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Yellow Jackets: Signs and Prevention

Yellow jackets are a type of wasp that are common in Arkansas and can be aggressive when their nest is disturbed. Since they tend to build their nests partially underground, we recommend that you inspect your yard for these nests, especially if you have children and pets. Learn the signs to identify their nests as well as prevention tips to keep your family and pets safe.

How to Spot a Yellow Jacket Nest

Yellow jacket nest in yard guarded by a yellow jacket
The entrance to a wasp nest in the ground is around 2" in diameter.

Here are some tips on how spot a wasp nest in or around your property:

  1. Look for aerial nests: Yellow jackets often build their nests hanging from the eaves of houses or garages, trees, or electric or light poles. This is one of the most obvious signs of having wasps.

  2. Check the ground: Yellow jackets tend to build nests partially underground, usually in old gopher holes, wood piles, and dense vegetation. Walk your property, looking for holes, as well as other ground areas where nests might exist. If you see yellow jackets flying near such areas, or a large number of yellow jackets crawling around protecting a certain area, you’ve probably found a nest.

  3. Observe their flight pattern: Yellow jackets usually fly in a straight line rather than flying in curves or circles. Stand still and look across an area of yard that is in full, bright sun. Yellow jackets tend to zip quickly by on a straight path.

  4. Use bait: You can try to locate the nest by placing a piece of meat on the ground and waiting for a yellow jacket to take a piece. They do not fly far from their nest, so if you see one, it is likely that the nest is nearby.

Tips to Deter Yellow Jackets

A wasp nest hanging from a tree branch
Wasps also build nests that hang from trees and the eaves of structures.

To prevent yellow jackets from becoming a nuisance in your yard or home, here are some effective methods:

  1. Locate and remove the nest: If you have a yellow jacket nest on your property, it's important to locate and remove it. This is best done by calling a professional pest control service, as they have the expertise and equipment to handle the situation safely.

  2. Prevent with peppermint oil: Yellow jackets are repelled by the smell of peppermint oil. You can create a natural deterrent by mixing peppermint oil with water and spraying it around areas where yellowjackets are likely to be present, such as garbage bins or outdoor dining areas.

  3. Maintain a clean yard: Yellow jackets are attracted to sugary sweets and sources of protein. To reduce their access to food, keep trash bins sealed and clean up outdoor spills promptly. Additionally, pick fruits from your garden as soon as they ripen or cover them to prevent yellow jackets from feeding on them.

  4. Avoid attracting yellow jackets: Yellow jackets are attracted to certain scents and colors. To minimize their presence, avoid wearing perfumes, sweet-smelling shampoos or other scented body care products. Also, refrain from wearing bright-colored clothing, particularly yellow, or floral patterns, as yellow jackets seem to be attracted to these colors.

  5. Use lure traps: Lure traps can be set up to discourage yellow jackets from foraging in your yard. These traps contain attractants that lure the insects away from your living areas. However, it's important to place the traps away from high-traffic areas to avoid attracting more yellow jackets.

By following these preventive measures, you can reduce the likelihood of yellow jackets becoming a problem in your yard or home. However, if you spot or suspect a yellow jacket nest, it's best to call a professional pest removal company to handle it. They’ll know how to find the nest and exactly how to treat it to keep you and your home safe. Learn more about yellow jackets, bees and hornets here.


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