I know most folks are not fans of stinging insects, but at least bees give us honey and are gentle most of the time. You sure can’t say the same for wasps and hornets, though, and among wasps the common yellow jacket is probably the most hated.
These little scumbags always show up on your flowers, at your trash can, drinking from your hummingbird feeders, and anywhere else there is anything whatsoever to eat.
They are especially prevalent as summer comes to an end and they ravenously start to collect other sources of food for their nest.
And very much unlike bees and solitary wasps which tend to mind their own business, yellowjackets will sting you if they even think you’re interfering with their foraging.
As scary as it is to consider, getting rid of the nest before it grows too big might be your best bet.
But if you don’t want to get lit up with painful stings from head to toe you’ll need something that will kill them instantaneously.
Lots of things will kill yellow jackets, but not everything kills them instantly for safety’s sake. Learn what will, and what won’t, below…
Will Wasp Sprays and Pesticides Kill Yellow Jackets Instantly?
Many will, but not all. This depends on the formulation and the type of spray. Most wasp sprays, and many other insect sprays, are formulated using pyrethrin or other pyrethroids and pretty much work instantly on contact to paralyze insects.
This is why a good shot, or dose, will see yellow jackets and other wasps drop straight to the ground right out of the air. Sure, they might twitch and try to walk around, but their aerial assault is over for the most part.
Even better, and my preferred type of countermeasure, is the foaming type which will physically gum up their wings on contact.
This is a second measure of effectiveness that can drop the yellow jackets in their tracks, even if it takes a few seconds for them to die.
Whatever sort of product you’re looking for, whoever the manufacturer is, and whatever it says it is rated for, look on the label for ingredients like prallethrin, cypermethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and tetramethrin. That way you can be sure they will do the job.
Does Pesticide Dust Kill Yellow Jackets Instantly?
No, as a rule. Compared to liquid sprays and foam, most pesticide dust takes time to kill even if it does so relatively quickly.
Insects have to come into contact with it and generally be in contact with it for some time even if this is through ingestion or adhesion.
Dust is highly effective at reducing nest populations and much of the time killing off nests entirely, but if you need to quickly battle a swarm of yellow jackets or clog up the entrance to their nest so they can’t get out and give you hell, dust probably isn’t what you want.
Is a valuable tool in a professional exterminator’s arsenal, and it has utility for homeowners and homesteaders for perimeter control and protecting vulnerable locations, but it’s not something you want to lead an offensive with.
Will Borax Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, it will. But it won’t do it instantly- usually! Borax is basically just boric acid and is a commonly available staple at hardware stores, many grocery stores, and other related retailers.
Is it possible to use borax to depopulate a nest by sprinkling boric acid powder at the entrance of the nest at night so yellow jackets will be exposed as they come and go the following day, or if you are dealing with a ground nest you might mix up a strong solution of boric acid and then pour it into the hole if you’re sure that it can completely saturate the next.
Doing so can both drown and poison any yellowjackets inside, but make sure you do this at night so you get them all in one shot.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, DE will kill yellowjackets but again it won’t do it instantly. Diatomaceous earth is a pretty interesting material, made of the ground-up shells of ancient water-dwelling creatures called diatoms.
The material their shell is made of, when fossilized, turns out to be highly abrasive though it is all-natural.
DE also has a precedent for use in all sorts of natural pest control applications because it can lacerate the exoskeleton of insects large and small, causing them to lose vital moisture and eventually desiccate and die.
It can do the same thing to yellowjackets, but it takes a long time to work, and considering the population and reproductive rate of a yellow jacket colony it is highly unlikely to terminate the nest wholesale.
Does Neem Oil Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, neem oil can kill and repel yellow jackets, but it doesn’t kill them instantly. Neem oil works against the yellow jackets because it has compounds which will upset their hormonal system.
Eventually, this makes them kind of lose their minds and eventually lose control over their biological processes.
But, once again, it takes time. Time, I remind you, you probably don’t have when you have to throw down with a thronging nest of the damn things.
However, neem oil is a good tool in your arsenal because you can use it to help protect areas from yellow jacket intrusion; they tend to avoid the stuff and give it a wide berth if they can.
Does Diesel Fuel Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, perhaps surprisingly, diesel fuel can kill yellow jackets more or less instantly on contact. You don’t even have to light it!
Diesel fuel is sort of a multi-spectrum killer of yellow jackets because it has compounds that are toxic to them. It can also dissolve the waxy coating protecting their exoskeleton.
Also, the intense fumes generated by diesel can prevent them from breathing, especially when you pour it on to the nest.
However, diesel fuel has serious drawbacks: it certainly isn’t safe to use something so combustible for eliminating yellow jackets, and the combustion hazard is only intensified if you put it into a sprayer.
Furthermore, it is highly toxic and will contaminate the ground where you pour it or spill it, so that’s not good. Use it only in a pinch if you have no other option.
Does Gasoline Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, gasoline will kill yellow jackets. It has all of the advantages and all of the disadvantages of diesel fuel above, but it should be pointed out that it is dramatically more flammable, especially when misted.
The slightest ignition source will cause a fire or a dangerous explosion!
Can Boiling Hot Water Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, it can and will. Boiling hot water is an especially nasty death for yellow jackets because it will burn them on contact, overheat them, and cause severe internal injuries instantly.
Additionally, if you inundate the nest with boiling water it will drown them on top of all of that.
However, spraying boiling water is a no-go for obvious reasons, although a purpose-designed high-temp steam generator wand might have some efficacy against small swarms of yellow jackets.
Do be cautious when using boiling water because it’s very easy to burn yourself severely, and depending on the orientation of an in-ground nest, it might not produce a complete kill.
Does Dish Detergent Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, but with caveats. Dish detergent can kill yellow jackets, but it does so slowly because it degrades once again the waxy cuticle on their exoskeleton that’s responsible for holding in their moisture and protecting it from damage.
However, a strong, soapy solution of dish soap and water can instantly disable yellow jackets if you splash it on them or spray it on them.
Basically, the viscosity of the solution will prevent them from flying, although it will not prevent them from stinging or make them lose control of their motor functions! Be careful…
Does Dry Ice Work Against Yellow Jackets?
Yes, it can, but it doesn’t kill instantly and it probably doesn’t kill the way you are thinking. Extreme cold is harmful or fatal to most insects, but that isn’t how we’re going to use dry ice.
If you have an underground, or partially underground, yellow jacket nest you can get your hands on some dry ice and then pile the blocks of the stuff at the entrance to the nest before covering it completely with plastic wrap or even soil.
Make sure it is completely covered and packed tight. What happens is that as the dry ice evaporates it turns back into carbon dioxide which will flood the nest and suffocate every last yellow jacket inside.
Highly effective, environmentally friendly, and relatively quick compared to other methods but not something that will drop them instantly, and obviously of no help against airborne yellow jackets.
Does Peppermint Oil Repel or Kill Yellow Jackets?
It can repel, and potentially kill. Peppermint oil, when combined with a little bit of water and some dish soap, is highly irritating to yellowjackets and they tend to stay away from surfaces it has been sprayed on. Note that it generally won’t keep them out of the area, however.
This works because peppermint oil is itself a sort of natural pesticide. However, it’s nowhere near as effective as neem oil or any commercially produced pesticide.
Do Protein Baits Kill or Control Yellow Jackets?
Yes, on both counts. Yellow jackets are constant foragers of protein, and so specially formulated and poisoned protein baits are highly effective against them in the long run.
However, they aren’t going to help you with any yellow jackets that are out of control and stinging the daylights out of your visitors to your backyard barbecue.
They will, however, eventually result in the collapse of the colony if you keep the baits out long enough because eventually too many of them will die off from eating the tainted bait. Including, perhaps, the queen.
A great option for eliminating a nest in an out-of-the-way place, but not great if you need a quick kill.
Is Lemon Juice Effective at Killing Yellow Jackets?
No, unfortunately. Lemon juice seems to have some efficacy at deterring other ground-bound insects, but the same cannot be said for yellow jackets that can easily avoid it.
It is possible that the stronger acids in lemon juice could harm yellow jackets to a degree, but it does not seem to show much promise.
In fact, it isn’t out of the question that yellow jackets might be attracted to lemon juice in passing. It is probably too acidic for them, but it does contain sugar and sugary substances attract yellow jackets and other wasps.
Will Liquid Nitrogen Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, absolutely. Even incidental contact with liquid nitrogen will destroy yellow jackets.
One of the most spectacular ways to kill off these insects’ nest entirely is to dunk it or douse it in liquid nitrogen. This has been the stuff of Internet fame for some time…
While absolutely lethal, this isn’t a good option: liquid nitrogen is very expensive, difficult to handle, and dangerous to be around.
It’s even more dangerous and difficult to handle and be around if you’re being stung by tiny flying insects.
There are much better options for eliminating yellow jackets safely and quickly with less fuss.
Can Carbon Dioxide Kill Yellow Jackets?
Yes, it can. As detailed above with dry ice, carbon dioxide can suffocate yellow jackets.
The trick is that you must put the yellow jackets in a sealed environment, or administer the CO2 without allowing oxygen to get into the nest.
Yellowjackets will be almost instantly incapacitated by high concentrations of carbon dioxide gas, and even a minute or two worth of application is probably enough to kill them utterly.
But, once more, this is a specialized method for dealing with them and is it going to help you if you’re dealing with an airborne swarm.
Do Imitation Nests Deter Yellow Jackets?
Yes, possibly! Although it won’t do a thing to actually kill them, there is plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence to suggest that imitation yellow jacket nests are a workable deterrent against actual yellow jackets.
It turns out that some, though not all, yellow jackets will avoid building near a pre-existing nest.
In my experience, the best thing you can do if you want a nest decoy is to get an actual nest and put that up instead. Turns out there’s no substitute for the real thing!
You can either eradicate a yellow jacket nest via gas or dust and then harvest the intact structure for this purpose, or even find real nests from specialty supply stores online.
The real trick with this method is that yellow jackets are highly adaptable and persistent, and if they’re thinking about nesting in the area, they’ll just find some other nook or crevice to make their home.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.