Yellow jackets benefit tremendously by swarming through neighborhoods and establishing both subterranean and aerial nests on residential properties. This is because the garbage bins and discarded food found in residential areas provide yellow jackets with more sustenance than they can find in nature, and this is especially true of scavenging yellow jackets that become abundant in residential areas during the fall.

During the spring and summer, nesting yellow jacket workers seek out insect and spider food sources, which are also particularly numerous on residential lawns. Adult workers transport protein-rich insects and spiders back to the nest where they feed it to larvae, and in the process, adult workers consume needed protein as well. Queens and adult yellow jackets rely mainly on nectar and honeydew from plants as their primary food source, but when their plant and arthropod food sources dry up during the fall, they begin to scavenge throughout neighborhoods in search of human food sources, such as meat and sweet-tasting foods.

Yellow jackets are difficult to control, and few methods have been developed that can effectively prevent the venomous insects from establishing a presence on residential properties. However, insecticide sprays have proven useful for destroying yellow jacket nests, and certain poison baits have become popular as a less dangerous method of yellow jacket control around homes. In fact, new baits designed for yellow jacket control can eliminate nests before they grow to contain substantial numbers of workers.

Several baits consisting of a poisonous chemical known as “mirex” mixed with foods like beef, liver, fish and juice concentrate attract worker yellow jackets. After consuming the bait, the workers do not die immediately; instead, the workers transport the poison bait back to the colony nest where they feed it to larvae. In areas where mirex bait has been used, researchers found an abundance of dead yellow jacket workers, males, queens and larvae, indicating that the bait had been effective at destroying nesting yellow jackets. While experimenting with different poisons, researchers found that mirex was the only one of 12 that did not repel yellow jacket workers when the poison was mixed with foods that are desired by yellow jackets. Pest control professionals often use baits to control yellow jacket around homes.

Have you ever had issues with yellow jacket pests around your home?