Yellow jackets can be a real pest in late summer and fall. They swarm out of the nest at the slightest provocation, looking to punish whomever disturbed them.
Want to know what works to kill a nest? We do too!
If you have ever used an inverted glass bowl to eliminate a yellow jacket nest email Dr. Paul Guillebeau and tell him how it worked for you. We need more information before we can recommend this nonchemical solution, but there is some evidence that it works.
Paul has used this method twice in his own yard. Both times, it eliminated the nest within 4-5 days. He also talked a colleague into trying it. She kept the bowl over the nest entrance for about two weeks just to be sure. After digging up the nest after a fortnight, she reported the wasps were all dead. Other sources have also suggested that this strategy works. However, we do not have enough information to recommend it to everyone.
We do not know why this method works. It seems unlikely that the temperature would increase enough under the ground to kill the yellow jackets. Our hypothesis is that the nest runs out of food and/or water very quickly.
Here is the method in case you want to try it.
1. Observe the nest from a distance to determine exactly where the entrance hole is. The nest may have more than one entrance, but yellow jackets do not create a second escape hatch.
The queens establish a nest wherever they find a suitable existing hole; perhaps a root rotted away or a rodent abandoned a nest.
2. Place a clear bowl(s) over the entrance(s). To reduce the chances of a sting, place the bowl either very early in the morning or at dusk when the wasps are not active. We do not advise doing it at night with a flashlight; the wasps may be attracted to the light and you.
3. It is imperative that the edge of the bowl fits tightly to the ground. You may need to pile sand or dirt around the bowl to seal the edges of the bowl. The yellow jackets will find any gap, but they apparently do not understand that they could dig under the edge of the bowl.
4. Observe the bowl during the day for a few days. If the wasps are escaping around the edge of the bowl, seal any gaps with loose dirt or sand.
5. Please report to us the success or failure of the project.
Comment #1 I am reporting back from out radio conversation 2 weeks ago and I have completed the homework you gave me for my yellowjacket ground nests. Well I found more than one entry and I used every clear glass piece of cookware I had in the kitchen to cover the ground holes! After one week there was no activity around the sites, both inside attempting to leave nor did I see scouts circling above the nest. So glad your theory worked and there were no chemicals needed to be put into the ground. I DID learn that I should have placed the cookware onto the open holes nearer to dusk rather than the late afternoon as I made a couple of scouts mad and I suffered their wrath with a sting or two! That is just a small price to pay for a success! I think I deserve an ‘A’ for my homework. Susan from Lilburn
Comment #2 I heard/read your idea that a glass bowl inverted over a yellow jacket’s nest could possibly kill the colony. Um no.
While it may work in a grassy or dirt area, it will not work on pinestraw. My sweet husband went out just before dark on Monday, and put our sturdiest Pyrex bowl over the hole. To ensure a good seal, he placed three bricks on top – really squooshing the bowl to the ground. Since that ground is a pine island, the yellow jackets have found their way through the pinestraw. Most still try to fly through the glass, but many, many of those evil-doers have found their way in and out.
Attached is a short video. It is amazing. They are really miffed! But now I won’t be able to use that bowl until winter sets in. No fried chicken for us. 🙁
Robin in Tucker