DIY





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


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



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 

crittermama
7/16/2018 3:15:50 AM

Pouring liquid down usually doesn't work: According to a paper from university of Idaho, pouring liquid down a hive opening normally won't work due to the hive body often being far away from the opening and sometimes even being higher than the opening. It is definitely a bad year for them this year. Started looking good this spring but then we had a heat up. I think I have all the different types of yellow jackets, along with paperwasps, and bald face hornets! And they are everywhere!!!


jawood
7/9/2018 7:23:00 AM

I have read, but not yet needed to try, killing a colony by putting a clear glass bowl over the colony opening. Yellow jackets will simply dig a new opening if the existing one is covered with something opaque. With a clear glass bowl, they can see light at the opening and can fly a short distance away before running into the barrier. Apparently this confuses them, and they do not dig a new opening. It is supposed to eventually kill by starving the colony, including the queen. I would like to hear from someone who has tried this method.


scott
6/26/2018 11:52:03 AM

Tried this last night and DID NOT WORK, which is amazing because if someone forced a bottle of pepermint castile soap and a kettle of boiling water down my throat, I'm sure I'd be dead. I was shocked to see them flying in and out of the hole this morning. The only difference was that I used Dr. Wood's pepermint oil, instead of Dr. Brownner's and I doubt that made any difference.




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