An Effective and Non-Toxic Solution for Getting Rid of Yellow Jackets’ Nests


| 6/23/2011 11:46:00 AM


Tags: yellowjackets, yellow jackets, pests, insects, insecticides, natural insecticides, pest control, pesticides, bees, honeybees, non-toxic, peppermint, mint, Miriam Landman,

I’m not someone who delights in killing pests, and I don’t often advocate for their demise. In fact, I usually do my best to avoid killing them (for example, if an indoor spider gets too close for comfort, I usually capture it in a jar and release it outside). Last summer, however, I had to make an exception to my live-and-let-live policy, when I noticed that yellow jackets had built an active nest right next to the front door of our house.

Yellow Jacket photo by D GrieblingIt was an underground nest in a flower bed along a pathway. There were so many yellow jackets coming and going from the nest throughout the day that we couldn’t keep our front door open for very long, and I worried that our dog would inadvertently step on the entry to the nest and get swarmed and attacked. Furthermore, I learned that yellow jackets sometimes raid honeybee hives to steal their honey, and they have been known to kill honeybees in the process. This is a sufficiently good reason to get rid of the jackets, in my opinion. Some of our neighbors have honeybee hives, so it felt like killing these yellow jackets was a just and neighborly thing to do.

(Honeybees are suffering from a Colony Collapse Disorder. Note: If you have a problem with a swarm, nest, or hive, check out online photos of bees, yellow jackets, hornets, etc. to make sure you know which of these you’re dealing with. Honeybees and other pollinators are extremely important, and they almost never sting; please don’t kill them.)

I didn’t want to use toxic insecticides, which could kill the flowers in our garden and poison our dog and the honeybees, along with the soil and groundwater around our house. So, thinking we were being clever, my husband and I tried putting the garden hose down the nest entry hole and flushing the nest out with water. This scheme did not work. We tried it a few evenings in a row, and the tenacious buggers would shoot out of the nest alive (seemingly unfazed by the water) and quickly rebuild a new entry hole. One evening, they went into attack mode and my husband got stung. They won these battles, but we were determined to outsmart them and win the war — without resorting to the use of Raid, professional chemical insecticides, gasoline, or any of the other toxic and hazardous substances that are commonly suggested.

So I started researching non-toxic solutions. Through my online reading, I learned that mint oil can kill almost any insect, and that yellow jackets also don’t like soapy or boiling water… We happened to have a quart-size container of Dr. Bronner’s “magic” organic peppermint castile liquid soap in the house. The bottle was only half full, so we filled the rest of it up with water to make it a 50% diluted quart. Then we waited ‘til it was almost dark outside (this is the only time you should ever deal with yellow jackets, as they’re all inside the nest and inactive at night). We poured the quart down the nest’s entry hole (it’s best to do this with an extension device, like a hose or a gas can or watering can, to keep your body further from the nest opening — and you should also wear protective clothing). We immediately followed that up by pouring in a kettle full of boiling hot water, which washed the mint oil further down into the nest. We didn’t see a single yellow jacket emerge from the nest that night, and we haven’t seen any around here since. It worked!

RECIPE 

kelly
9/18/2017 8:22:08 PM

I have a large nest of yellow jackets between the siding and interior wall of my house on a covered porch. I've used several cans of Raid and other wasp/hornet sprays with no success at all, I don't think it's reaching the nest in there. They are using several cracks/crevices to enter within an area of about 3 ft. by 3 ft., which seems to be growing week by week. Hot water and shop vacs don't sound like my best option in this situation, any other suggestions would be much appreciated. Kelly


kmariekrebs
9/18/2017 8:22:05 PM

I have a nest of yellow jackets living in the wall of my house. There are several cracks and crevices they're using for entrance in a large area-about 3 ft. by 3 ft. I've used several cans of Raid and other wasp and hornet killers to no effect. I don't think it's penetrating to the actual nest. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


swiminclay
8/31/2017 5:33:15 PM

H





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE