Yellowjackets & Other Stinging Insects
Late each summer, in many areas, insects such as yellowjackets are out foraging for food. Unfortunately, more and more, these insects might be out in areas where people are picnicking or playing.
Yellowjackets fall into the wasp family which includes insects such as hornets and paper wasps. The other major group of stinging insects, the bees, includes honey bees, bumble bees and carpenter bees. Though both groups have different characteristics, it is common for people to refer to all flying, stinging insects as "bees".
Not all bees nor all wasps are aggressive or likely to sting, but a healthy respect for these insects is recommended. Often, these insect sting simply because someone or their pet just happens to block the insect's normal flight pattern. If you've never been stung, we urge caution: a sting may be fatal for some hypersensitive individuals.
Location of Nests
There are a number of areas around a structure where these stinging insects may enter to nest including in wall voids, on the outside of buildings, under siding or under shingles. In other cases, they may build a visible nest that hangs from a tree or sometime inside a shrub or bush. The last place that stinging insects may nest in in the ground.
Yellowjackets and other Stinging Insect Management
Several steps may be taken to help manage yellowjacket problems. Bottle traps may be very effective in reducing populations of stinging insects. These traps are baited with sweet liquids which will draw yellowjackets in. Once inside, they cannot find their way out. The opening that they've entered through appears black and abundant light inside the bottle confuses them and obscures the holes that would allow them to escape. The bottle trap we sell is the Victor Flying Insect Trap. Black light electrocution type units are of little value because these insects are diurnal rather than nocturnal and are not normally attracted to such traps during the daylight hours.
Lawn sprays can reduce the number of stinging insects around in general, but the risk to other non-target organisms is increased. Premise treatment along the outside of buildings such as along eaves and gutter areas may repel insects from these areas.
In most cases, insects will enter through a small opening on a structure. Targeted application of known nesting sites with a insecticide dust is probably the most effective treatment and most ecologically sound. Dust formulations of insecticide, when applied at entry points, will be picked up by all incoming and outgoing insects, thus effectively eliminating the inhabitants. Del's sells Apicide, an insecticide dust, which comes in a ready-to-use applicator canister with an attachable extension tube for this purpose. Apicide contains 5% carbaryl (Sevin) which is very effective at killing bees and wasps due to their sensitivity to this group of products.
In cases where a nest is clearly visible, an aerosol product such as Whitmire Wasp Freeze may work well. It shoots a stream of product ten feet or more. It may be applied first to the openings at the bottom of the nest where insects enter and then it may be used to soak down the outside of the nest to kill other insects inside.
Because Whitmire Wasp Freeze contain petroleum distillate to quickly disable flying insects, use caution if the nest in embedded within a shrub or bush or if applying to a nest adjacent to vinyl siding. The liquid could burn surrounding leaves and may damage vinyl siding.