Look out for yellow jackets

While I’m not allergic to yellow jacket stitches, there are few things that can ruin my day outside faster. The sharp, burning sensation of a yellow jacket stitch often comes as a surprise to me because I had only seen the yellow-striped creature too late.

At the beginning of autumn, this is the season when yellow vests are most aggressive and their colonies reach their maximum size. If you enjoy outdoor activities or tackle chores in your yard, keep an eye out for yellow jackets and I’ll share some prevention and treatment ideas with you.

First, you need to know where to look for nests for yellow vests, either in the ground or above the ground. Yellow vests can build nests in cavities in attics, walls, or in hollow trees.

In the ground, the nests can be harder to see because their openings are the size of a nickel and can be areas with plant debris. Aside from noticing the yellow vests coming and going, you may notice a small pile of earth around the opening of the hole to an underground colony. You’ll notice the yellow jackets coming and going in daylight.

You can make the area around your home less attractive to these creatures by sealing gaps and cracks, especially near awnings. It helps keep trash cans closed and clean, and restrict other food options for them. Crumpled paper bags near doors or on the eaves of houses can also keep yellow vests away, as they look like other wasp nests.

According to Xing Ping Hu, entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, night is the best time to tend to the nests of the yellow vests. “At night the yellow vests are sleepy and do not see very well,” said Hu.

There are a variety of products available for treating yellow vest nests, and insecticidal soaps or dusts are best for an entire nest. Leave the sprays and aerosols for individual wasps or hornets. The nests of the yellow vests can be huge. So if you find that you have a big problem, you’d better call a professional with their specialized equipment and chemicals.

When treating a nest on your own, find the entrance first, and then pour the control product into the nest. Then use a glass pan or tray to cover the opening and trap the yellow jackets in it. Next, leave the nest alone for 24 hours. Yellow jackets can be aggressive and resilient, so you may need to treat the nest several times.

If you have additional questions about home pests or expansion programs, contact our office at 3200-A W. Meighan Blvd. in Gadsden, call us at 256-547-7936 or visit us on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3otwUdl or online at https://bit.ly/3yniPCx.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome! Please let us know if you have accessibility.

Eric Wright is the Expansion Coordinator for the Etowah County Expansion Office.

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