How do you get rid of Yellowjackets?
The best way to prevent a yellowjacket colony from terrorizing your home and yard is to be vigilant early in the season. A nest that has a few dozen workers is far easier to eliminate than a thriving nest with thousands of individuals late in the season when yellowjackets become more aggressive to protect their future queen. Inspecting common nesting areas – such as a roof overhang, a tool shed roof, sheltered areas on a deck or patio, hydro boxes – and ensuring that all potential entry points are sealed is a good first step to preventing yellowjackets from establishing a nest.
If you discover a nest that is well established and causing significant nuisance or financial loss to your home or business we advise you to take extreme precautionary methods while removing the nest or contact a pest control professional to remove the nest and implement a physical and chemical pest control program if necessary.
How to identify yellowjackets
These social vespid wasps are the most recognizable stinging wasp in North America. The characteristic black and yellow bands on their abdomen are a warning to humans and animals of their painful sting. Yellowjacket workers are between 10-12mm whereas the queen wasp can reach up to 25mm. Unlike bees, these wasps are not covered by dense, wiry hairs. Their back and abdomens are slick and shiny. Female yellowjackets have a hollow lance-like stinger at the posterior end of their abdomen with which they can deliver repeated painful stings to humans and animals. Male yellowjackets do not have a stinger.
Yellowjackets are social, which means they have an organized nest with a single fertile female queen and a series of female worker and male drone wasps. They construct their nests on tree branches, shrubs or in human-made structures. They construct their nests out of fibrous materials such as paper, cardboard, wood-fibre or leaves chewed into a pulp.
Signs of a yellowjacket infestation
Wasps are a normal and beneficial part of the urban ecosystem. It is normal to see wasps around the home and garden especially where ample attractive feeding sources are available, such as a picnic, barbeque, sporting event, etc.
If you begin to see intensified yellowjacket activity in your home or around your garden, it could mean that wasps are acting aggressively to defend a nearby nest. If yellowjackets have formed a nest in a wall void, or chimney it is important to take action against this nest to prevent your home or business from becoming overrun with these stinging insects.
Addison offers a thorough inspection service for wasps which involves a 360° inspection of your home, crawl spaces, attics, garages, tool sheds and decks. By identifying carcases and live insects and locating the nest we work together with you to establish an effective, safe and environmentally sound pest control strategy.
How did yellowjackets get into my home?
Many species of wasps are solitary breeders that establish a single nest for a single brood and pose little or no threat to humans. Common North American species such as the yellowjacket and paper wasp, however, establish elaborate hive colonies with a fertile queen wasp, many non-reproductive female worker wasps, and male drone wasps that all fulfil different aspects of sustaining life and advancing the colony. Solitary and social wasps alike are most likely to establish breeding zones far away from homes and humans, but it is not uncommon for a wasp population to establish itself in the overhang of a garage, the soffits of a roof, in an unprotected wall void, or underneath a deck or porch.
In mid to late spring the fertilized queen yellowjacket emerges from hibernation and seeks out a sheltered, contained and quiet environment to establish the nest. If she gains access to the home through insecure flashing or soffits, or even through an open window, you are at risk of having an active yellowjacket colony in your home
What do yellowjackets eat?
Yellowjackets are scavengers and are attracted to garbage cans or other refuse sites, as well as any outdoor dining establishment. Like most wasps, yellowjackets are particularly attracted to foods that are rich in protein or carbohydrate such as meat, cheese, fish and fruit.
How Serious are yellowjackets?
Yellowjackets will generally take up residence at a distance from human activity, and should only be controlled if they pose a risk to human health or cause significant financial loss. The best strategy to prevent yellowjackets from establishing a colony close to or inside of a home is to ensure that all potential nesting sites are well secured and frequently monitored. Inspecting the yard, the eaves and wall cavities early in the active season can make the removal of a small nest very easy. Eliminating a young nest can be very quick and easy requiring little or no protective equipment, whereas an established nest with hundreds or thousands of yellowjackets can be difficult and highly hazardous to remove. The last offspring of the season is usually made up entirely of male wasps which will fertilize next year’s queen, and the colony will become very protective both of the virgin queen and the male drone wasps.
Eliminating feeding sources is a good way to make sure that yellowjackets aren’t attracted to areas where humans are active. Avoiding leaving high protein or sweet foods exposed during outdoor activities can ensure that a picnic or barbeque doesn’t become plagued by swarming aggressive wasps. When a single wasp becomes threatened it will release a distress pheromone which will attract related wasps to come to its aid. Preventing and deterring the first yellowjackets from arriving is more effective than swatting at wasps once they’ve arrived.
Many people have a severe anaphylactic reaction to yellowjacket venom which can be life threatening if they do not receive emergency medical attention. If an individual in your home is severely allergic to wasp stings, it is important to be extra vigilant within you home and around your yard for the establishment of yellowjacket colonies. If yellowjackets establish a nest close to or inside or close to your home you may choose to take action against the wasp population, particularly if there is someone in the home who is sensitive or allergic to wasp stings and venom.
How Addison can help eliminate a yellowjacket infestation
Removing a well established active yellowjacket nest can be done at home if the proper precautions are taken. However, because yellowjackets can swarm a potential intruder in the hundreds or thousands and are capable of stinging multiple times, it is highly advisable to call a professional pest control technician with the proper training and protective equipment to remove a nest from your property.
Protective clothing is essential to ensuring that yellowjackets cannot penetrate sting you during removal. All exposed skin should be covered by thick, impenetrable fabric. High boots, thick working pants, a thick work shirt and long gloves are all essential when removing a nest. Head nets are commercially available and can prevent wasps from accessing the face and neck areas.
Never use a ladder to access a wasps nest in an elevated location. If swarmed falling from the ladder and causing serious bodily injury is a very likely outcome.
Smoke from a controlled fire can be a good way to suffocate yellowjackets out of their nest without having to approach the nest. If you are able to light a fire beneath a nest, the smoke will cause the inhabitants of the nest to evacuate. After maintaining this smoke treatment for up to 3 hours, it is safe to knock the nest down with a stick, wrap in a plastic or cloth bag and dispose of it in the regular garbage.
If the nest must be removed manually, it is important to attempt it in the evening when wasps are less active. Approach the nest with a cloth or plastic bag that has no holes and is big enough to fit and completely seal the nest. Place the bag over the nest, and use your hands to detach the nest from its supporting structure, completely sealing the bag with a string or a knot.
After this either place the bag in the freezer for 48 hours or in a bucket of water with a weight to keep the nest bag submerged overnight to ensure that no yellowjacket survives. After this time it is safe to dispose of the nest in the regular garbage.
Because of the risks associated with nest removal, and because it is often difficult to access or locate a nest that is located inside of a wall void or in an elevated eaves trough, chemical control can be the most effective way to eliminate a yellowjacket infestation from your home.
It is important to engage a licensed pest control company to carry out chemical control since store-bought insecticides can be toxic, ineffective and environmentally damaging.
At Addison, we combine chemical and physical control methods to ensure that a wasp infestation is eliminated quickly and safely with the minimum impact on the environment. We use a combination of non-toxic residual pyrethroid spray and a crack and crevice treatment to ensure any yellowjackets in wall voids or soffits will not be able to survive.
Give us a call for a full explanation of our treatment process and no-obligation transparent quote.
How Addison can help prevent yellowjacket infestations in the future
Part of our service includes identifying and sealing potential entry routes in your home. We use spray foam and steel wool for small cracks where bees might have gained access to a wall void, and we can refer you to roofing or contracting companies for more significant structural issues that could pose the risk of further infestations in the future.