Thursday, November 8, 2012

What To Do About Yellow Jackets

When Yellow Jacket Control is Necessary

Whenever possible, leave yellow jacket nests alone and let them continue to prey on pest insects; the ensuing cold weather will cause the colony to die off. However, if the nest is in a well-traveled area and poses a risk, you may need to take action.

The easiest and safest the option is to hire a professional. If you're determined to do it yourself, know that the likelihood of getting stung is high.
Apply control measures on a cool evening. The insects will be back home from the day's foraging, and they're more sluggish in cool temperatures. Always wear protective gear, ideally beekeeper's attire.

Smother them. Mike McGrath, host of WHYY's You Bet Your Garden talk show and former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine suggests this procedure: Fill a wheelbarrow with ice and quickly dump it over the hole. Then cover the hole and the area around it with a heavy tarp weighted down with bricks, a piece of sheet metal, a big wooden board, or other heavy object. Then cover that with soil or wood chips. Or cover the hole with a thick piece of clear plastic, seal the edges tight to the ground, and the nest will cook in the sun once the ice melts.

Boil or drown them. Some gardeners report success with pouring 10-plus gallons of boiling water into the nest. Other say soapy water does the same thing. Remember, any insects that you don't kill on contact will come after you.

Spray them. Numerous wasp control sprays are available, including organic ones with mint oil as the active ingredient. There are also sprays that freeze upon contact. Some people report better luck using pesticide dusts rather than sprays. If you choose one of these methods, follow label directions very carefully, taking all precautions.

Do NOT pour gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable or toxic liquid into the hole. If it doesn't kill on contact it will infuriate the insects. And it will poison the soil.

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