. Because yellow jackets live underground, you'll need to find the nest's entrances and exits. Look for holes in the ground that are well-defended by yellow jackets flying nearby.
  4. Apply the treatment. Wait until dusk or before sunrise to treat the nest, as low visibility makes it harder for them to sting you. Spray the nest's entry and exit openings for one minute each, moving in circular motions and covering as much of the interior as possible. Spray escaping yellow jackets before they can fly and get away.
  5. Watch the nest for activity. Wait 24 hours after treating the nest before checking for additional yellow jacket activity. If necessary, repeat the treatment.
Pro Tip Always use the appropriate safety gear when dealing with yellow jackets—wear long sleeves, gloves, pants, and enclosed shoes.

7 natural alternatives to get rid of yellow jackets

If you’re looking to kill the yellow jackets without the use of harsh chemicals, or you have pets or kids and want to be a little more careful, there are a bunch of natural ways to deal with yellow jackets.
Here are a few home remedies you can try:

Cover the nest's exit and entrance with bowls 

Identifying all entry and exit holes and covering them with glass bowls is one of the simplest ways to kill yellow jackets. The wasps are trapped inside the nest and starve to death as a result.

Dry ice

Get some dry ice and place it in the ground nest to kill wasps on contact. Cover any holes with dirt as soon as possible.

Peppermint essential oil

While peppermint oil will not kill wasps, it will serve as a natural repellant. Fill a spray bottle halfway with warm water and add a few drops of pure peppermint oil and a couple of tablespoons of dish soap. Spray it around the entry and exit points of the nest every few days for a couple of weeks.

Use protein bait

Fill a five-gallon bucket halfway with soapy water and suspend a protein bait a few inches above the water, such as a tiny bit of fish, liver, or canned chicken. The yellow jackets will arrive to feed on the protein, grab a piece that is too heavy to fly with, fall into the water, and die.

Destroy the nest

You can skip treatment and go right to destroying the yellow jacket nest if you're feeling courageous. Pour a 50/50 mixture of peppermint castile soap and water into the nest's opening, then quickly follow with boiling water. Dig out the earth nest and dispose of it after a few days of no wasp activity.
Follow these steps to destroy an aerial nest:
  • Wrap a drawstring sack fully around the nest.
  • Quickly close it.
  • Twist the nest away from the tree or house by twisting it from its anchor point.
  • Submerge the bag and nest in water, anchoring it with a rock or other heavy item.

Hang a fake nest

Yellowjackets are extremely territorial, and they will not make a nest in an area where they believe hostile wasps are already present. As a result, hanging a fake wasp nest can effectively drive yellowjackets away.
Imitation nests are a chemical-free pest control method that does not require refilling, disposal, or resetting. Simply place a few around your property to keep wasps at bay.

Use a Wet-Dry Vacuum

You can get rid of yellowjackets with a wet-dry vacuum (also known as a shop vac). Fill the tank with soapy water and suck up yellow jackets with the nozzle. The yellowjackets will enter the tank and drown in the soapy water.

How an exterminator gets rid of yellow jackets—and when to call them

To get rid of yellow jackets, an exterminator will perform the following steps:
  1. Inspection: They’ll inspect your property for nests and entry/exit holes, and also look for any pests that could be worsening your yellowjacket situation.
  2. Treatment: They’ll deliver targeted treatment to remove the yellowjackets inside their nests based on the location and size of the nests on your property. Exterminators will be able to sparingly and carefully use pesticides.
  3. Follow-up treatment: They’ll use additionally treated bait to get rid of any yellowjackets that weren't in the nest after the first treatment. This method eliminates individual yellowjackets and helps to avoid re-infestation.
It is best to call an exterminator if you are having difficulty locating the nest or if the swarm appears to be larger than you can safely handle yourself.

How to tell if you’ve got a yellow jackets problem

You’ll usually notice a single yellow jacket, at first, flying around your property—try to keep a safe distance behind it and see where it heads. Yellow jackets are not solitary creatures; if you see one, a full colony is not far away.
Listen for buzzing sounds, as an active yellow jacket colony can contain hundreds of insects, and the noise they generate will be audible.
Examine open garbage cans, the garden, and any other areas where they might have access to sugary substances. You’re most likely to deal with a yellow jacket problem during summer or earlyfall.

What do yellow jackets look like?

Yellowjackets are a type of wasp, so it can be a challenge to initially distinguish between them and honeybees, hornets, and other wasps.
They are roughly ⅜”-⅝” long when fully mature, and have hairless, segmented black-and-yellow bodies—yellow jackets are smaller than bees and have visibly narrower midsections.
Bees are typically less aggressive than yellow jackets. Honeybees and bumblebees only sting defensively, however, yellow jackets are easily agitated and often attack in response to sound or vibrations. They strike in swarms and will chase over large distances if threatened.

What attracts yellow jackets to your home

Yellow jackets may gather in your yard for a variety of reasons, including:
  • They’re pollinators, so the presence of a garden or flowers would increase the chance of a swarm
  • Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet-smelling objects, such as a can of soda, a juice cup left outside, or even perfume
  • Yellow jackets are predatory, and eat pests like spiders and flies—if you have a bunch of these on your property, you may see some yellow jackets
  • Yellow jackets will be drawn to your yard if it has a deck, a set of steps, holes in the ground, or an outbuilding with eaves or entry points. These are excellent nesting points

How to keep yellow jackets out of your home

When it comes to yellow jackets, prevention is the most effective treatment technique. To keep yellow jackets out of your yard in the first place, follow these tips:
  • Limit any food sources. Yellowjackets require protein to survive. Cover outdoor garbage cans and empty them frequently to limit their access to food. Clean up any outdoor spills as soon as possible, and keep all pet food indoors
  • Avoid scents. When going outside, avoid using heavily-scented perfumes and lotions. Try not to use strongly scented soap and cleaning products outside
  • After outdoor meals, make sure to clean up. If you've had a BBQ or picnic, clean up quickly and thoroughly. Yellowjackets will swarm if food scraps are left behind
  • Remove any pest infestations. Yellowjackets will be present if you have a lot of flies, caterpillars, spiders, or other bugs on your land. As a result, it's critical to treat and prevent underlying insect infestations to get rid of wasps
  • Take preventative measures. Hang fake nests, get rid of decaying wood and mounds of garbage in the yard, and use other wasp-repelling techniques. Yellow jackets are less likely to make a nest in your yard if it is unappealing to them

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Knowing all these steps can make removing yellowjackets from your home pretty easy—but the steps to cutting down on home insurance costs aren’t nearly as readily available. Thankfully, with the
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Unfortunately, yes. When a yellow jacket is swatted or killed, the dying insect emits a pheromone that attracts new yellow jackets from its colony—basically painting a target on your back as a last-minute form of vengeance.
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