Trap Yellowjackets -- Prevent Stings

Robert J. Souvestre  |  6/30/2011 10:16:52 PM

Ingenious trap attracts only Wasps-Hornets-Yellowjackets helping to make your outdoor activities ‘sting-free.’[credit: Sterling International, Inc.]

A Yellowjacket feeding on leftover blueberry fruit.[credit: J. Payne, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org]

Forget the ants marching one by one – yellowjackets are the real party crashers when it comes to spoiling picnics, outdoor barbeques and other summer fun where cold beverages and meat are present.

Fortunately, a trap is available that lures these stinging, sugar-sipping pests to their doom. It is sold as the RESCUE! W-H-Y Trap (Wasps, Hornets and Yellowjackets) at local stores and national retail chains. This trap contains only an attractant to lure targeted insects to their demise.

In research studies, USDA scientists isolated two key compounds from fermented molasses to produce an attractant blend that lures not only yellowjackets, but also paper wasps and hornets. Yellowjackets and paper wasps become especially irksome later in the season when their foraging intersects with our outdoor activities.

The blend developed and tested attracts 12 yellowjacket species, multiple paper wasp species and two kinds of hornets, making it the most comprehensive lure yet. Once inside, the pests die by drowning or dehydration, depending on the compartment. Beneficial insects including honey bees are not attracted to the traps.

It is common for yellow jackets to enter soft drink cans, sight unseen, and then sting the inside of your mouth when you take a drink. Very unpleasant and potentially life threatening! It’s always best to pour soft drinks and beer into a glass so you can more easily see what’s in your drink. But traps help to redirect these insects away from food and drink reducing your worry about unwanted interaction.

Although some yellowjackets feed living insects to their young, their diet primarily includes nectar, pollen, dead insects, earthworms and other carrion. They also forage on sweet materials, particularly late in the season, and can be serious nuisance pests. But when a cheeseburger, hotdog, salmon or ribeye steak tempt them they can’t resist. After all – protein is protein. And what is a good meal without liquid refreshment? Sugary soft drinks and beer are favorites of yellowjackets. As they neither provide much in the way of pollinating plants as do bees, yellow jackets are usually considered undesirable around the garden.

If you have fruit in the landscape, wasps and yellowjackets may be attracted to split fruit and fruit pecked by birds. Removing old and damaged fruit will reduce the incidence of accidental stings.
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