Offense: Eradication Methods

There are four basic types of offensive tactics that can be taken to eradicate Yellow Jackets:

1. trap workers
2. trap queens
3. nest destruction
4. smash them one by one

Trapping workers by various types of traps is efficient and very effective if accomplished in early spring. There are three types of traps:

1. apple juice/honey traps
2. soap and water traps
3. pheromone traps

Apple juice traps can be very simple and inexpensive to make. Some simply use a narrow-mouth gallon jar with some apple juice and honey. There are more elaborate commercial brands for about $9.00 each which are very efficient for catching not only Yellow Jackets but also flies and moths. There are also some relatively inexpensive brands of traps that work very well.

You can make very inexpensive and highly successful traps merely by using a plastic bowl, and a piece of fish tied to the stick and placed close to soapy water. Soap causes the surface tension of the water to be greatly reduced, and when wasps or flies hit the water, they crash and drown in seconds. The meat must be suspended about 1/2 to 3/4 inch above the water. Yellow Jackets have an irregular flight pattern as a mechanism of predator avoidance, and this erratic flying does them in when they attempt to approach the meat that is suspended just above soapy water. NOTE: Some time in September, Yellow Jackets quickly change from meats to sweets as a diet, so be ready to change the bait as needed. Each year, this time of switching baits is a little different, plus or minus a week or so. Soapy water traps can be moderately effective when attempting to reduce the number of Yellow Jackets that are pests at campsites or barbecues. Place four to eight of these saopy water traps around the periphery of the area. During the maximum wasp period (July through October), this arrangement can greatly reduce the number that may be pestering you.

In a special tubular shaped commercial trap, one can place a natural chemical attractant called a pheromone. The wasps simple crawl into the trap but cannot find their way out and thus die. These cost about $13.00 and are only moderately effective for catching workers of some species and not effective at all for other species..

All of the above traps may be used to catch queens in spring or late fall. Trapping queens is an extremely efficient method of reducing Yellow Jacket populations. The very best month for capturing queens is in March. As mentioned before, for every queen trapped and killed, especially in the spring, there will be one to five thousand fewer worker Yellow Jackets during the upcoming season.

Nest destruction is by far the most effective and positive method of Yellow Jacket eradication. This method though is the most labor intensive and dangerous. One can find the underground Yellow Jacket nests by slowly walking through the area, noting concentrated numbers of these wasps. By carefully observing a suspected area, the nest burrow can be located with a little patience. One can also locate the nest by watching the flight pattern of several wasps to the point of origin. First spray the entrance of the nest with a hornet poison, thus killing the guard wasps. Then pour a poison such as diazinone down the burrow, then block the entrance of the burrow with a flat rock. If you object to using poison, simply cover the nest entrance with a large glass jar during the evening when the Yellow Jackets are inactive. Next day, the wasps cannot understand the glass barrier of the jar and thus the colony may perish.

Smashing workers is not advisable. When one crushes a worker, they release a powerful chemical (pheromone) which may incites other workers nearby to attack with fearless tenacity. Furthermore, this technique does little good for the amount of energy it takes to do so. So whatever you do don't show off your macho image by smashing Yellow Jackets.


Defense: Denial Methods

Techniques which reduce the number of wasps visiting the area as well as reducing the wasp populations includes cleaning, turning off sources of water and removing all garbage. Place garbage cans at least 10 yards away from food and beverage sources. Empty garbage cans as often as possible. Clean all counter tops and tables with clorox or other chlorine containing substances. The only food available to Yellow Jackets should be in wasp traps. As much as possible, keep the wasps coming to the traps!!


Suggested Program

Begin by setting apple juice traps in March and April to capture queens.
NOTE!! Yellow Jackets seem to be in very low abundance.  However, every one you see in March is a queen. 
For every queen eradicated, there will be 5000 less workers in August!  Set traps 100 feet apart in a perimeter around the area; 5 feet above the ground.
Rebait traps every two weeks with fresh apple juice.
Continue trapping until May 15.

If you are very careful, set out some poison bait dispensers every 100 feet.
Use canned mackerel (
3 ounces of bait to 1/2 teaspoon of Knoxout poison).
NOTE!! Keep poison away from children, pets and wildlife!! Traps must be suspended at least 5 feet above ground.  Use only approved, ecologically safe dispensers.These dispensers can be set fresh every 4 days through June and July.

At height of Yellow Jacket season, August through October, use apple juice traps again. Change juice every week until November.


There are several commercial non-toxic bait traps available for yellowjacket wasp control. It is important to know that no trap is good at rapid knockdown of yellowjacket populations. For effective use at outdoor events, traps should be placed every 50 feet, at least two or more days prior to the event. To purchase, try calling your local nursery or hardware store.

Approximate trap costs are:

Green Leaf Wasp EATER Trap - $7.99 to $9.99
Oak Stump Trap Farm - $7.99 to $8.99
Consep Wasp Trap - $6.95 to $7.99
Yellow Jacket Inn - $4.99
Victor Flying Insect Trap - $2.95


For advise and additional details on Yellow Jackets, contact these Web Sites:
Marin-Sonoma Mosquito Abatement
Ohio State Fact Sheet on Yellow Jackets
European Wasp Information Line

For additional suggestions,
contact Chuck Brown

Yellow Jacket Home Page