5 Ways to Kill Yellow Jackets

wasps surrounding entrance to a ground nest
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If yellow jackets build a hive near or inside your home, you will probably need to find a way to eliminate them. However, these wasps are difficult to kill effectively, especially if you want to avoid being stung.

While you can minimize the risk of being stung by wearing multiple layers of clothing and working to kill them during the night when they are less active and their numbers are more concentrated, finding methods to control their population effectively is still difficult.

However, if you're determined to try to eliminate yellow jackets on your own, try these four methods.


Yellow jackets are aggressive and territorial. Unless your infestation is severe or in danger of growing worse, try to repel or deter them as opposed to killing them. Crushing or violently killing one of these wasps in the proximity of others releases alarm pheromones that trigger the others to attack. So, if you are set on a lethal option, make sure you can take out all of their numbers and not just some.

1. Boiling Water

yellow jacket

Boiling water is an excellent way to kill yellow jackets, at least under certain circumstances. It is a particularly viable way of destroying an inaccessible underground hive, as it can flow freely down into an entrance and kill the occupants. It is also a great weapon to use in your own yard because once it cools, the water poses no chemical or physical dangers to surrounding plants and animals whatsoever.

However, boiling water has its down sides. It is difficult to handle. It is also impossible to use on a nest that is up high, which is a common strategy that yellow jackets use to protect their hives.

It also doesn't work 100-percent of the time, even under the most ideal conditions. Depending on the internal structure of their hive, a waterfall of hot water may just make them angry. Definitely wear long clothes and a veil if possible if you attempt this method.

2. Projectile Sprays

Projectile sprays are commercial products that are designed to be sprayed on yellow jacket nests. They are nearly the opposite of boiling water in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. As projectile sprays can have ranges of roughly 20 feet, they are great at hitting yellow jacket nests that are high out of reach, and they are also excellent at killing yellow jackets from a safe distance.

However, certain chemicals can have harmful side effects and be dangerous to wanted plants or animals. Additionally, chemicals can hang around long after they have been sprayed.

Sometimes projectile sprays are the only way to wipe out a hive of yellow jackets effectively. However, they have enough down sides that they should be used sparingly, and only if other options are not available.

3. Kerosene Fumes

Kerosene or gasoline fumes are toxic to wasps. This is good for airborne nests. While wearing your protective clothing, take an open can of gasoline and position carefully so it's just below the nest. After a short time, the rising fumes continually penetrating the nest will start killing them.

4. Mint Oil

bee on the ground

Mint oil can be used to kill yellow jackets effectively. However, applying it to a flying, stinging insect can be difficult, and applying it to the entrance of a hive is no different than applying boiling water. Whether you try to spray nearby yellow jackets or drown the hive, it is a safety risk.

Plus, mint oil can be chemically poisonous to other animals, so keep pets and other peaceful wildlife away during and after your application.

5. Traps

You can make a yellow jacket trap out of a two-liter bottle. Simply cut the bottle in half, fill the lower half with sugar water, and place the upper half upside down inside the remaining lower half. Press down firmly and seal off the outer edge with tape so it is airtight. The end result is the lower half of a soda bottle with a small, funnel-shaped entrance.

Yellow jackets will be able to get in, and they will want to enter to get the sugar inside. However, they will not be able to get out afterwards. Doing this can seriously reduce the yellow jacket population.