How to Kill a Colony or a Hive of Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket colonies can pose a threat to humans.
Yellow jacket colonies can pose a threat to humans. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Yellow jackets are an aggressive type of wasp that are usually found in quiet areas below ground and away from humans. But in urban settings, yellow jackets often interfere with human activity, and they pose a threat because of their aggressive behavior. Most people don't experience severe allergic reactions to yellow jacket stings, but in rare cases, stings can cause life-threatening reactions that demand immediate medical attention. Killing the yellow jackets and removing their colonies is sometimes the only way to reduce the threat of stings. (See Reference 1)

Things You'll Need

  • Aerosol anti-wasp spray
  • Protective clothing
  • Heavy-duty plastic bag
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Shovel
  • Freezer
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Insecticide

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Exposed Nests

Spray aerosol anti-wasp spray into the entrance of the yellow jacket nest during the mid- to late-evening hours. The entrance can be found near the top of the nest.

Check the nest the following day for signs of activity. If the yellow jackets are nowhere to be found, then the colony has been killed. If yellow jackets are still active and inside the nest, proceed to the next step.

Put on protective clothing such as heavy pants, boots and work gloves. Tuck the pants into the boots and wrap rubber bands around the cuffs of your shirt sleeves to block yellow jackets from getting into your clothes. Cover your head with a hat, and if you don't own a protective veil of the sort beekeepers use, put on a ski mask.

Wait until late evening, when the yellow jackets are at their calmest, and cover the nest with a heavy-duty plastic bag. Make sure the yellow jackets are mostly inside the nest before you attempt this, as you could be stung through your protective clothing.

Cut down the nest with a sharp kitchen knife. Place it in a large plastic bag and tie the bag shut, sealing it.

Store the bag in a freezer for a day or two until all the yellow jackets have died.

Dispose of the nest in the trash.

Ground Nests

Prepare a mixture of 4 cups of liquid dish soap and 6 cups of hot water.

Locate the yellow jacket nest in the ground.

Pour the soapy water into the nest entrance, preferably late in the evening.

Check the nest the following day for signs of activity. If the soapy water didn't kill all of the yellow jackets, proceed to the following step.

Apply an insecticide that will not harm your lawn or soil on the opening of the nest. This will quickly and thoroughly kill the entire yellow jacket colony.

Shovel soil over the entrance of the nest.

Tips & Warnings

  • Insecticides that are cleared for lawn and soil include carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, acephate and diazinon.
  • Use an insecticide in dust form; it will reach the in-ground nest easier than liquid.
  • Kill yellow jacket colonies in June, if possible, as the nests are normally smaller and less active.
  • Do not perform these actions if you're allergic to wasps or bees of any kind; you could be seriously injured.
  • Call a professional exterminator if the yellow jacket nest is concealed inside your home, business or any structure.


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