Hot Topics: Yellow Jackets

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Original Post: Yellow Jackets Won't Stay Dead

Ananisapta Member

My home has a 4-foot crawl space between stories. It communicates with only two of the downstairs rooms (and none upstairs). About 10 days ago, I started to notice dead bees on the floor of the lighted room between the two utility rooms. Since I had treated the thresholds with long-acting insecticide, I figured they were coming from the crawl space and following the light into my home. I started to see a few living bees in other rooms on the windows. I called a local professional with a good reputation and asked if they could send a small, spry guy who wasn't afraid of bees. They sent a guy about 6 feet and 200 pounds and obviously not comfortable around anything that wiggled. He spotted an active yellow jacket hive entrance on the exterior that obviously led to the crawl space. He hit it with spray, fog, and powder. There was a lot of activity around that area for several days, then none for several days. Lately, I have seen a few adult bees making their way out through the hole and dropping to the ground. I haven't seen any traffic into the hole, nor any bees fly out. My work-room, however, has been a disaster area the past week. I started leaving the lights on most of the time and I usually find one or a few bees in there. Some are flying near the lights, others writhing on the floor. I usually fog the room when I see them, and I've cleaned up about a hundred incapacitated bees from the floor. I occasionally find them elsewhere in the house, but that has considerably diminished.

We're going to have a cold snap tomorrow evening, so I need to get my orchid bench set up in that room, and I wish I didn't have to worry about critters because the orchids require too much attention as it is. Does it seem reasonable to you that this nest is effectively dead and I'm just dealing with bees that ran away from the nest when it was sprayed? Could the nest still be producing young bees or being used as a food source? These critters don't seem much smaller now than they were a week ago. It would be nice if I could seal off the work-room from the crawl space but that would involve a lot of ladder work that I'm not comfortable with anymore. Should I call the exterminator again? Other thoughts?

Top Comment:

PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

It sounds like it was a large nest, which makes sense this late in the season. I suspect that the treatment did affect at least a portion of the nest which explains the dead bees and the slowly dying bees. Did he or did anyone look inside the crawl space to better assess the size and specific location of the nest? It could be several feet inside the crawl which could also explain why the nest didn't get a direct hit. I never liked just treating an opening in a wall or ceiling without seeing the nest itself. I would want to remove the nest if feasible.

Since the nest received treatment at least to some extent, the survivors are now repelled and are seeing the light or sensing the warmth from your interior. They may or may not die off soon. No way to tell for sure.

In the room most affected, I wonder if they got into the wall and chewed through the drywall somewhere. If they did, it will be small and hard to see, sometimes like a flap that still lays over the hole, blending it in well. With bright lights, take a slow look at all the walls in that room. Are there any pipes/conduits that may penetrate through the floor to the crawl space? If so, sometimes those holes are a bigger opening than the pipe that penetrates them.

I wouldn't wait more than another day or so before calling. The nest, if properly treated, should be inactive by now, in fact.

When bees emerge from the pupal stage, they are full grown, as are all flying insects. Some may be smaller/larger than others because of their social order but they are all adults. Hope this helps.

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Original Post: Yellow Jackets Made Home in Birdhouse

MichaelChang Member

I'm seeing a lot of activity as far as yellow jackets going in and out of the birdhouse. That birdhouse is along my path to the shed so I don't want to go in the path of all that foot traffic/flying traffic. There's a variety of sprays at Home Depot that can be used to kill them. Which one is the best? There's a lot of yellow jackets in there, in fact so many that they are spilling out of the entrance hole.

Top Comment:

PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

In an enclosed space such as a birdhouse, I'd use any of the wasp spray aerosols (jet type spray). I'd do it in the evening while you can still see but close to dark as all the foragers will be in there. Give it a five to 10 second blast. I'd wear glasses/goggles and make sure to get the nozzle just inside the birdhouse as opposed to standing back and trying to hit the little hole. That will cause waste, splash back, and few chemicals getting to where they need to go.

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Original Post: Yellow Jacket Yikes

KramerC Member

I'm concerned because of the sudden appearance of yellow jackets, which appear to be queens, in my family room. About a week ago, my neighbor's tree fell in my yard after an ice storm. He chopped up the tree and instead of throwing out the large pieces of wood, I decided to keep some of it as firewood. Unfortunately I didn't inspect the wood. I just brought it in and set it next to my fireplace. About a week goes by and I noticed a queen yellow jacket flying around that general area. I thought it was just one that had come in through the door. So I killed her and suddenly two more yellow jackets appear in the family room. I'm no expert but these other two also appeared to be queens. It's my understanding that any yellow jacket you see in early spring is more than likely a queen. What gets me is that I took all of the firewood back out of my house. And even after I removed the firewood completely from my home and inspected the entire family room one evening, the very next day more yellow jacket queens showed up. And they showed up in the window sill. When I look out the window, I see several yellow jackets going in and out of my house where the brick and the aluminum siding meet. I went outside with my mother and my aunt last night and sprayed every possible place we could with raid. About four years ago I had a very serious problem with a large hive in the chimney. I got that treated and thankfully nothing returned. That occurred in September 2014.

My questions are, do queens hide in firewood? Do you think she started building a nest in my house? How likely is it that I could have a large, active hive in my wall this early in Spring? Any other advice? I do have Terminix coming out on Tuesday.

Top Comment:

Hal_S Member

Eh, I don't think you're going to find multiple queens for any insect species.

Those look like carpenter wasps.

Do you have double hung windows? If so, open the top of a south-facing window about 1/8 of an inch.

Place a saucer of sugar water in that window, along with something fragrant like fresh flowers or an herbal tea bag.

They'll follow the scent, find the water, and then follow the sun and climb up the window and leave.

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