How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets and Save Your Summer

A portrait of a yellow jacket on a white background.
A portrait of a yellow jacket on a white background.

There is nothing sweeter than family get-togethers, grill-outs, and the warm Minnesota sun on your skin. For a brief moment, it seems as though nothing can get in your way of a perfect summer. That is until the flock of bugs emerge, and worst of all, the dreaded yellow jackets. 

Insects can dramatically hinder your happiness this season. If you find an infestation in your yard, here’s how to get rid of yellow jackets safely. 

Environmental Pest Management offers pest control services in the Metro Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. We use safe products for both the environment and your family. Make your summer the best yet with a yellow jacket-free yard and home when you give us a call

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket

A closeup side view of a yellow jacket.

To the untrained eye, a honey bee and a yellow jacket might be the same. While they look similar, their behavior can be very different, with yellow jackets being more aggressive. There are several things to look for to spot a yellow jacket. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that a yellow jacket is less furry than a honey bee and a bumblebee. The fur on a bee helps it pollinate plants. Yellowjackets rely on hunting insects and even seeking out human food instead of feeding from plants.  

The predatory nature of yellow jackets also leads them to travel in larger groups than other types of stinging insects. If you see a swarm, you are much more likely to be looking at a yellow jacket. You are more likely to see them swarm in the summer season when their preferred insect meals become less plentiful.  

The final and most obvious way to tell is by the black and yellow bodies that motivated the name. It’s true that bees also have striping, but it is more visible on a yellow jacket due to having less fur. You can notice the striping more when looking at the head of the insect. 

Yellowjackets don’t exclusively nest underground but are the most likely to do so. They are most likely to occupy a hole dug by a rodent. If you see many insects flying out of a hole in the summer, you are likely observing a yellow jacket nest.

Yellow Jacket Nests

A yellow jacket nest underground. The first thing to consider when figuring out how to get rid of yellow jackets is locating their nest.

The unfortunate thing about yellow jackets is that they can pretty much be found anywhere humans are located. This is because they prefer eating many of the same foods that we do. 

Yellow Jackets fly in a straight line, known as a beeline, useful if you try to locate a potential nest location. Look for an area in your yard that is hit directly by the sun, and see if you can notice any insects flying by repeatedly. If you see this, you are likely to be close to a hive.

It is a common misconception that bees and yellow jackets only create hives above ground. This is, unfortunately, not the case. Check rodent holes for nests, and if they are empty, make sure to fill these holes. Be careful and watch your step in case there are other nests nearby. 

You are most likely to notice a yellow jacket nest in late summer and early fall. The rest of the year, the low overnight temperatures are still too low for active bugs.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets Safely

A single yellow jacket building a small nest

If you feel like you have a Yellow Jacket nest nearby, locate and mark the yellow jacket nests in broad daylight.

It is not recommended for you to try to get rid of Yellow Jackets yourself. Yellow Jackets are highly aggressive, and even seasoned technicians get stung when trying to treat this pest.

If a Yellow Jacket gets squashed, it releases a pheromone that attracts and incites others of its species. Because of this, people often find themselves getting stung multiple times.

For these reasons, it’s recommended you get a professional to get rid of the nest. Then, you can take preventative measures to deter them from coming back.

How to Prevent Yellow Jackets

A lemon tree with fallen fruit on the ground. Rotting fruit can attract yellow ajckets and other pests to your yard.

When gathering outside, there are ways to prevent those pesky yellow jackets from joining you in the first place. Inspect your yard frequently to stay on top of everything. 

If you have pets or problems with other kinds of pests, you may have a yard full of several holes. Work on filling the holes with dirt to prevent yellow jackets from creating underground nesting hives.

Scraps of cardboard and old wood should be discarded or stored securely. Yellowjackets will frequently build nests out of this kind of material. 

Outside trash containers should be regularly cleaned and sprayed with insecticides before filling the bin. Double-check that the lids fit tightly, so there is no room for the bugs to sneak in. Don’t carelessly dispose of food, be sure to put food in air-tight bags first. Keeping the outside of the bins clean will also help prevent them from looking around this area for a food source. 

If you have a garden or fruit trees in your yard, keep an eye for falling produce. Rotten fruit lying around is a big attractor for yellow jackets, and clearing them out of the way will go a long way. 

Who Can I Call if I Need Assistance to Get Rid of Yellow Jackets?

Three yellow jackets in a glass of lemonade

Environmental Pest Management offers pest control services in the Metro Twin Cities area and surrounding suburbs. We use safe products for both the environment and your family. Contact us today for a free quote, and spend the rest of your summer relaxing.

Protect Your Home and Yard From These Stinging Insects

A portrait of a yellow jacket isolated on a white background
A portrait of a yellow jacket isolated on a white background

Summertime is a season of sun, vacation, backyard barbecues. Inevitably, it’s also the season of stinging insects. 

How can you best prevent those pesky wasps, hornets, and bees from interrupting your party? 

Protect your yard and home from unwanted stinging insects, call the experts and connect with Environmental Pest Management for a free quote today.

Wasps, hornets, and bees: what’s the difference?

Wasps and hornets can be quite an annoyance at your garden party. Being more aggressive, they are harder to deal with than the friendly bee. 

Wasps and hornets

Appearance 

A portrait of a wasp, a common stinging insect.

Wasps appear armor-plated with a sleek, hairless body. The most common wasps in Minnesota are yellow jackets and paper wasps.

Yellowjacket wasps are yellow and black. Their thorax ends with a pointy tip. 

Paper wasps have a segmented body with a thin waist. They have dark coloring with smokey black wings.

Hornets are a wasp, but their bodies are a little rounder than yellow jackets or paper wasps. 

Social hives versus solo-resident nests 

Wasps building a nest on a building.

When wasps and hornets live communally, you can find their nests in trees, under the eaves of a house, or porches. These stinging insects can also live in individual nests usually found in sand or soil locations.

They raise their young in communal hives. Like honey bees, wasps and hornets have a single queen.

Wasps and hornets generally are not interested in humans unless they are defending their nests. The stinging insects are quite territorial, and if you come within a yard of their nest or hive, these insects may attack you. 

Carnivorous hunters

A yellowjacket eating a piece of salmon.

Wasps are predators and use their stingers offensively and defensively. They sting to stun or kill their prey, and they sting to ward off threats. 

Wasps can sting their target multiple times.

Wasps and hornets are essential in helping control the population of small insects. They also feed on sweet nectars from flowers and fruit trees. 

Honey bees or bumblebees

While these flying insects can also sting, they are generally much less aggressive. 

Appearance 

A portrait of a honey bee, isolated on a white background. Tehy are a common stinging insect.

Honey bees are yellow and black flying insects that grow fuzz or fur on their bodies. The presence of hairs on the bee’s body helps you differentiate them from yellow jackets. 

Bumblebees are rounder and plumper than honey bees. They also have black and yellow stripes and fuzz all over their bodies. 

Communal hives

Bee keepers checking on their honey bee hives.

Honey bees live in hives with a single queen, and their nests are often found in trees. Bumblebees live in holes in the ground. 

Helpful and hairy

A bee covered in plant pollen

Bees are helpful pollinators, and much of our fruit, grain, and vegetable production depends on them. Pollen attaches to their hairy bodies and is deposited to other flowers as they fly from bloom to bloom. 

While generally less aggressive, honey bees can only sting once, then die. If possible, do not kill honey or bumblebees, as they are important to our ecosystem and can be considered a beneficial insect

What happens when you get stung?

No question, stinging insects no fun. What is a stinger’s anatomy, and what is the biological response in your body after you get stung?

History of the stinger

A closeup of a wasp or yellow jacket stinger

In prehistoric times, the stinger was not for attacking but instead was how female wasps laid their eggs. This anatomical feature is why only female wasps and hornets have stingers. 

Anatomy of the stinger

Wasp venom is produced and stored in a sac near the stinger. The poison seeps out through valves, which leads to the sheath which holds the stinger.

The smooth stinger is coated in venom. The wasp is always ready to respond to a threat or attack. 

When you are stung by an insect, your body has a few biological reactions—the most common being: pain, redness at the site, and swelling. 

Why does it hurt?

A close up of a bee sting on someone's arm.

Peptides and enzymes in venom will break down cellular membranes in your skin. When neuron cells are affected, the injured cells send a signal to the brain. 

That message translates into the sensation of pain. 

Another element in stinger venom is a chemical that acts like norepinephrine. This chemical slows blood flow, which causes the pain to continue for several minutes.  

Hyaluronidase and MCDP (Mast Cell Degranulating Peptide) are also present in venom. They potentiate the enzymes that break down cell walls in your skin, which is why wasp and bee sting often lead to swelling and redness in the area. 

How to prevent wasp and bee stings

A group of yellow jackets on a table.

While it can be challenging to avoid stinging insects entirely in the summer, here are some great tips to encourage them to stay away from you and your loved ones.

  • Minimize wearing strong perfumes or scents.
  • Food smells especially attract wasps. When eating outside, clean up food scraps and leftovers quickly.
  • Avoid wearing dark colors and bright floral patterns as they are all attracted to these colors.  
  • Keep outdoor waste cans away from where people may be congregating as wasps are attracted to garbage. 
  • Wear closed-toe shoes if possible when walking on the grass. 

Most importantly, nests found near your home or in areas where people gather must be safely removed. It can be very dangerous to your health if the wasps or bees become angry and aggressive, so don’t try to remove them yourself.

Especially if you have an allergy to bee venom, do not attempt to remove a nest yourself. 

At Environmental Pest Management, we have Master Licensed Technicians who can help. Our team specializes in integrated pest management, which allows us to address a pest control or insect problem by non-chemical means. 

Call us if you would like to set up a free inspection to help you have a sting-free summer. We are masters at creating harmony between humans and the natural world around them.