Yellow Jacket Encounters

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  8/22/2018 1:59:45 PM

News article for August 13, 2018

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The dog days of summer bring about a decline in food sources for yellow jackets and pushes them to move in closer to human habitat in search of food.I have had several reports over the past few weeks of yellow jacket and bumble bee encounters.

Just in time for football season and tailgating yellow jackets can crash your party.The presence of food, sodas, wild game or fish is like an open invitation and they readily come and invite all of their roommates.They are fond of sugary soft drinks and you should be especially careful of setting down your soda outside this time of year.Drinking a wasp with a nasty disposition is no way to end your picnic.They are also meat eaters and like pet food and just about any food you put in a garbage can.

It is bad enough to have to protect your food but even worse is when you encounter them in their nest.Both yellow jackets and bumble bees will make a nest in the ground and they are usually not easy to detect unless you just happen to see them coming and going.

Yellow jackets are wasps and they live in a paper nest.These nests are about as large around as a dinner plate and they have multiple layers just like a high rise condominium.There can be enormous numbers of yellow jackets in one nest ranging from hundreds to thousands.

I have seen yellow jackets in the walls of houses and in seats of abandoned cars.They like the levees of ponds and firewood stacks.I have seen them in flower pots and in the middle of pastures.

Yellow jackets do not take kindly to you stepping in their nest, running over them with your lawnmower or tractor or running a string line trimmer over their home.They are tenacious in their pursuit and will follow you inside.

My last encounter with yellow jackets was but a few weeks ago while I was cutting my lawn.I noticed a hole in the ground near a stump.I could see yellow jacket wings flashing in the sun as they were constantly coming and going from the nest.Fortunately I got to see them before I got too close.

There is little value in using a can of wasp spray on a yellow jacket nest.The delivery is too slow and you will be eaten up before you can get enough spray in the nest.The better delivery system is with a bucket.I will make up about 3 gallons of insecticide solution in a 5 gallon bucket.At the end I add several ounces of liquid soap.The soap will act as a spreader sticker plus add weight to the wasp’s wings and slow them down to make for an easier escape.

I will wait for an early morning or late afternoon to make sure everyone is on the nest.I do not want the sum up but do want it to be light enough for me to see if the wasps decide to attack.Walk up quiety to the entrance of the nest and dump the whole buckets at one time, do not take the time to pour.A lot of the insecticide will go in the hole or drain into the hole.Drop the bucket and run inside.Observe the nest in 8 to 12 hours during the sunlight to evaluate your success rate.Repeat the process if any live yellow jackets are detected.

Use a household insecticide such as Sevin, Orthene or a pyrethrin.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

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