During this time of late summer there are two main pests to be concern with in your yard and around your home: ants and yellow jackets. Ants are a nuisance but, they are relatively harmless whereas, yellow jackets can be much more than a nuisance.
Yellow jackets are the most aggressive of all of the social wasps. They are recognized by their black and yellow bodies, and can measure up to 16 mm in length. Yellow jackets are easily distinguished from bees as their body is long and thin in the middle. Their wings are as long as their body, and they do not have hair the same as bees do.
If you have ever been to a picnic and had a black and yellow insect flying around your food, it was likely a yellow jackets. These pests prefer a diet of meat and sugar, so picnic foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, and cookies are the perfect food source for them.
Yellow jackets typically nest in the ground under porches, under steps, or in the cracks of sidewalks and the base of trees. Sometimes you will find a yellow jacket next built on a low-hanging eve or porch overhang.
If you have a yellow jacket problem, here are some tips you can follow:
- Find the nest. The best way to treat a yellow jacket infestation is to treat the source. Look for the signs of a nest at the base of trees, around wood piles, in hollow tree trunks, under roof awning.
- Fill the holes. For the most part, yellow jackets will nest in the ground. And they are notorious for having nests that are difficult to find. Something as small as a hole in the ground with a little mound of dirt could be a yellow jacket nest. If you notice yellow jackets flying in and out or, just spending time near a hole in the ground, fill the hole with dirt and plug it up.
- Store the food. Yellow jackets need water just like all other living things. This means that if you remove a source of water, the yellow jackets will move on. If you have leaking irrigation, garden hoses, or outdoor faucets make sure to repair these leaks to prevent standing water.
While yellow jackets are pollinators and could be beneficial as a means for controlling the insect population, they are also fairly aggressive and if you have small children you may not want them nesting in your yard. Follow these tips for preventing yellow jackets from moving into your yard.