Monday, September 1, 2014


Yellow jacket follow up.

I mentioned in my previous post about the attack on Callie and I of the yellow jackets.  What a nasty group of insects they are.

I scoured the Internet for solutions to the problem, also asking my readers for hints. Barry came up with the best warning, to only approach them at night. That is when all the nasties are back in the nest and asleep. However they are very light sleepers so one must be quick.

My particular group of yellow jackets are living in the earth. They use abandoned rodent holes--those damn voles again--for their nests.  Below is a drawing of a YJ nest.

These can be the size of basketballs. You really have to admire them for the engineering and construction.

I read one solution on the Net that had me shaking my head.  A fellow dumps gasoline in the hole, then lights it. Mercy, where are his brains?  Besides losing ones eyebrows and burning down the carport, how toxic is that? Instead, I opted for a non-toxic but odd method.   Mother Earth News said it would work so I chose the glass bowl over the hole method.

I dressed in my home made protective gear and prepared for battle. All skin is covered and that is a mesh laundry bag over my head.  I scared both the dog and cat in this get up and could only hope I had all openings covered. I was still smarting from the attack the day before.

Sneaking up on the hole in the dead of night in my odd gear. I slid a glass bowl quickly over the hole and goodness did all Hell instantly break loose. YJ after YJ smacked his head on the glass as they attempted to get to me. That age old adage "you don't want to stir up a hornets nest" came to life before my eyes.

I had to hurry the plopping of the bowl in the dark --you only get one chance. The flashlight beam showed one side of the bowl was dangerously close to the hole edge so I put a larger bowl over the first one.  I then piled gravel around the edges to be sure.

That has worked, the second bowl caught the few that eventually escaped the first bowl.

Because I double bowled the entrance, the condensation that formed won't let me get a picture of the YJs. This borrowed photo from trevdec's YouTube video is exactly how they looked however.

The reason this works is that since the yellow jackets can see the sunlight, they keep trying to exit the same hole. Had the hole been covered with something like a board, they might just have made a new exit. Good thing they aren't as smart as they are nasty.

As much as my stings still smart, though they have now settled down to intense itching, I am not enjoying this. I am having to wait for them to starve to death which is quite cruel.  Many times I have wanted to go out and remove the bowl to set them free. Only knowing they would probably put me in the ER has stopped any release attempts.

Had we not been attacked nor the hole being only 3 feet from my car in the carport, we might have lived in peace. Knowing Callie's penchant for digging vole holes, I could just see her trying to dig that hole out. They could kill her.

Even knowing that, it has been hard. If I ever have to do this again, I will find a
quicker, more humane way that is still green.

Yellow Jackets are not pollinators but do eat some garden pests like caterpillars. I would love to live and let live. Sometimes we just have to take the harsh approach for safety's sake.  But I don't have to like it.   Life is complex for the tender of heart

I'd be willing to bet this is what inspired Steven King's book, Under The Dome.  I can just see him in this very same scenario thinking, "Hum--- what if something like this happened to a town full of humans?"


  1. Amazing. My neighbor did the gasoline method. He didn't have any problems. They were gone, gone.

  2. I know the feeling of having to be part of a cruel system. I have a surefire way to get rid of fruit flies but I've watched them drown and tried to fish them out, to no avail. They are so annoying, however, that I've learned to tolerate being an agent of death. And Patti? Don't remove that bowl!! :-)

  3. I'm so glad that as much as it troubled you, your technique worked.

  4. You are a kind hearted soul...but there are times when one must thing of one's own hide.....YJ's were the teachers and you learned your ninja lesson well. Hope you feel better soonest. Oma Linda

  5. Happy Labor Day... Hope you are having a great day. We finally got some rain here this weekend (which we needed)--but this week promises to be a hot one... I'm SO ready for Fall...

    Glad you found a good way to get rid of those pests. Did they eventually just all die???? How long did it take? How did you keep Callie out of there?

    We watch Under the Dome... Interesting little show.


  6. I just spray them at night from one of those cans that shoot a spray twenty feet, If you do it at night when they're all inside its bye bye nest. Glad you didn't get stung too badly.

  7. I'm so glad you found a solution. I wonder how long you'll have to wait to make sure they're all done though. Don't they have a food supply down there?

  8. What a great suit for doing battle in! I'm with you. It would be hard for me to wait for the yellow jackets to die, but I think their deaths were necessary.

  9. Yellow jackets are so scary! I'm glad you found a way to contain them and, utlimately, to get rid of them. Yes, it's too bad you can't peacefully co-exist, but that's tough with yellow jackets at close quarters. Please keep resisting your kind urge to set them free. Not worth the risk!

  10. I just love your outfit. Absolutely hilarious your creativity!!!
    Hope your itching will go away soon.

  11. Peruby,
    I'm sure gasoline is effective though lighting it was a bit over kill. I just was looking for a less toxic, greener method.

    Never fear. I waited a full day after no activity to remove the bowl.
    Good to know there is another tender heart out there. Welcome to the club.

    It really did work but entirely too slowly.

    Thanks so much. All better now with lessons learned.

    I loved the book, enjoyed the show but it has morphed away from the book and is getting a bit "Lost"-ish. Still watching though.
    It took 3 days and Callie stayed out till I removed the bowl. Then she dug up the nest. Sheesh.

    Night time is the right time but you do have a small window. They are light sleepers. Maybe next time I'll try your method. It would be more humane.

    I understand they bring in food daily so if they can't get out, they die of starvation. Not pretty but effective.

    It was hard to wait and I weakened many times but persevered. Wish there were a way to anesthetize them. I'd make a terrible warrior. I knew Callie wouldn't leave them alone--it had to be done.

    Dr Kathy,
    You are right. Yellow jackets do not have a sharing attitude. I stayed away from the bowl but it was hard.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Glad you liked the outfit. A bit silly looking with the laundry sack but effective. Itching is almost gone.

  12. You are a brave soul...I would not have been able to carry out that mission. Not out of caring for the YJs, but just because I would have been afraid I would miss the hole, ad rile them up. I understand the feeling cruel, but YJs are a breed apart, and pretty nasty, at that. Good luck with this...I hope it works!!

  13. It is a dilemma, isn't it, dear Patti....I cannot imagine another way that is more human, my dear.....And as you said, staying with the best 'green' way.....It seems like Chemicals of any kind would be horribly cruel....
    I don;t blame you for wishing you didn't have this problem.....And also, not wanting to end up in the ER! The two Bowls idea was Brilliant, by the way.

  14. Patti - Loving the bowl method. I have loads of them after the hummingbird feeders and apples that have dropped on the lawn. So far I have not hit any nests with the lawn mower, which is how I usually find them. Probably the absolute worst I have seen them was after Hurricane Bob in 1991. We lost loads of trees and branches and it destroyed many wasps nests. The fresh exposed sap brought the wasps and ground dwelling yellow jackets out in force. It was dreadful!

    Yep. I'll be trying your bowl method if I ever have the chance.

  15. This is sort of horrifically fascinating. I wonder how long it will take to kill all of the yellow Jackets.
    Spraying them at night is another, faster way. Perhaps not green, but quick.

  16. Good luck! They are so dangerous. I am not currently allergic to them but always worry that could change.

  17. What an ingenious idea!! And you should totally use that photo as your new profile picture :)

  18. I really sympathize with you, having to watch those yellow jackets meet their doom. But sometimes we have to do these things that challenge our best instincts. I wish yellow jackets would just obey our commands to move on.

    Love your comparison to Under the Dome. We've started watching that and find it an interesting and perplexing premise.

  19. Reading this I really feel for you,I know you are a kind soul, but unfortunately for them the YJ ended up in the wrong place. I feel for them too, and for Callie. I have to find a picture of her, as I missed her arrival. I have never seen any YJ here and after reading this, I hope I never will.

  20. Sometimes you just have to make the choice to protect yourself first and this is just one of those times. I personally don't mind killing yellow jackets because they are so dangerous. That goes double for mice because they are so dirty!

  21. I too wince when killing bugs. It never seems quite fair. I remember once writing a poem and while I can't remember the whole thing I do remember, "Little cricket in my sink, you do not bite or sting, and yet I snuffed you out. It was an awful thing."

    I have to go after wasps a lot around here and love your outfit. I have several mesh laundry bags.

  22. Amazing. I had never heard of that option but I'm glad it worked.

  23. Yikes, I'm glad neither you nor Callie were allergic to the stings.

    When I was growing up, my Dad used some sort of spray on the wasps nests. They weren't yellow jackets (which sounds far too nasty), instead the nests hung from the eaves of the buildings. We learned early, as children, to leave the nests alone.

    Love the gear! Especially the mesh laundry bag.

    Hope you are feeling better soon, from the cold and stings, and Callie recovers quickly too.

  24. You did a super job sweet Patti, covering yourself, you look like a bee keeper. :) I don't like to have to kill anything either, but some things we just have to for our safety and the safety of our cats and dogs. There is just not enough safe ways to get rid of those singing critters that is fast for their demise. Hope you don't have any more problems with them. Hugs and give the sweeties nose kisses for us!

  25. Bica,
    It was that very fear that made me dress so weirdly. Yes it has worked.

    I'm just glad I noticed the possible leak. Other wise some very angry YJ's could have escaped.I'm just glad it is over.

    I know, that lawnmower thing has me still a bit concerned since my property is full of vole holes.
    The bowl does work and it is totally green.

    Linda R.
    I know, I thought about that but wanted the green method. Didn't know it was also cruel.

    Allergies can hit us anytime and repeated stings can trigger a more serious reaction. Best bet is to stay clear if possible.

    Ha ha, at least it hides the wrinkles.

    I really liked the book and for a while the show followed faithfully. Now it is on another tangent all together. I guess to make the series last longer.

    You can find a picture of her here.

    Ha, I still have a hard time with mice but rats are pretty much fair game. They are scary.

    Grannie Annie,
    Those bags work though it sure cuts down your vision.
    I love that poem.Similar thoughts go through my head as I apologize to what ever I am killing.

    Works like a charm if you have patience and a hard heart.

    Thank you so much. Most of our maladies are history or close to it.

    Ha, beekeeper was the look I was going for. Thank you and sometimes we do have to do unpleasant things, especially for our critters.

  26. Dear Arkansas Patti, these words of yours hold so much wisdom I think. "Sometimes we just have to take the harsh approach for safety's sake. But I don't have to like it. Life is complex for the tender of heart." Thank you for them as they put things into perspective for me. Peace.

  27. That picture of the protective gear made my day. :) Just this morning I read about 10 students being stung by yellow jackets on the playground of a neighborhood school. One child had an allergic reaction, but had an EpiPen on hand at school. Those in-ground nests are scary!

    Yellow jacket bowling. . . who knew?!

  28. Methinks Mrs.T's painful bites and awful itching on the ankles might have been the YJ terrorists springing from their hidden hole. In any case she thought so after reading your post!

  29. I hope this is the end of those nasty critters. Be VERY careful when you remove that bowl...and I hope Callie doesn't accidentally knock it over either. Egads!

  30. Dee,
    I am always pleased when any of my words find a home with someone else. Thank you.

    Happy to have made your day:)) It ruined the day for my pets. Scared them almost into attack mode.
    Because they are in ground, the nests are easy to miss. The EpiPen is a wonderful tool. Glad the kids were OK.

    Ouch, it sure sounds like it. I feel her pain also.

    I walked Callie on a leash the whole time and left the bowl in place a full day after no more activity. Effective if gross.

  31. Patti - Glad I didn't miss the photo of you in your yellow jacket stalker get-up! Priceless! I think this might be classified of as necessary survival tactics.

  32. Ha, glad you liked it. It looked silly but was effective.