Make Your Yard Less Attractive to Yellowjackets

By Chris Williams on July 9, 2014.

yellow jacketYellowjacket wasps don’t always have to be killed. They are considered beneficial predators because they feed on caterpillars and other insects. As long as they are not interfering with people, yellowjackets can be left alone. But, too often, yellowjackets cause problems with their behavior, which tends to get more aggressive as the summer progresses.

If you have pesky yellowjackets around your home, the best way to get rid of them is to find and destroy their nests, and the best way to do that is to hire a professional exterminator. Sometimes, though, nests can’t be located or they are on neighboring property and can’t be destroyed. In that case, there are still steps you can take to help reduce yellowjacket risks in your yard.

How to Keep Yellowjackets Away From Your Cookout

Yellowjackets become problems primarily when they are foraging for meats and sugary liquids (see “What Do Wasps Feed On?”). Reducing their access to food and water in your yard means that yellowjackets will have to go elsewhere. Here’s how to reclaim your back deck, family cookout, or pot luck picnic:

  • Eliminate water puddles and drips from hoses, faucets, or sprinklers. Worker yellowjackets are attracted to puddles of water.
  • Treat for any aphids or scale insects that are feeding on your shrubs and trees. Aphids exude a sweet “honeydew” that attracts yellowjackets.
  • Use “bee guard” caps on hummingbird feeders to keep yellowjackets from reaching the sugar water.
  • Consider changing plants around your deck from late summer flowering plants (that attract yellowjackets) to those that flower earlier or do not flower at all.
  • Pick up any fallen fruit or overripe or rotting vegetables in your garden that can attract foraging yellowjackets.
  • Don’t leave wet (canned) pet food outside. It’s meat and is a good bait for yellowjackets.
  • Pay more attention to your garbage cans and recycling bins. Hose them out to remove food odors, use plastic liners, and make sure you keep lids on. Rinse soda cans and bottles before discarding them. Make sure garbage cans at outdoor events are covered and well away from people and food areas.
  • Avoid drinking soft drinks and beer out of cans or bottles when outside because yellowjackets can get into the container unseen and sting the drinker. Pour soft drinks and beer into glasses. For children, use a cup with a closeable top or a lid with a straw.
  • Cover serving dishes at picnics and potlucks. Keep spills cleaned up and remove dirty plates and dishes promptly. Keep grill lids closed after use.
  • The breeze from a large outdoor fan can help keep yellowjackets away from food areas.

Photo credit: bob in swamp / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)



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