Enter the Yellow Jackets

Life is not always idyllic at our home on the edge of the woods. True, we have trees and birds and a patio in our backyard where we can enjoy the cool mysterious green of the forest. But this year we also have yellow jackets, lots of them, swarming the hummingbird feeders and scaring away those whizzing beauties.

Here is how yellow jackets are described on The Home Depot website: “Yellow jackets are a type of wasp that typically live in the ground…Yellow jackets are extremely aggressive insects that are drawn mainly to sugary liquids and meats. Each insect stings multiple times and injects venom into its victim.”

No wonder the hummingbirds have stopped coming to the feeder!

Funny thing is, we have had hummingbird feeders for ten years or more, and we have never had a problem with yellow jackets.Β  Perhaps there is a nest nearby? Readers, if you have had a similar experience, please do share it in the comments section.

Yesterday afternoon, in an uncharacteristic act of bravery, I took down the feeders and moved them to the far edge of the yard. As I removed the feeders, there were lots of yellow jackets buzzing around, but Chance was on my side, and I escaped injury. The yellow jackets did not follow me. Instead, looking for the absent feeders, the yellow jackets circled the pole. I suppose they were wondering where their sweet cornucopia had gone.

Hummingbirds have been sitting forlornly on the post where the feeders once hung. As soon as the yellow jackets went away, which they did after a while, I hung up the feeders. I’m sure you can guess what happened. The yellow jackets zipped back faster than you could say “blueberry pie.” Away went the hummingbirds and down came the feeders again.

Fortunately, the bee balm is still in bloom in the back garden. Hummingbirds adore bee balm, which appropriately are a-buzz with bumble bees, who are not as fierce as yellow jackets.

Such is life in the backyard. I never hold it against animals or insects for doing what is, after all, in their best interest. The yellow jackets were looking for food, which they need to survive as all living creatures do. Bingo! They found a sweet, plentiful source.

That’s not to say that anything goes in the garden—if there were a ground nest of yellow jackets right by the patio, we would have to get rid of it. However, I do try to be as tolerant possible. When a bear raided a feeder with sunflower seeds, we took the feeder down for a couple of weeks, and the bear never came back. When a racoon raided the same feeder, we found a baffle that foiled the clever creature. Sometimes sterner measures must be taken, but we save those as a last resort.

Now to end on an up-note with a bit of beauty, another picture of these daylilies. I wish I knew their name. I think it might be “Summer Wine,” but if anyone knows differently, please tell me.





41 thoughts on “Enter the Yellow Jackets”

  1. Yellow Jackets? Well, I’m not tolerant at all. πŸ™‚ A couple of years back, I sunk a shovel in the ground to move a plant and hit a nest. They swarmed me, and I ended up with 24 stings. I was in bad shape for a couple of days. You don’t shoo them away, they bite and hang on. Nasty critters. Once I was feeling okay, I bought a head covering to go with my long shirt and long pants and took on the nest to get rid of them so I could dig it up. Plenty of woods around me where they can take up residence. πŸ™‚ Online the info varies on how far they travel from their nest – 30′, 1000-2000′, or up to a mile. I’m sincerely hoping that as annoying as they are right now, they aren’t right there near your patio. Take care.

    1. I hear you! As I noted in my post, if I saw the nest in our yard, then it would be dispatched. So far, there is no evidence of it. But on the edge of our yard is the forest…

  2. Like you, I’m trying to be tolerant of creatures great and small, but when one pushes out the other, it’s frustrating. Guess you’ll be planting extra bee balm next year!

  3. Lucky bee balm spreads quickly! We have bees swarming our feeders too, both Oriol and hummingbird. I should tKe them down, but the young orioles are at the feeder all the time. So far neither they nor the hummingbirds seem too bothered. Our neighbors have a yellow jacket nest in their yard and have been stung, as has their dog. They’re working to get rid of it.

  4. Last year I had wasps in my greenhouse, there were so many of them but I never found a nest. They sucked all my grapes empty, I had about 30 kilo’s hanging there, I was so disappointed. This year I have already put bottles with sweet drinks in the greenhouse to attrack them so I hope I can catch them before the grapes are ripe. I hope your wasps will soon disappear !!

  5. I’d never heard of yellow jackets before and they sound very fiesty! Here’s hoping they won’t be around for long and the hummingbirds can feed in peace again πŸ’šπŸ™

  6. Sadly, I usually find nests accidentally and run like heck when I do. πŸ™‚ One year, I happened to look out early one morning and saw the rising sun illuminating them as they flew out of their nest in the lawn. I noted the spot and that night sprayed Raid down the hole. I felt lucky that all the times I rode the lawn mower over that hole that I didn’t get stung.
    Bears and skunks will dig up nests to eat if they smell them. But that is pretty random. You might see if you can visually track one back to its nest. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  7. I’ve learned to tolerate and even appreciate some wasps, but yellow jackets aren’t on that list. They have their role to play, but they are mean little devils, and when they show up around human dwellings, it’s time to dispatch them one way or another. What about providing sugar water out in the woods? Perhaps if you could get them to hang out there, the hummingbirds would have a chance.

  8. Oh my goodness, those Yellow Jackets sound dreadful, I hope you are able to get rid of them for good. I remember when Judy wrote about getting stung by them, until then I hadn’t heard of them.
    On a positive note, that daylily is absolutely stunning!

  9. I like your practical, tolerant approach to animals and insects doing what they need to do to survive. Yesterday, in one of our small, ocean towns that gets crowded with tourists and campers, campers left out food (after being warned not to). A bear came by, snorted and grunted but did leave. More food was left out. The bear came back again and was shot by police as a ‘nuisance bear’. I can’t believe that I am even writing this as I have been trying to block it from my mind. I understand the need for our safety, but we also all need to do our part.

  10. What a pity these wasps have put paid to your humming bird visits! I think taking the feeders down for a while might be a (temporary?) solution, providing their nest isn’t nearby. About two years ago I stopped putting food out for the birds in our garden because I realised I had unintentionally created a restaurant for rats! Given the drought conditions, it is understandable that they would be on the lookout for food. However, after a week or two, I resumed feeding – making sure that no food was left out overnight – and, happily the rats went to seek food elsewhere. Your day lily is a very pretty colour, one I have not seen before.

  11. Many a picnic or outside eating experience in England has been spoilt by wasps. I Googled ‘yellow jacket wasps’ and apparently they are the most common one in the UK but I’m not sure whether we are talking about the same variety here as the North American one. I sat on one on the beach once – which was, literally, a pain in the arse -. but try not to kill them as they are important pollinators. An actual nest in the garden could be a problem though Bon courage!

  12. No yellow jackets here thank goodness. Like Derek I was expecting some people in hi-vis who would probably have been friendlier. Like you I try to be tolerant of wildlife in the garden as long as they take the same attitude to me.

    1. We’re not exactly giggly to have those yellow jackets buzzing around us. But I have found a solution, which will be a topic for Friday’s post.

  13. Yellow Jacket stings are painful. I sure hope you figure out away to get rid of them so the hummingbirds can have their feeders back. That lily is gorgeous, l love the color.

  14. Not a fan of yellow jackets, Laurie. It’s one thing to “live and let live,” but it’s another entirely to face stinging from these pesky critters. We had wasps circling one of our back doors earlier in the spring, but fingers crossed, they’ve moved on. Hope you can find a solution to your problem, too!

  15. Love the beautiful lilies and what a perfect name!! We’ve had similar problems with wasps and place the feeders in different areas as every year they take over one of the hummingbird feeders and leave the other two for the hummingbirds until we take them down.

  16. Those daylilies are beautiful and the yellow jackets are horrible. They may be doing what comes naturally, but I can’t bring myself to lile them. Nor slugs. Nor mosquitoes. Nor Japanese beetles. I apologize for being a grumpy gardener woman, who hasn’t entirely learned to take the bad with the good insects. Sorree!

  17. Those yellow jackets sound very unpleasant! Our wasps are a nuisance, especially at this time of year but they aren’t quite so aggressive as yellow jackets appear to be. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen a wasp nest in our garden this year (there is usually at least one somewhere) and so far they haven’t caused too much trouble (they have ruined all the blackberries 😦 )
    I love that daylily!

  18. Your yellow jackets will likely move on next year, Laurie. I had them living in my walls for a summer, (the walls hummed) and the next year they had vanished. πŸ™‚ And beautiful lilies! That color is stunning.

  19. Ooh, yellow jackets do scare me. Nature doesn’t really make sense either: there are bumblebees all over my zinnias and bee balm, but the minute you get near, they seem to move away (so far, fingers crossed!) Why do yellow jackets and wasps seem so much more vicious?

  20. Just catching up here, Laurie. We have an annual yellow jacket problem. I believe there are more species of them out west than back east. There are a particular problem at harvest time at wineries out here. All that sweet grape juice being pressed is an attractant. We also try to be tolerant as possible on our own place. I have been stung multiple times when I accidentally came across a nest. It was not fun.

  21. Oops, previous post to this, as I am reading backwards, has reached the point where I can’t comment, so I just want to say your garden is lovely. I can put β€œlikes” though. My blog must be set to allow comments on any old post because I do occasionally get a comment on something quite old. The WP spam filter does a good job on removing the junk but occasionally removes a valid comment, which I find when I think to look at that folder.

    1. Thanks so very much! Your compliment means a lot to me. Yes, we have shut off comments older than two or three weeks. Can’t remember exactly. I was getting flooded with Spam, and that fixed the problem.

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