Nothing ruins a relaxing backyard barbecue more than an army of yellowjackets trying to get a bite of your juicy, protein-packed meal. Well, nothing except for mosquitoes looking for a blood meal—but that is a topic for another time!
You may be asking yourself, what is it that attracts yellowjackets to our food, and how can I reduce the number of them in my yard?
Let’s get the basics out of the way first—yellowjackets are simply wasps, but not all wasps are yellowjackets. There are thousands of species of wasps in California. Most do not bother people, and many are beneficial as they hunt for or parasitize other insects.
The ground-nesting species of wasps (yellowjackets) are considered pests because they can be aggressive while searching for food to feed their young or when protecting their nests.
One of the roles of a worker yellowjacket is to help feed the larvae in the nest while the queen is busy laying eggs. Workers scavenge for all types of protein, such as dead animals, insects, and of course, our food! If you watch closely when a yellowjacket lands on a piece of meat, you can see it use its mouthparts to meticulously saw off a piece and fly away. That yellowjacket is taking the meat back to the nest to feed the larvae. In return, the larvae will regurgitate a substance that the worker yellowjacket will feed upon.
This continues until late fall when the queen produces new queens that mate with the male yellowjacket drones. The remainder of the yellowjackets will abandon the nest and forage for themselves until they finally die. The overwintering queens will emerge the following spring and find a suitable location to begin construction on a new nest and lay eggs.
How can I reduce the number of yellowjackets in my yard?
The most effective way to reduce the number of yellowjackets in your yard is by finding the nest and calling us to eliminate it for free!
However, we understand that sometimes it is not that simple. Yellowjackets typically forage about ¼ of a mile (or farther) from their nest, so sometimes it may not even be located on your property.
Setting lure traps around your yard can help reduce the number of foraging workers in an area. Place the traps along your backyard fence line or approximately 200 feet away from your patio or any area where you spend time.
Remember, these traps are attracting yellowjackets, so you do not want them above picnic tables, BBQ’s or any other highly trafficked areas. Be sure to follow all instructions that come with the trap.
For more information about yellowjackets or to request service visit www.msmosquito.org or call us at 707-285-2200.