Yellow Jacket Update

In a previous post, I wrote about how we were being bothered by yellow jackets, a type of wasp common in Maine. They were buzzing the hummingbird feeders. They were buzzing us. No fun at all.

Sadly, we took down the hummingbird feeders. This took care of yellow jackets terrorizing the hummingbirds, but they still continued to pester us. Online, we read a tip about drawing away yellow jackets by putting sugar water in a bowl and setting it some distance from where you sit.

Easy enough, and that’s exactly what we did.

I am happy to report that this plan is working beautifully. The yellow jackets are so drawn to the bowl of sugar water that they leave us alone. Japanese beetles and ants are also attracted to it, and it seems that many of them can’t figure out how to eat without drowning. Every day, there is a collection of insect corpses—including yellow jackets—and the dish must be emptied, cleaned and refilled.

No matter. Cleaning and refilling the dish doesn’t take long, and it’s wonderful to sit on the patio and not have to worry about being stung by a yellow jacket.

As for the hummingbirds…the bee balm is still in bloom, providing plenty of nectar for those little Wills-o’-the-wisp.

In a week or so, we might put up one of the feeders to see what happens. We’ll see.

In the meantime, no pesky yellow jackets and hummingbirds that are getting what they need.

76 thoughts on “Yellow Jacket Update”

  1. When I saw the post title, I was concerned and hoped the story had a happy ending. It sounds like you came up with a very effective solution. I was taking a break the other day, sat down in a chair, looked to my right, and there were three yellow jackets enjoying some hosta flowers. I moved over a little to give them plenty of room. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Such a clever happy outcome! Living in California with constant news of horrific fires, continuing pandemic, drought and the expensive recall of our democratic governor makes any positivity very much appreciated. I love this noninvasive simple solution. I am happy that your lovely patio and garden are full of life for you to continue enjoying.

      1. That was Loving Husband … I just happened to be in the way!

        Anyhoo, I have a thing about dead critters … I feel very sad & traumatised, even if they are bugs. As I am typing, I am having a very visceral memory of cricket season in Texas – the pathways are strewn with crickets and no way to avoid them!

  3. That does work. I think you may be seeing more of them because of the drought. The ground nesting ones need dry soil to nest in. Conditions seem ideal right now.

  4. How wonderful that such a simple solution was found – I enjoyed the photograph of your patio with the sugar-water dish placed well away.

  5. Well that was a happy way to solve the problem, and insects, wasps, humming birds, and humans are happy, what more can you ask? Well done!

  6. Distraction is sometimes the best solution. If you’ll forgive me, I have another story that illustrates this theme. Way back in the 1930s, when motoring was quite new and motor cars were the preserve of the rich, an English aristocrat and his wife liked to take summer drives into the beautiful countryside surrounding their ancestral estate, so that they could enjoy “afternoon tea”, featuring sweet crumbly scones spread with strawberry jam (that’s what Americans refer to as “jelly”) and clotted cream. This meal is regarded as a special treat here, and the pair used to take their butler along with them to do the hard work of setting it up and serving it.

    On one occasion, however, the aristocratic couple found themselves plagued by angry wasps, which buzzed relentlessly around them. Their afternoon was ruined. The husband was in favour of packing up and returning to their mansion, but his wife hit on an idea. ” Let’s distract the wasps”, she proclaimed. She instructed the butler to remove his bowler hat, revealing his shiny bald head. She then spread strawberry jam all over it, and told the wretched man to stand a little way off. Attracted by the sweet, sticky, delicious jam the wasps quickly turned their attention to the butler, leaving the aristocratic pair to enjoy their wonderful, tasty afternoon tea in peace. History doesn’t record what became of the butler…Nothing good, I suspect!

    I don’t know of this story is true. Probably not, I guess. But the mere fact that it can be plausibly told reveals all you ever need to know about the English class system in the early 20th century!

  7. Brilliant! We don’t have yellow jackets here but I do remember people using ‘nearly empty’ jars of jam with some water added to attract wasps away from picnics or tea in the garden. Sometimes those old ideas are the best and so simple.

  8. I remember, as a child, that when we had picnics we would open a can of soda and place it a little distance from us. It seemed to work.

  9. I have seen this done with saucers of jam at stately homes here so people can have coffee and cake in peace. Sugar water seems a better option!

  10. I used it last year with my grapes, alas there were just too many of them and they all sucked my grapes dry. So this year I was early with my bottles of sweet stuff in order to nip them in the bud but this year no yellow jackets but big flies, they drown in the sweet stuff but again they are so numerous and they too suck my grapes dry !!!! I never had this problem before, only the last 2 years, I don’t like to use poison as my dogs go in the greenhouse sometimes and occasionally a bird comes in.

  11. I’m glad the plan worked. I was interested in your readers who mentioned it as a ‘simple’ or ‘good’ wheeze. Since I associate wheezing with chest congestion and difficult breathing, I couldn’t figure that one out. However! The search engine to the rescue; I found this very interesting short article that explains what it means, although there’s some uncertainty over how it evolved.

  12. I don’t know about you, Laurie, but I’m always sad when I find drowned insects, as many of them are beneficial. I wonder if putting a thin mesh or grid over the sugar bowl, to give the insects something to perch on when they drink, might solve the problem.

  13. I have a less humane solution that also works – wasp traps made from plastic bottles. Kills wasps but tends to leave other insects unharmed. I last used them about five years ago when we were plagued with wasps on the farm, so it’s not as if I kill many wasps.

    I actually like them – very entertaining creatures, but if they sting me I tend to react badly and the site of the sting often grows to a wound the size of a 10p piece/quarter dollar.

    1. Sometimes, needs must. For us, the bowl of sugar water has worked, and I am going to empty it to see if those worker wasps have decided to go elsewhere.

  14. Laurie, We have seen few yellow jackets thus far. That said, we are in the midst of putting a screened area on our deck to have some protection from them and from the mosquitoes that carry EEE. While the summer has been dry until now, we fully expect this wet periods to bring out the hoards and want to be prepared. We took down all of our feeders as a precaution against whatever is killing so many songbirds, although there are few cases here. Best to be proactive, even if the birds do not approve.

  15. That’s a great tip. I would have assumed, like many people would, that more sugar water is just going to attract more wasps! It’s a shame you had to take down the hummingbirdfeeder though. I hope you get to put it back up again.

    1. It really seems to have worked. The yellow jackets have stopped coming to the sugar water, and they aren’t buzzing us. We are thinking of putting up at least one feeder to see how it goes.

  16. This is kind of grotesque butโ€ฆwhen we were camping, my dad used to catch a fish (his main purpose in camping was to fish), hang it at the edge of our campsite over a bowl of soapy water. The Yellowjackets would gorge on fish till they fell off into the water and drowned. It actually did work.

  17. That’s a great solution, especially if you’re getting rid of the Japanese beetles along with the wasps. I am not particularly fond of either. The beetles want to kill my roses, and I’ve been stung too many times by yellowjackets (on the tongue, once, because one had crawled into a can of beer that I had set down, picked up, took a sip, and ouch!).

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