How to Deal with Yellow Jackets
Enjoying your garden should be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. But have you found yourself batting away bugs and insects? Or seeing your garden overrun with these pesky pests? Finding a yellow jacket nest in your garden can be very distressing especially if you have pets or small children. You may find it impossible to sit outside in warm weather as your garden becomes the home for these buzzing insects. Although they may sometimes be mistaken for bees, this particular insect has a very different temperament and behaviour pattern. This is what leads people to want to rid their gardens and homes of these insects.
So we’ve put together a list of the best tips to tell you how to deal with yellow jackets. From treating stings and removing nests to planting shrubs that repel the bugs there are plenty of ways you can help rid your backyard of these pests.
Read on and discover how you can claim your garden back and spend your summer enjoying the great outdoors.
- The Yellow Jacket Life Cycle
- Diet of a Yellow Jacket
- Types of Yellow Jackets
- How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets Without Killing Them
- The Sting Reaction
- Treatment for a Yellow Jacket Sting and First Aid
- Plants that Keep Yellow Jackets Away
- How to Carry out Yellow Jacket Nest Removal
What is a Yellow Jacket?
A yellow jacket is the name for a common North American insect known around the world as a “wasp”. They get their nickname from their the striking color with and black contrasting stripes on their bodies. They’re often mistaken for their gentler, and more endangered cousin, the bee. They’re similar sized and they both have the same yellow and black stripes on their body which can be confusing. Other wasps, like the hornet, are also sometimes mistaken for the yellow jacket.
You might find them inside sheds or outbuildings, in your crawl space and even hidden inside rabbit warrens. If you’ve ever found a nest in your garden or outbuilding you’ll know not to disturb it as you can easily provoke these creatures into an angry swarm. They operate much like bees and can be attracted to rotting food, garbage and other human refuse.
Just like honey bees, the yellow jacket queen stays inside the nest and continues to lay eggs until there are thousands of larva, pupa and fully grown yellow jackets. A nest can rapidly expand and by the height of summer you could find what started as one queen in the depths of winter has now become a fully filled nest. When winter gets close, males mate and then die while a new generation of queens is made.
These queens then leave to seek their own nest sites and build their own colonies. This is why when treating the bug it is important to make sure you have completely rid the area as just one yellow jacket can create a whole new colony.
One of the first things to do is make sure you don’t have any food sources around outside that yellow jackets could live off. Un-emptied garbage cans, leftover food and even animal food outside can all attract yellow jackets and their larva. Keep your garbage in sealed cans and put your pet food inside rather than in the backyard and this will help to keep them away.
Keep sugary snacks and drinks inside. Remember, the yellow and black bug feeds on sugary snacks so if you’re having a dinner round the table outside and want to bring out dessert, perhaps skip it and take the party inside. If you have a hummingbird feeder then this sugar water can also attract yellow jackets.
Sliced cucumber is an old home remedy but can actually get rid of yellow jackets due to it’s natural repellant properties. The vegetable has an acid which yellow jackets hate so slice some up and scatter them around the garden before a gathering outdoors and it can help to keep them away.
Don’t wear bright colours. They are like bees in that they are attracted to bright colours. So put away that loud red shirt and wear something more muted to your next garden party! Killing a yellow jacket just makes the situation worse. If you kill one yellow jacket, it will release a pheromone which draws in all the other members of the colony. So although you might think you’ve gotten rid of the problem by killing one of the pests, you have actually made it much worse.
For a very small number of people, a sting from a yellow jacket can be life threatening. This is called anaphylaxis and causes very dangerous symptoms. Sufferers will get itchiness and a rash followed by a swelling of the tongue and throat which causes breathing problems, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea.
In severe cases, it can end in a loss of consciousness, coma and then could possibly be fatal. If you experience any of these symptoms after a suspected yellow jacket sting, then you need to get immediate medical treatment.
If you know you have an allergy, then you should always carry medication such as an Epipen with you to give yourself immediate treatment if you receive a sting.
Mint is a great way to rid your garden of yellow jackets, the strong smell puts off wasps from entering your garden. Wormwood is also a great plant for deterring these stinging creatures as the bugs also find it off putting. Lemongrass, similar to mint, deters the yellow jackets through a strong smell.
Treat nests in the dark as yellow jackets cannot see well in darkness and use a pesticide spray to soak the nest and remaining yellow jackets. You should continue to monitor the nest for a week or so in case there are larva or pupa that have escaped the treatment and are still alive. This works for ground nests as well as nesting that’s happening under sidings or in attics.
So if you’re struggling to get rid of yellow jackets in your garden and are facing an infestation and all the stings and nasty side effects that brings, hopefully this list has helped you.
Finding a way to stop yellow jackets taking over your garden is easier than you think and you don’t always have to resort to killing them. Try the tips for keeping them away first, but if you have already got a nest then there are plenty of safe ways to get rid of them. And there are first aid tips to treat a sting reaction if you do get stung while outside.
I hope this list will help you see that while yellow jackets are a nuisance they aren’t something you have to live with and you don’t have to resort to killing them or spraying toxic chemicals around to solve it. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be out in the garden enjoying yourself again in no time.
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