yellow jackets all over garden!!

beanloafAugust 28, 2007


Now that things are finally really producing, my garden has become a host to many yellow jackets. I think that some of them are preying on the Mexican bean beetle larvae that has infested my bean plants, but they are everywhere, and of course I am highly allergic to stings! I don't want to go anywhere near the garden - a very depressing existence - but I don't want to get rid of them if they are getting rid of the bean beetles. A nest is not visible anyway (I made my husband walk up and down the rows a few times). Any advice out there?? Thank you!

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If they are Yellow Jackets, they are atrracted by ripening fruit. Any ripe tomatoes, eggplant, corn tossed aside will entice them. If you have large numbers, you probably have a nest nearby. Be careful, a fellow here, two years, stepped into a nest while trimming shrubs and died as a result. and he was not particularly allergic just so many stings they overpowered his body.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow Jacket

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 3:14PM
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They do not do anything to bean beetles and aren't of particularly help in any way.
If they are really yellow jackets, they nest in the ground. Keep an eye out for the spot they are flying to (it will be a fairly small hole). Then get one of those long distance wasp bombs and go out in the evening to exterminate them.
Actually, you ought to get someone else to do the dirty work - even if it means getting a professional. farmerdilla is right - these things are dangerous. Also they attack on sight with no reason - they are just very aggressive. Bees and wasps generally mind their own business - yellow jackets are out to conquer the world.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 5:21PM
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I have a lot of yellow jackets in my yard, too. They scare the dickens out of me. Even mosquito bites swell up when I'm bitten.

Do they nest in junipers? Half my front yard is junipers, and I see a lot of yellow jackets buzzing around there. I haven't seen any kind of nests, but I'm afraid I'll be weedwhacking tall weeds and stumble on one.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 7:20PM
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Yellow Jackets away from the nest normally mind their business. As the weather gets cooler they become more irritable but seldom bother you except to get in your hair. Women or men with long hair seem to attract them. BUT if you disturb their nest in any way, the entire colony swarms after you with blood in their eye. and they will pursue for a considerable distance. They like to build their nests in the ground in tall weeds and under shrubs. When I was a kid using a horse drawn mower, cutting the September hay was a real adventure due to nests in the hayfields.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 8:49PM
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yardenman(z7 MD)

I agree with oldroser and farmerdilla. There is a nest on your property and you should try to find it soon.

The nests become most populated in Fall and they get more active around fermenting fruits (for the sugar content). I had a real problem a few years ago with a massive nest that was built under some carpet underlay I meant to haul away.

It took me days to notice the stream of yellow jackets going into the heap because the grass wasn't growing that early August so I wasn't bothering them. Once I noticed them, they were obvious all the time. I had to pull up the heap at night (long distance with a hook on a rope), and spray from 20' away (and run away).

Based on personal experience, I would call an insect exterminator... They can start to get nasty this time of year.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 1:56AM
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Some years there are just more insect pests than they are in other years. This year, there is a notable lack of Yellow Jackets around my place, although there seems to be quite a few red wasps and black tailed red wasps.

I have been a bit puzzled about postings stating that Yellow Jackets build their nests in the ground. In all my years, I have never witnessed that. Here (and it may be someway related to the zone and climate) they build a paper looking nest that keeps getting larger and larger unless it is removed. They are almost always in a place that is protected from rain, like up under a shed roof or other similar place that will be dry. This link more nearly describes the type we have around here. If you scroll down a bit and click on "2. Life cycle and habits", it takes you to a page that better describes their nest building habits.

I have encountered GROUND BEES several times and they can be a real problem to deal with. Their coloration is somewhat the same but their shape makes them appear to be a honey bee, just smaller. Either variety can inflict very painful stings and become pretty aggressive if their nest is threatened or disturbed. Ordinarily, those working around in the garden are not at all aggressive toward me and commonly move away if I move my hand toward them to get at a tomato a pod of okra, or peas that I want to pick. I have gained a new respect for them after learning that some of them help take care of other insect pests, etc.
Just my .02
Bill P.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 8:28AM
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I live on some acreage in Tennessee and here's how I find yellowjacket nests.

Yellowjackets love raw fish and I'm an angler. Occasionally I'll bring home a small fish and I'll simply leave it in the yard. Within minutes it'll be covered with yellowjackets. They'll "bee-line" back and forth to their nest, and usually within 5 minutes I've followed them straight to it. Then it's simply a matter of applying the pesticide of choice. Most people around here wait until dusk (when yellowjackets are less active) and then pour a half-pint of gasoline directly into the nest-hole.

I, being a hippie, cannot endorse the use of gasoline, but I, being sick of yellowjackets, have been known to cave in to local wisdom.

Happy hunting.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 9:22AM
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kubotabx2200(Zone 5b NH)

I have had very good luck with Industrial Insect Spray III from the Fuller Brush Company. It contains 'natural' pyrethrins if this is of interest to you.

The stuff really works, I have used it for nests before. It is not cheap but a little goes a long way. Spray them at night when they are in the nest and inactive. I also have some get in a hole in a screen door and they were stuck between the screen and the sliding patio door. A couple of sprays and there were 25 dead yellow jackets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Industrial Insect Spray III

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Gasoline is very, very bad stuff for the environment. The gasoline in the soil doesn't ever go away. It just turns into toxic petroleum byproducts like toluene, benzene, and ethylbenzene. When gasoline tanks leak, like from abandoned gas stations, the remedial mitigation requires that the soil be dug up and replaced. It's the only way to remove the toxins.

I'm a technical writer trained as a chemist, and I've worked for environmental and scientific companies before.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 6:08AM
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RuthieG__TX(z8 TX)

Nothing to add to the yellow jacket issue just reminded me that yesterday I was in the garden and was pulling up some corn stalks and the stalks were full of bees and they were swarming the pollen stalks...They didn't make any effort to get me but they were very aggravated that I was messing with the stalks.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 8:10AM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

Yikes! Have not seen many yellow jackets in my garden. Hope I don't. I used to have a great pear tree in my yard. It produced great pears, but I cut it down because it attracted them and I got stung several times.

The last time, I fell on my butt on the patio, saw stars, and could not function for 20-30 minutes. My arm swelled up to the size of my leg, and my Doctor said the next one could kill me.

I keep a long-distance spray in my shop near my garden and on my golf cart. Have shot a few in the last few years, but, luckily have not been stung for several years.

If they show up in my garden, I may be done with gardening. I have already eliminated all flowers from my yard. I have been stung by some very small bees in the last few years. I get the shivers, get dizzy, and start sweating profusely.

If wasps show up and get aggressive, I am gone.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 3:24AM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

I hope that you keep an epi pen handy. Just juke youself in the leg with that and all will be well. I am serious. You really need to have one close by. If your doctor has not advised you of this you need to change doctors quick. I used to keep one with me everywhere I went in Brazil as they have some really nasty stinging insect down there and of course in the event one of the clients got stung.
1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 9:34AM
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I consider Yellow Jackets as friends. they eat other insects. I have them all around and they never bother me.

People are so full of irrational fears. Let go of the fears and nothing will happen. I picked up a lot of pears this summer off the ground that were covered in yellow jackets with them flying all around me. nothing happened. They are my friends. I would pick up the pear and shake off the yellow jackets. no gloves. bear hands. no fear.

I read here on GW that they eat a lot of flies and will clear the area of flies.

If you must kill some then try insect repellent. the deet will kill them and I hope it is not such a bad poison for the environment. However pyrethrem is probably even better. But most people have some insect repellent in the house. The smallest amount on the bug will kill it.

for a paper wasp nest I believe water will kill the nest. no need for poison. Deet works on a nest also. Once the nest gets wet it is doomed. The adults should leave the dead nest. have patience give it some time. They should all be gone next day. Give them time to leave.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:20AM
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We have yellow jackets nesting in a hollow (and living) olive tree. They are very persistent. We have sprayed them thoroughly twice, using different insecticides each time, both made for stinging insects. They keep coming back. I guess there are nooks and crannies the insecticide cannot reach.

While I rather like honeybees and bumblebees, yellow jackets are very aggessive. I cannot even water the garden without them swarming all over, much less sit and have a cup of coffee out of doors.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 2:56PM
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I was picking peaches today, and it's a wonder I didn't get stung. I've never seen so many yellow jackets. Luckily, they were more interested in the peaches than in me, and I guess there were enough ruined peaches on the ground that they weren't too interested in the ones I was plucking off the tree.

I've never been stung, but a mosquito bite can swell up to a welt 3-4 inches wide, so I don't want to be.

I'm allergic to something out in my garden. Now I have an itchy rash all up and down both forearms.

But I have several bags of peaches. Gosh, now what to do with them?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 6:40PM
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Excuse me, dangould, but you couldn't be more wrong with your statements, "I consider Yellow Jackets as friends. they eat other insects. I have them all around and they never bother me. People are so full of irrational fears. Let go of the fears and nothing will happen."

A small portion of the population is potentially very allergic to the venom of yellow jackets, wasps, bees & hornets, and if stung, they could experience a life-threatening reaction in just minutes. Having an Epi-Pen around makes sense & can save lives. Also, the chance of developing an allergic reaction to insect stings grows each time you are stung. This is nothing to mess around with.

Telling people to "let go of their fears and nothing will happen" is pure Pollyanna-ism. Have YOU ever had your airway swell shut?? Well then, you better get your facts straight before you hand out advice.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 2:44AM
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As someone with COPD, I absolutely concur. Jumping off a cliff will do nothing to cure a fear of heights. And fear of stinging insects isn't irrational.

It's really kind of scary creeping around my peach tree trying to pick peaches when the yellow jackets are after them, too. I think I may try to fix my Waspinator and put it out there. It's supposed to work on hornets and wasps. I assume it works on yellow jackets, too.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 3:54AM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

What is a Waspinator?

1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 2:33PM
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Gardener's Supply sells them. I've seen similar things at other sites. Basically, it's a fake wasp's nest. Wasps are territorial. When they see another nest in their 'hood, they vacate.

That's the theory, anyway.

I'm including a link. Unfortunately it looks like Gardener's no longer sells them.

I had one up, but the wind tore the little tag that you hang it from, and I haven't gotten around to fixing it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waspinator

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 6:09PM
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Here's another link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waspinator site

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 8:39PM
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Happened to this column by accident. Yellow jackets I hate them. I fell from a roof after being attacked by a large nest and landed on a bunch of boards with nails. It took EMS and a trip to the hospital to separate me from the old wood with nails. That was 35 years ago. I still have a phobia of them.

Now do you want to get rid of them? I do have a cure. It is called Ivermectin. It is a cattle dewormer. This is way off any label but if you mix a little with a piece of fruit or something sweet it will kill them. It will wack a bunch of things even carpenter ants. Be careful as it can also wipe out a honey bee population. It is the parent of many new hybrid low toxic insecticides. IE: Albermectin


    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 2:02AM
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Hey, lilacs - thanks! I checked out THE WASPINATOR today & ordered one online. It looks like it may work as it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I also went out & bought a yellow jacket trap today. There's LOTS of sites online that shows you how to make your own a la cheap using an empty 2 liter bottle. Add a little sugar water with a bit of vinegar in it & you're in business.

Can't wait for that 1st hard frost!!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 2:55AM
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