University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Yellowjackets in the Yard

August 17, 2000

Each season has certain insect pests associated with it. Now that we have reached late summer, one of the insect pests of the yard and garden is the yellowjacket.

Small, yellow and black "bees" in flying the backyard, on picnics, or in parks are most likely yellowjackets. Don't confuse the name "yellowjacket" with the term often associated with the much larger bumblebees. Yellowjackets are about the size of a honeybee with yellow and black stripes and can sting repeatedly. Honeybees are brown with black stripes and a hairy body.

Yellowjackets are readily attracted to trash cans, ripe or overripe fruits and vegetables, and outdoor activities involving food and soft drinks. Sanitation helps keep yellowjacket problems to a minimum. Keep food covered as long as possible when having a backyard outing.

In the garden or around fruit trees, clean up fallen or rotten produce such as apples or tomatoes that may be piling-up. Alert children to the problem that often exists as wild apples or crabapples often accumulate under trees, attracting yellowjackets.

Another problem with yellowjackets is when nests are in areas frequented by people. Yellowjackets nest in the soil, under porches, in landscape timbers, or in wall voids. Soil nests in problem areas may be treated with diazinon and the hole then sealed. Apply carbaryl (Sevin) dust in and around openings to nests in other areas. As the insects come and go, they will pick up the insecticide and carry it into the nest. Do all treatments in the evening and only treat nests in problem areas.

Gray, football-shaped nests up in trees are the work of the bald-faced hornet. If at all possible, leave the nest alone. It will die off with the arrival of winter and will not be reused again next year. If the nest is in a problem area and needs to be destroyed, wait until evening and spray insecticide up into the opening (stand to one side) in the bottom of the nest. Apply ready-to-use wasp and hornet spray products.

The best advice with these types of insects is to leave them alone if at all possible. Only control them when the threat of people being stung exists, which is often the case when the nest is near homes or other structures.


Click here for the full article index