About Yellow Jackets and the Benefits of Wasps in the Garden – Mother Earth News

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Illustration by Keith Ward

All you have to do is leave select nests in place to receive free yellow vests pest control services.

This article is part of our biological pest control series that includes articles about attracting beneficial insects, controlling certain garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

The yellow vest wasp (Vespidae)

Yellow vest wasps make annoying company at the summer picnic, but they are extremely welcome visitors in the garden. These bright yellow and black striped wasps are smooth and slender compared to honeybees and are more likely to be found hunting in foliage than visiting flowers in the first half of summer. The food needs of growing yellow west colonies are so great that it is estimated that more than 2 pounds of insects can be removed from a 2,000 square foot garden by yellow vests.

The advantages of yellow vests come at a price, because yellow vests become dangerously aggressive when their nest is threatened. The easiest way to find nests on warm summer mornings or evenings is to carefully scan the landscape for insects popping up from the ground. After finding the yellow vests’ nests, decide whether to stay or leave. To neutralize a nest without the use of pesticides, cover the entrance hole with a large clear bowl or other cover attached with a brick. Be careful to approach the yellow vests’ nests at night when the yellow vests are at rest. Use flags or other markers to mark the locations of nests in acceptable places. Yellow vests usually build new nests every year. Sometimes new yellow vest nests appear in the middle of summer after old ones have been damaged by foxes or other predators.

What do yellow jackets eat?

Yellow vest wasps feed their young liquefied insects, with caterpillars, flies and spiders making up the largest food groups in the yellow vests’ diet for most of the summer. In late summer, yellow vests look for flower nectar and other sources of sugar, which are necessary nutrients for next season’s queens. Fewer youngsters are now being raised in the nests, leaving many individuals with little to do. At this point, yellow jackets become a sickening presence in the open air, whether they’re trying to steal your sandwich or raving about apple pits in your compost.

How to attract yellow vest wasps into your garden

All you have to do is leave selected nests in place for free yellow vests pest control service. Living peacefully with yellow vests is another problem, especially if you are growing tree fruits. Yellow vests busily feed on fallen apples, pears, and other fruits, so wear a light glove while cleaning the orchard. Bury fruit waste under 2 inches of soil or build a compost heap for fruit waste far from your house where the yellow vests can eat their fill.

You can use passive traps made from soda bottles to catch yellow vests lurking on your deck or patio from early fall in case they pose a problem. Most of these individuals die of natural causes before winter begins. So you have little to lose in capturing them.

For more information on yellow vest wasps, please contact Auburn University, North Carolina State University, and Michigan State University.

Published on March 18, 2013

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