Yellow jackets are aggressive, dangerous insects that build huge nests on the ground. They like many of the same foods that humans consume, including protein, so don’t be surprised if you see one buzzing around your hamburger. One or two yellow jackets might not be a cause for alarm, but if you see many of these wasps flying around where you live or your children play, it’s sensible to try and get rid of them.
While there are many chemical products on the market designed to get rid of yellow jackets, there are a few easy natural methods that you should try first.
Warning: Yellow Jackets' stings can cause pain and itching, and unlike bees, they can sting you more than once. Always wear protective clothing like a face veil and gloves when getting rid of wasps. Seek proper medical attention if you are stung. Be especially aware of children who’ve never been stung before, as they could be allergic to a yellow jacket's sting.
Dish Soap Solution
The rule of thumb usually is to leave wasps alone if they are not bothering you because they are doing more good than harm in your garden. And, it's always better to prevent a wasp infestation rather than deal with one. However, if they are posing a threat, the dish-soap solution should be the first you try.
Wait until nighttime to try this method so that the wasps will be inactive inside their nest. Mix 5-6 tablespoons of either Dawn or Joy dish soap in a bucket half full of water. Then, before pouring the mixture down the nest’s entry hole, put on protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, cap, hat, and glasses. If possible, use a tool, like a gas can or watering hose, to empty the mixture into the nest in order to stay as far away from the nest opening as possible.
A cheaper alternative to store-bought traps, homemade yellow-jacket traps do just the trick. These traps are simple to assemble.
While there are many different ways to make homemade wasp traps, one of the most tried and true is by using an old plastic soda bottle. You can use any size. First, unscrew the cap and discard it; you won’t need it. Then, about 1/4 the way down the bottle, make a cut completely across. Now, you should have two plastic pieces. Pour a sweet liquid into the base piece you've cut off, likely about 2-3 inches worth, but the exact amount depends on your bottle size. Just be sure there is space between the liquid and the cap opening. This liquid can be anything sweet like old soda, juice, or apple cider vinegar. Then, add a few squirts of dish soap to it and mix well. Now, place the top plastic piece (the one where the cap once was) and place it upside down in the larger piece. The two pieces should fit snugly together, but you can use tape around the outside for extra security.
The sweet drink will attract the wasps to come in, but they won’t easily be able to get out. This is just one variation of the homemade wasp-trap method, but there are many more. Make sure that all of the wasps are dead before touching the bottle to dispose of it.
Natural Yellow-Jacket Insecticide
The most effective way to get rid of yellow jacket wasps is to use an insecticide. Be sure to choose one that is non-toxic and eco-friendly, as many insecticides are made of harsh chemicals. Always remember to wear protective clothing and cover yourself well with a face veil and gloves when you approach the nest to spray the wasps. The best time to spray is the late evening or early morning when most of the wasps are in their nests. Spray them from a distance of at least 10 feet. You will need to spray insecticide every few weeks or so until the yellow jackets are permanently gone.