Help control Yellow Jackets

It is not the season but I wanted to get a leg up on controlling these pests come summer.

They have been destroying my figs, sucking them dry. And then leaving them to a rotting mess. Last year I threw out about 20 lbs of figs, the previous year was 40+ lbs when my tree was larger.

I’ve been using these:

they catch a lot of these little buggers but seem to not make much of a dent in the overall damage.

Any suggestions?

We have had 3 unusually wet seasons in Kentucky…and yellow jackets have declined considerably in populations. (It did get nasty dry in September but still for the year 2019 above average rainfall).


Fipronil + meat bait stations. In a protective cage ,hung above ground , seems selective to yellow jackets.
Here is one link .


Really good stuff!! 90+% reduction with some tests is awesome when it comes to these little demons. Thanks for posting this, I will make use of it.

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My method:

Yellow Jackets nest in the ground and you have to find the
main nest that houses the queen. It took me years to find
the nest, but they kept coming back. I finally got rid of them
by tilling that area, applying fire ant killer, and covering it with
several layers of commercial grade landscape fabric.
It’s now planted with fig trees.

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I realize this may not be a super helpful suggestion for everyone here. However Paper wasps are a amazing beneficial insect and by far the coolest calmest wasp we really have available. It is thought that wasps may kill up to 50% of the pest insects in a year in a north american garden. If you allow them to move in they will most likely move out and overcrowd other yellow jackets and hornets and many times paper wasps are identified as yellow jackets (they got a smaller butt). I will try to find my picture of me putting my fingers right next to there nest.

You can also put out a bee feeder with a 1:1 sugar water ratio for the times that the wasps are hitting your fruits and they are hitting your fruits because there is a dearth of nectar. (not enough nectar producing plants flowering at that time to feed there young).

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Lots of good advice here, but putting your traps out in the spring to catch as many queens as possible is really important. Every trapped queen is a colony that never gets a chance to start.

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It is important to identify if your pest is a yellow jacket or paper wasp. Before I knew this I tried every trick you can imagine for yellow jackets and I never caught that many. Yellow jackets usually like protein and can be trapped with cat food etc. Paper wasps don’t really care for protein but instead like sugary foods. In my yard the paper wasps far out number the yellow jackets and do way more damage. They will eat almost all of my grapes and blackberries if I let them. I still don’t have a good way of trapping them. I read somewhere that red wine mixed with fruit works because they are attracted to alcohol but this didn’t work for me. Instead they seem to prefer easily accessible perfectly ripened fruit, go figure. The only way I have been able to control them are with sprays.


Great point Greg! Although, I do find paper wasps to be much more tolerable than yellow jackets. Yellow Jackets are so incredibly aggressive, especially later in the summer and while I agree that they love protein, I can’t tell you how many strawberries I have attempted to pick only to discover they were hollowed out shells full of yellow jackets.


No matter how you do it, get them early. Kill the queen, well in advance of her having an opportunity to lay 5000 to 10000 (or more) eggs. Trapping after the queen is established and in full egg-laying mode, is probably somewhat futile… :+1: for Fipronil and meat baits…

There are more than one species. German wasp ( Vespula germanica ), Common wasp ( Vespula vulgaris ), Eastern yellowjacket ( Vespula maculifrons ) and Western yellowjacket ( Vespula pensylvanica ), etc…

I don’t know which, or if is differentiated by species, but some build above ground nests. Similar to a hornets nest but smaller, on the side of a building or from a tree limb. Where I’m at though 90%+ of them nest in-ground.


We’ve never had that problem, here they only go after the split open figs when they notice the sugar, even then not a huge problem. Yet we usually have flowers blooming all year, maybe that helps?

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Does heavy rain reduce their numbers? I hope that is true as we are getting unusually heavy rain this winter.

It suppresses them in summer/fall. I actually would be interested to know what happens in winter and spring in that regard.

In-ground yellow jacket nests? They love to build right along the edges of a creek, in a very wet/marshy section of our yard. But then they’re not in their “nest” in winter. All the workers die, except for a few candidate queens, which are hibernating. Hibernating under a rock or behind some tree bark somewhere. In spring it will wake up, forage for protein, and inspect holes in the ground for a potential nesting site. Once she lays enough eggs and hatches enough workers, she’ll stop emerging from the nest. That window of time, while she’s having to forage herself, before enough workers can hunt and bring food to her… Is the opportunity to end that nest before it gets established. A nest that might have produced upwards of 10,000 stinging SOB workers. Can you tell that I have a passionate dislike for YJs? :slight_smile:


I can often locate yellow jackets nests by observation.
Mid/ late summer , when their population is high, I sit in a chair , usually with a beverage, when the sun is at a low angle, sun behind you looking over a field / yard.
Try to pay attention to bugs flying “up and down”
Yellow jackets usually fly more or less straight up / down about 10 ft or so from the nest.
This is easyer than it sounds if you pay attention.
I can often locate the nests over a large area, from quite a distance if I pay attention.
It’s good to know where they live.
So they can either be dispatched, or avoided.


Bingo… We’ve located multiple nests that way before too. Late in the evening, sun at a low angle, their yellow color makes them quite visible. They zigzag/undulate as they’re hunting, but fly straight back towards the nest. We stay alert to that straight-as-an-arrow flight, that streak of yellow through the air. When we happen to notice it, we start paying attention for the destination.

I’ve used gasoline to eradicate a nest in the past, in recent years I just pour in a bit of Fipronil.


And now for something completely different…

Try eating them.

Not the adults, the larva.
A few years ago I was reading about the insects that native Americans ate.
One was yellow jacket larva.
So about that time I found a nest, piled up some pine needles and set a small fire on top of the nest, they did not like that, and came out in droves to kill that fire, which killed most of them.
After about 20 minutes things calmed down. Hardly any coming out of the nest. Just foragers retuning from the field that seemed confused , and not aggressive.
So i bravely started to dig the nest out, keeping a smoldering fire next to it.
I , amazingly removed most of the comb without a single sting.
Toasted up the larva , and ate them,not bad , not very flavorful,not very filling , but nothing bad about them.
This is just something I wanted to try,( like ,yah , I did that once)
Returning to the nest site ( after "lunch ") i noticed another comb in there, as I reached into get it ,they came out and nailed me many times, they must have regrouped over lunch.
I should have stopped before that last round.
So if you are crazy enough , , try eating them.
Not bad…


I’ve gassed them… I’ve burned them… I’ve poisoned them… I’ve swatted, stomped, even taken out a nest with a shotgun.

I draw the line there though, ain’t gonna be eating 'em :smiley:


I had a problem with them a few years ago, and finally located the nest hole in clay soil behind the garage close to an old compost heap. They were quite defensive so I put it on the “to do” list. But for all the complaining I do about my Raccoon problems, it was just after the first hard frost that I saw where the Raccoons had dug down a foot and a half, torn out the nest and ate every living thing in it. No problems since then, but I know what to look for now. It was a really large paper nest, interesting to see but hope I don’t see any more!

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