Your experience with ground wasps

Ruth_MI(z5MI)August 8, 2014

I realize this is a little OT, but I'd like to get input from others who spend a lot of time in their gardens.

I just discovered a ground nest of yellow jackets (not bees). If they'll leave me alone, I'll leave them alone. BUT...

I've gotten stung a few times by ground wasps. It's always happened when I didn't realize I was near a nest. But I just read that they're extremely aggressive and will sometimes attack even after hearing distant loud noises (weed whackers, blowers, etc.).

I don't need to do any digging in that immediate area, but it's right next to a path where I'll be dragging the hose and using the leaf blower. There are a ton of them going in and out and I'm not about to risk being attacked by them.

Any advice?

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Ruth, I haven't found a yellow jacket nest on our property but gee I have a lot of them this year. I was asking about them about a month ago on the Vegetable forum because I was wondering why I was getting so many around my brassica beds. Someone did offer me a solution if I did happen to find a nest in the ground. I linked to a description of the method that others on my thread said worked for them. I haven't needed to try it myself.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow Jackets vs. Cake Cover: A Success Story

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:57PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I would try to get rid of them because there's a good possibility they might attack.

A few years back I was trying to dig out a very stubborn peony in my garden. I was really whacking the roots with the shovel and suddenly was stung many times by a bunch of wasps. Only later did I find the nest a few feet from where I was digging. I guess the vibrations of the shovel hitting the ground set them off.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:12PM
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Yellow Jackets sting you just because they can! Stay away from them. They don't die after stinging you like bees do so they just sting indiscriminately.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:13PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

One other thing, if you want to try chemical weapons on them, I've not had a whole lot of luck with the pressurized cans of wasp spray. I followed the direction: sprayed just before dark when the wasps were all in bed, sprayed right in the opening to the nest and after a few nights and a few cans of the stuff (at about $6 a can) still didn't eliminate the nest.

Finally, I mixed up some malathion in a tank sprayer and stuck the end right in the opening to the nest and sprayed. It only took one spraying and they were dead.

A heck of a lot cheaper and it worked.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:51PM
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Thanks! You've given me the answer to "should I?" as well as some great tips for how to get rid of them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Found that the (immobilizing) hair spray on the wings didn't work. They filed out the hole too quickly for me.

Did get rid of a small nest, with cold weather and a hose.
Got 17 stings, but was wearing goggles. Did get the lot.

After that let people who were more qualified than me eliminate underground wasp nests.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:20PM
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use a hair spray torch....assuming the propellants in the hair spray still burn like they used to :)
A fireball like that...was most effective when I last did away with a nest.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:21AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I just want to caution anyone trying to make a torch with hair spray. There was a story in the news the other day of a man who burned his house trying that 'in the house' if you can believe it. See link below.

Plus as I was looking for that article for a link, I came across another article about a man who was attempting to melt snow on his back porch with a blow torch hooked up to a propane tank and burned his house!

Soâ¦just a word of caution, while thinking up these ingenious solutions! These two people thought they were pretty clever at the time, I guess. lol

Here is a link that might be useful: Man sets house after trying to kill spider

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 2:32AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

They get more vicious as fall comes on, and they will chase you back to your house, stinging repeatedly. The stings are, in my experience, much worse than bee or wasp stings. You really need to get rid of them. I've always used the commercial sprays--the foam often doesn't work, but the liquid always does. I do it very early in the morning while it's still dark.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:20AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

PM2, loved the cake top link you provided. Kind of one of those "why didn't I think of that?" solutions. Luckily for me I have not come across any nests this year (and the ones from last year seem to be gone) but I will definitely remember this option, because I'm sure there will be more nests in my future.

Yes, please everyone, be careful if you are using any kind of fire. And PLEASE, think twice about using any kind of fire associated with an aerosol can. I CERTAINLY don't mean to be rude or offend, and I usually don't make such candid comments on this forum for the sake of not offending anyone, but for safety's sake I have to say that honestly, doing something like this sounds like something a stupid teenager would do because he thinks it would be cool. Please don't attempt this at home. :)


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:02AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Call an exterminator. They'll get the job done quickly and efficiently with no risk of YOU getting stung.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:26AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I was going to take some pictures in the front garden this morning - BUT I got chased out by something very persistent! I suspect there's a nasty nest somewhere around the middle of the driveway border on the north side... So now the question is - how do you find it without getting stung?! I definitely won't be trying to exterminate it myself - but will undoubtedly have to talk DH out of trying to....! The glass bowl idea in that link might be worth trying as the least risky home remedy - although I'm not convinced that they wouldn't be inclined to tunnel their way out, or that there isn't already an 'escape hatch' route out of the nest.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:40AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, if you scroll down in the article to the comments section, there were some pretty handy tips made. One person said he mounds dirt up around the glass cake dome with something heavy on the top of it to keep them from tunneling out. Another person was talking about what to do if some of them chase you -- that you should strip your clothes and hat as you are running because they mark you with scent for the other yellow jackets to find you. Amazes me how clever some people are.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Update: I tried the bowl thing last night. It was just "dark," and cool as well, so thought they'd all be in their hole. I used a fairly heavy glass bowl, then dumped some dirt (but maybe not enough) around the edges. Since I couldn't see very well, I didn't want to hang out there too long.

There appear to be a couple yellow jackets outside the bowl and a bunch flying around inside. I guess I'll leave it for a few days and see what happens.

I was thinking this was a good "first try" thing. In retrospect, an advantage of Kevin's solution is that any yellow jackets that happened to be outside before the spraying would likely be killed by the residual chemical when they later flew in. I just hated the thought of having to stand there and pump the stuff in.

We'll see what happens!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:30PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Very brave, Ruth! I wouldn't have wanted to stand around either. I thought I read the person who had success left the cake bowl over the entrance for a week before they were all dead, so you might want to leave it as long as you can. I hope it works!!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:37PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

To find the exact hole, you walk very quietly to the general are and just watch. They fly in and out constantly. I once had one near the house in a bed of leadwort, but I was able to identify where the hole was, find it and spray before dawn and get them all.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 6:31AM
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Update: I found an old can of the foam-type wasp spray. Last night after dark, I sprayed what was left on/around the bowl.

This morning there seem to be more yellow jackets around the bowl, and it appears they've made a secondary hole even though I dumped dirt around the bowl. (The dirt wasn't very deep though.) I can still see them flying around inside the bowl too.

To do it over again, I'd use something sprayed directly into the hole. Kevin's method would probably be choice #1. I've used the foam spray in the past, but it's taken a few applications. The advantage is that it shoots well from a distance.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:56AM
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Please be very careful. My husband was just out in our woods in your zone and stumbled across one of these and went into complete anaphylactic shock. So please if you do not know if you are allergic be very, very careful.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:02AM
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roseberri, z6(6)

hi I look in here a lot but never post , just wanted to let you know that yellow jackets often make a front and back door so that is why you have them appearing outside the cake dome. There are sites that tell you how to wage war on these but I am with those who advise expert help. We had dozens of nests last year on our property and tried to do the ones closest to the house ourselves. It worked and we didn't get stung doing it but it wasn't the wisest thing we have ever done! So far they aren't too bad this year but it began around this time last year.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:23AM
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I've had good luck using commercial sprays to eradicate yellow jackets nests. I have been stung by them on numerous occasions and they often swarm you. The more that you get stung, the more likely you are to develop an allergic reaction. Just because you've never had one before doesn't mean that you won't ever, and I've known people who developed allergic reactions to bee/wasp/yellow jacket stings after getting repeatedly stung.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:57AM
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I had a run in with them last year. After being stung I was too scared to go near it with any sprays.

After researching, I chose to wait until it got cold and do the boiling water method.

I put a piece of screen over the hole secured with bricks. I then poured 3 (wanted to be sure to kill the queen lol) big pots of boiling soapy water in the hole. I was amazed at how big the nest was!! That little pencil hole opened up to a BIG hole.

It worked thank God. I sure hope I don't come across any more....those stings are not pleasant.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:22PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

I do a lot of canning and freezing of veggies this time of year. Rather than dump that boiling water down the drain, I use it on weeds. And, sometimes on other things. You have to be aware of what you might have planted nearby, as the boiling water will quickly kill the roots of anything near it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:21AM
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I was very willing to take the chance believe me lol.

I had a couple of plants approx 18" from the nest....luckily they were unharmed.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 2:11PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

It seems they could be useful to you as enhanced home security ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Burglar regrets hiding place.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Lol floral...that is too funny!

That's what I call "instant" karma.....

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 5:00PM
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We get them often in our rural area, and unfortunately DH finds most of them when mowing, both in lawn areas and rough field. Without success we've tried various wasp sprays and boiling water, but a small amount of fuel and burning them out seems to work well. I am currently trying the clear dome method. It's been 5 days and there are fewer both in and out of the dome, and they haven't yet dug a second hole. DH was able to mow around the dome without being stung.
From August 16, 2014

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:33AM
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Well, here I am, eight days later, and I still have yellow jackets - except now I'm assuming I have ANGRY yellow jackets. Some are swarming inside the glass bowl and some are going in and out a new entrance hole.

Plan B starts tonight. The malathion is mixed and waiting on the deck. Layers of clothes are in the kitchen (for easy peeling in case they come after me). And to add just the right amount of hilarity to my ensemble, I dug out a headlamp to wear...thought it would be nice to see what I was doing.

The adventure Part II begins at ten. Update tomorrow.

Oh, and floral, I just loved that story!

This post was edited by ruth_mi on Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 20:50

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:49PM
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They finally seem to be gone...but that bowl's not moving anytime soon. The day after spraying I still saw a few flying in and out. I was going to spray again last night but decided to wait. So relieved to be done with this!

I think next time I'd spray first, possibly throwing a glass bowl on top of the hole after spraying.

Really appreciate everyone's input!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:41PM
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