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Yellow Jacket Traps

Summary: Yellow jackets present an ongoing problem during the summer months. Yellow jacket traps are an effective way to reduce the yellow jacket population without the use of pesticide sprays. This article will present several cheap and easy methods of creating a yellow jacket trap.

Every year it is the same problem. You try to enjoy your backyard only to find that yellow jackets own the space. No matter how many repellents you spray around the yard or on your person, yellow jackets invade your space.

It’s not that we care so much about yellow jackets being in our area, but the darned things get pretty aggressive and are not afraid to sting. And heaven forbid you squash a yellow jacket. Instantly, you find yourself in the middle of angry wasps that are responding to the alarm pheromone put off by the dead yellow jacket.


So, here are several easy and inexpensive yellow jacket traps that really work. Keep in mind that these traps will not eliminate existing yellow jacket nests. The traps are meant to draw yellow jackets away from your personal space. Putting these traps around the perimeter of your lawn, well away from the area you hope to occupy, will draw the wasps away in sufficient numbers to give you some needed relief.

The first yellow jacket trap is the most common. It’s the bottle trap. You can use a gallon or half gallon milk jug or a large plastic soda bottle as the container. Cut two thumb-sized holes in the upper third of the container. Fill the bottom container with about two inches of water and add a squirt of liquid dish soap like Joy. The detergent breaks the water tension so that the wasps immediately break the water surface, preventing them from escaping the surface of the water.

You will need to add some bait inside the bottle. Some people smear jelly inside the holes of the bottle. Others take long toothpicks like you get when you eat kabobs at a restaurant, and speak a piece of bacon so that it hangs down from the inside of the neck of the bottle. Lots of different food baits attract yellow jackets including raw fish, various meats or sweets. Experiment with your trap.

Some people like to take a soda bottle and cut off the top third of the bottle. Then, they take the cut piece that includes the bottle neck, turn it upside down and put it in the opening. Once again, they fill the bottom of the bottle with about two inches of water and add a little detergent. You can even substitute fruit juice for the water and the juice will serve as the bait.

Don’t have a bottle handy? Take a roasting pan and fill the bottom with water and detergent. Use a meat skewer to hold a piece of bacon across the pan. Works just like the bottle traps.


You will find that it will be necessary to frequently empty the traps especially if your trap is located near a yellow jacket nest. These nests can contain thousands of insects and your trap is going to quickly draw their interest. So, expect to find loads of dead yellow jackets in your traps. Keeping the trap clean of dead insects will encourage more insects to visit.

The more traps the better the protection. If you are planning an outdoor party set your traps out days ahead of the event to help reduce the yellow jacket population. Put out one trap every twenty feet around the perimeter to get the best protection.

Click here to watch my short video on how to control wasps.

Ask Rick A Question


20 Sep 2010, 09:57
We have been killing up to 5 yellow jackets in our RV almost every day. We've looked for a nest in the cabinets, and closets but cannot find a nest. Where else can we look and what can we do to get rid of them even if we can't find the nest? Thank you,
Ask the Exterminator
20 Sep 2010, 10:08
The yellow jackets are entering from the outside. They have eaten through the insulation and are emerging inside the RV. You need to watch for wasp activity at sunset. You will see the wasps returning home for the evening. Once you locate their entry hole, treat it with Tempo 1% dust, but do not close up the hole. Cold weather will kill the nest and the nest should be removed from inside the walls.

Tempo 1% dust can be purchased at
11 Jul 2011, 10:18
I work at a park, and my primary job is controlling invasive weeds around the trails. This year, more than ever before, I've been discovering yellow jacket nests multiple times a week all over the park, and not far into the woods either! I've been finding nests within two feet of a parking lot and within inches of trails where people walk. I'm afraid of the day that a small child missteps and gets attacked. I'm sure that the warm weather plays a big role in the increased yellow jacket population, and I'm trying to work with upper management for better control on trash cleanup. In the mean time, what is the best way to check for ground-nesting yellow jackets without putting myself in danger, and what will be the best method of dissuading yellow jackets from nesting near parking lots and trails in the future?
Ask the Exterminator
11 Jul 2011, 10:30
Pros use a dusting tool called Dustick which you can see at this link: l. It allow us to apply Tempo 1% dust to wasp holes from a safe distance. Visual inspection is the only method of finding the wasp nests. You can apply treatments of Talstar Pro insecticide to discourage wasp activity. All of these products are available by clicking on the Pest Control Products tab at the top of this page.
26 Jul 2011, 15:28
We have a lot of yellow jackets around our front door and we believe the nest is under our cement stairs which is not visible or accessible. What can we do?
Ask the Exterminator
26 Jul 2011, 16:59
At the very end of the article there is a link to a video that shows you what to do. Click on the link.
01 Aug 2011, 15:28
I have a brick house in northern Ohio and recently discovered a yellow jacket flying in and out from behind the outside porch light where the mortar provides a relief. They crawl behind the light and follow the wiring routing somewhere in the wall. I’m not sure where the nest is, it could be between the walls, up in the attic or in the soffit. Some are making it into the house, I’m not sure if there are coming in while people enter and leave the house or if they have found another way in. Also not knowing where the nest is how do I remove it during the winter?
Ask the Exterminator
01 Aug 2011, 15:47
I have a video that shows you how to do it at this link:
07 Sep 2011, 15:14
I have what I think are European hornets
which have made a nest under the sshingles of my roofing. I can see where they fly into the nest and I have sprayed them with everything you can buy from Lowes or Home Depot. They drink it up and it has no affect at all. I put out a WHY trap I got from Wal-Mart and that does not work either. Can you tell me what to do short of hiring an exterminator.
Ask the Exterminator
07 Sep 2011, 15:54
You should be treating the wasp nest entry hole with a pesticide dust like Tempo 1%. Leave the hole open after it has been treated. Liquid and aerosol sprays are only effective if you can see and treat the entire nest.
10 Apr 2012, 00:30
We have a pop up truck camper (the kind that telescopes up when parked but folds down when driving). This past weekend we went camping in temperatures in the upper 60's ( the first time it's been that warm since we purchased the used camper in November). Every hour or so during the day we would notice a yellow jacket inside the camper. We searched for where they were entering the camper with no success and have since decided that there must be a nest somewhere in the camper - but we cannot find where. We have looked behind the propane tank and crevices but cannot find a nest. What do we do if we cannot locate the nest? Do we apply Tempo to where the vinyl part of the camper wall meets the hard top (the perimeter of the camper)? Any other locations to apply the powder? Since the location of where the vinyl meets the roof is essentially facing the ground, will the powder stick? Do we need to reapply regularly since the camper is exposed to the elements and is being driven around? Thank you.
Ask the Exterminator
10 Apr 2012, 14:31
There is no nest at this time of year. Those are fertilized females that have been over-wintering. With warm temperatures they are trying to find their way outside. They've been hiding there since this past fall, when temperatures began to fall.

All you can do is search for them and kill them or allow them to escape to the outside.
02 Aug 2012, 18:10

Besides jam meat and fish does peanutbutter work? How about cheese?
Ask the Exterminator
06 Aug 2012, 11:59
You need to use food products that really put off a strong odor in order to attract the wasps. Rotting fish and meat really does the trick. Remember, the wasp's food preference will change from protein to sugars in the late summer.
30 Sep 2012, 12:14
How can I kill wasp and Yellow Jacket without killing the benefical honey bees?
29 May 2014, 22:13
To kill wasp and yellow jacket without killing honey bees you need to use a bait with a little alcohol(wine,beer).
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