Introduction: DIY Yellow Jacket Bottle Trap

Picture of DIY Yellow Jacket Bottle Trap

This is my first instructable, so any feedback is greatly appreciated!  After discovering a yellow jacket ground nest near our front door a few days ago, I decided to look up ways to get rid of these mean insects without the pesticides. We have various wildlife and friendly insects in our yard, so I try to avoid pesticides.  A quick Google search resulted in a few solutions to my problem and this is the one I chose.  This method was super simple, pesticide free, eco safe and VERY effective.  Friends and family were pretty amazed at the results as was I!  So let's get started!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Here are the “tools” needed: wine (they prefer red to white), a clean water or soda bottle, a bread knife or scissors, and dishwashing liquid.  First, cut off the top quarter or third of the bottle. Add about ½ “ of wine and about two drops of dishwashing liquid.  Now flip that top over to make a funnel and place it snuggly back into bottle.  You are done!  See how easy that was?

Step 2: First Results - Hive #1

Picture of First Results - Hive #1

Here is the tricky (or fun depending on how you view it) part.  Place traps as close to the yellow jackets’ nest as possible. Since they had built their nests (yes, I said nests, plural, but I will explain that later) in the ground, I simply placed the traps close to where I saw them flying.  My first case scenario was near our front door close to a stick pile.  I made a red wine trap.  As you can see, they preferred the red wine.  Next day, yellow jackets were gone and floating inside the traps……or so we thought.  About four days after first testing these with good results, a new family must have moved in and stung my little boy who was simply coming inside after school.  Mama Bear mode kicked in!   I found some old bug spray in the garage and planned an assault despite my NO pesticide clause, but they must have known what I had in mind because they scattered.  Since we didn’t have red wine opened at the time, I used some old white wine that was about to be tossed and I quickly made two more traps.   Again, next day, yellow jackets drowned!

Step 3: Hive #2

Picture of Hive #2

The following day, I was walking from the mailbox and as luck would have it, found ANOTHER ground nest next to our driveway, right in the path of my kids coming home from school!  I quickly grabbed the previous three traps, made a new one with red wine, and off I went carefully placing the traps.  As soon as I walked inside, we looked out to see a SWARM of these evil buggers all around the traps!  I grabbed a camera, zoomed in and took a video from a safe distance (or so I thought). One zoomed past and stung me in the back of the head!  He even rode on top of my hair and made his second appearance in my kitchen where he was quickly eliminated.





Step 4: Final Results

Picture of Final Results

Five hours later with a quick rain storm thrown in there, we noticed there were no flying yellow jackets.  Upon closer inspection, we discovered filled traps!  I noticed a few strays flying out of the nest, so I made a fifth trap.  If my first four traps are any indication, I believe our yellow jacket problem has been solved, at least for today.


A few things to consider: try to use bottles with small openings to prevent escape; when you safely can, clean out the traps and refill when needed.  If you leave too many dead ones in there, they might crawl over their dead and find a way out.  I had much better luck with red wine as opposed to white (see photo of traps that were side-by-side and see which one was fuller!). 


I hope you have success with this eco safe, pesticide free yellow jacket trap! 

Step 5: Follow Up - Night Recon

Picture of Follow Up - Night Recon

Two days into this, we discovered that most of the traps had been knocked over or dragged away, probably by raccoons in the night.  Since there were a few stray yellow jackets flying around today (yes, one even went for my hair again!), I decided to do a night recon.  A few of the traps were opened and cleaned out, but the ones they weren’t able to open were full.  I left one bottle’s contents on the driveway because ants and spiders were having a feast, but in another bottle I commented to my husband that I had caught a huge wasp.  On closer inspection, we discovered it was the queen!  We both now believe that there is no way that all of these yellow jackets were drowning since the dead were 2+ inches deep in the bottles and there is only ½” of wine/detergent solution, so we are guessing that the solution somehow kills them.  No honey bees were killed in the making or implementation of this Instructable.

Step 6: Species Identification Debate & Fun Facts Learned

Picture of Species Identification Debate & Fun Facts Learned

Since I first posted this, there has been much debate as to whether or not I correctly identified the large one as being a yellow jacket queen. I have tried to answer all comments, but thought I would just add this step. I pulled the deceased out of the jar for closer photos which I have included. The discoloration is due to stewing in red wine (notice drops on white paper were coming from her body - she is quite preserved!), plus you can see her stinger. I am also including photos and charts I have gathered from all over the internet. I hope this helps give you a better view and size specification that I didn't provide before and then you can draw your own conclusion. Keep in mind I am in Middle Tennesse, USA, when you make your own assessments. Here is a link from Bug Guide. They are a great resource in identifying any crazy bug you may run across. I think the markings on mine are exactly like this one, but I'm no bug expert.

Here are some fun facts I have recently learned thanks to the many bug websites and comments on this Instructable. Bug experts, please correct me if you find any of these to be incorrect.

  • There are several yellow jacket species in the US and around the world.
  • Yellow jackets never come back to a hive once the season is over. Once it has been used, it is never used again, so there is no reason to destroy it if it is not bothering you.
  • Yellow jackets are more active at the end of August/beginning of September due to decrease in food supply and preparing new queens and drones for next year's hives.
  • New queens are the only ones that survive at the end of the season and hibernate through the winter in dead leaves, logs, homes, etc. Come spring, she builds a nest, sometimes in abandoned dens, and starts laying eggs of female workers. Once enough workers are grown, they start doing all the work so she can lay more eggs.
  • Drones are the only males and are from unfertilized eggs.
  • Drones do not have stingers.
  • Females can bite and sting, though you can probably tell the difference.
  • Many people had success in eliminating a hive with 1/2 cup of gasoline squirted in the nest at dusk or night. One even used liquid CO2 and froze them.
  • Only approach nest very early in the morning or at dusk when they have returned. Only go at night if you know EXACTLY where the hive's opening is.
  • NEVER shine a flashlight at the hive opening at night. It will only bring the defenders out.
  • If you do disturb the hive at night, turn off the flashlight or toss it on the ground. They will go for the light, not you....but still run to safety like your life depends on it!
  • The glass bowl trick may confuse most of them, but they can still dig new holes and find a way out. Maybe not all of them, but some of them.
  • Wine and vinegar do not attract honey bees, but do attract yellow jackets. They also enjoy sweet smells, Meat also attracts yellow jackets who are carnivores (who knew?!).
  • Honey bee venom and yellow jacket venom contain different properties. Do a search. It is an interesting read.
  • "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Multiply that by a thousand of these females and you have yourself a yellow jacket hive! They are vicious, resourceful, fascinating, but once they put me or mine in danger, all bets are off.

Step 7: Raccoon Finished Off Hive

Picture of Raccoon Finished Off Hive

Nine days after I discovered the hive, a raccoon decided to dig in! The glass bowl was simply pushed aside. The light colored area is the hive paper walls and inner cells.  I would have gotten closer (was inside car), but a few were still hanging around.

Step 8: Fall Update & Discovery

Picture of Fall Update & Discovery

Saturday, November 30, 2014: Was in the yard working on a fire pit and discovered two queens in separate areas that were burrowed in the ground waiting for spring so they could fly out and make their own nests. Needless to say, I was not overjoyed. One is currently in a jar next to me very angry that I woke her up from her beauty sleep and the other one wouldn't die even after I chopped her in half! I usually leave nature alone, but after reading this Instructable, I hope you understand why I didn't leave these two alone.


LeahN7 (author)2017-07-25

Wow! You have enough yellow jackets to be seriously dangerous. I had ivy like that and the wasps got in there as well. I was stung on two separate occasions and my husband killed them. Then, the next year, we discovered a new nest after my son ran over it with the lawn mower! Luckily he didn't get stung because it could have been BAD, but of course, I was stung. This time it was war. My crazy husband, with a bottle of spray and a shovel, completely dug it up. That was last year but I'm afraid they are back again. I'm going to try to trap because right now they are invading my hummingbird feeders.

boudreauml (author)2016-09-01

It looks wonderful! I can see having an empty bottle and knife in the picnic basket so that one can be set up anywhere. Does it have to be wine? What about coke? It would seem sweet enough to attract them.

Thanks for sharing.

MichaelH301 (author)boudreauml2016-09-01

You would want to be careful about what bait you use, pop might attract honey bees or other helpful/endangered insects. I would imagine 2-buck-chuck from Trader Joes would work just fine and target mostly/only yellow jackets.

georgemorgan (author)MichaelH3012016-09-01

That was my concern. I would like to get rid of the Warps but I am VERY concerned about Bees
dying. There is a serious ecological tragedy heading our way with the
shrinking population of bees. It doesn't look like this device can

PalletM (author)georgemorgan2016-09-01

Neighborhood honey bees are not at risk like commercially raised honeybees. They do not like yellow jacks/wasps so they tend to stay away from them.

Lay out a piece of watermelon and watch how the wasps go for it but not the honey bees.

Pchristu (author)PalletM2017-05-28

Yellowjackets are omnivores, it seems. They are happy with the sweet stuff when available, but will dine on bees in late summer when the nectar flow is scant. The bees appear to know this. Currently, in May, there's plenty for everyone, and my bees and some yellowjackets gather peacefully together at the water bowl. Later, in August/September, jackets will be sniping at my bees, picking off stragglers around the hive, occasionally attacking the hive en mass. Curiously, when in bee-attack mode they are seemingly and fatally disinterested in the beekeeper, who enjoys standing out by the hive on late summer evenings swatting the critters with a narrow roll of newspaper.

TheodoreF1 (author)PalletM2016-09-03

Excellent observation.

mhevesi (author)georgemorgan2016-12-14

if you put a few drops of vinegar that would act as a repellent for bees but it still attracts wasps.

rhemus (author)georgemorgan2016-09-01

The bait discriminates.

shortw (author)MichaelH3012016-09-01

In fact, honey bees are attracted to pop/soda etc etc.

rnunya (author)MichaelH3012016-09-01

Well it works on my mother in law... :D

spacolour (author)rnunya2016-09-01

You built a trap big enough for a mother in law....... Can you share these plans please.

BarbaraF38 (author)spacolour2016-09-01


rpriore (author)rnunya2016-09-01

This is my favorite instructable comment ever. Mostly because it is true...

ithica2012 (author)MichaelH3012016-09-01

Cider vinegar works well also as does grape juice

nanaverm (author)MichaelH3012016-09-01

$3 buck chuck now - inflation.

mark.howard (author)boudreauml2016-09-01

Mountain Dew and dish soap in a bowl will do wonders, so in this contraption it should work well also. The sugar attracts hornets, i've yet to see a honey bee or anything beyond a gnat or other no-see-um in our traps.

dlr717 (author)2017-03-12

Any suggestions for yellow jackets in house walls?

thebeatonpath (author)dlr7172017-03-12

Do you see where they are getting in? If so, set up traps around that.

dlr717 (author)thebeatonpath2017-03-12

Last fall, a beekeeper came to my home & said they were in my walls & would probably die off this winter. Well they did NOT! I live in SW CO, still snow on the ground. New yellow jackets are not flying in, yet. These are the ones that didn't die off, or were hibernating. Now that it's starting to get warmer, I can hear them again!

TheresaH9 (author)2016-11-10

I wish I could of made one for the swimming pool, but my dad told me that I can't take a yellow jacket trap there because its property! I don't like having wasps at the swimming pool, but there's nothing we can do about it cause they like chlorine water.

LucioL1 (author)2016-09-02

Despite having drawn the fear and loathing of humans, yellow jackets are in fact important predators of pest insects.[1]

So, why do you kill them?

snakeman6117 (author)LucioL12016-10-14

I trap and kill them because they are robbing my honey bee hives .

An evil necessity, They will rob the hive them honeybees won't have enough to make it through the winter

I do set out sugar water a couple hundred feet away from the hive but put traps close by them

jsixis (author)LucioL12016-09-21

wait till you run over their nest they make in the ground with a lawnmower
plus in the fall when they know they are just food for the queen they sting people just because they can.
They are not native to the US.

gregwhiteshark (author)LucioL12016-09-02

I'm a beekeeper and wasps are hovering around my hives picking off my sweet honeybees left and right. They are very aggressive and would rob my hives if they get half a chance. That would mean the end of my bees.

It absolutely breaks my heart when I hear stories like this, and see videos of *anything* attacking Honey Bees, as they are so sweet and pretty defenseless. I saw a show on TV about how their nests are being decimated by those F'ing (sorry, but gah!) Killer Bees! Watching them dive in and snap the heads off the little Honey Bees brought tears to my eyes, and made me sick to my stomach... and the rate they multiply is terrifying!! Are you going to try these traps? Have you found anything that is working against them to save your little bees?? :*( :*( :*(

RobF10 (author)LucioL12016-09-04

When standing outdoors it doesn't matter if a person smells of body odour, deodourant, coffee, perfume, feet, someone else's feet or even the biblical gift of Frankencence a wasp will still choose you over all things available to fly within inches of and it will do so near your head, neck or torso. It will continue to do this even if you try to move away from it.

If I was known to be aggressive, to sting without provocation and continuously got up in people's faces I would expect to be killed. Wasps, or YJ's as they are known in the US, clearly have not evolved to recognise humans as animals that do not like to be antagonised.

That and one stung me on the testicle when I was 11.

Spoveromo (author)LucioL12016-09-02

I am allergic to their sting. Almost killed me as a child.

thebeatonpath (author)LucioL12016-09-02

Because they were attacking my kids and myself UNPROVOKED. My teenager is still traumatized because of them and freaks out anytime a flying insect gets near him now. If the yellow jackets had not been near the house, I would not have had a problem with them, but they were aggressively coming after us every time we went outside.

AlexR113 (author)2016-09-15

This was an EPIC Instructable!! Great job!!

jhsyds37 (author)2016-09-13

very well done! thank you adding to my favorites

Tristan Schell (author)2016-09-13

you can use coffee if you dont have wine

jimvandamme (author)2016-09-06

Yellow jackets are carnivorous, and feed on the bugs that are eating my garden. So I leave them alone now, as long as they don't build nests near the house.

I usually don't bother them if they don't bother us; however, they were attacking us unprovoked.

Crawling in my beer can means war!

menax4 (author)2016-09-05

Just made two today!
Thank you!

JohnD316 (author)2016-09-05

I think this is a great idea. It has been around for quite a while a very worthwhile putting it out there again. Also, in the house when it's Fruit Fly season a half-glass of red wine with plastic wrap stretched over the top and a few pencil sized holes punched in that wrap does the trick on them. Bees were my concern also and you only have to try this in your area to see what happens. Bees generally will not intermix near yellow-jacket's territory.

pglassbrenner (author)2016-09-04

It would seem that M40 is a prepper and does not believe in climate warming. Let's try something novel. How about supplying some real scientific data from many of the learned professionals you are talking about. The ones that have the necessary credentials to be able to speak intelligently about the profession they work in.

OK, can we get back to yellow jackets?

ystetak (author)2016-09-04

We made these and they work. Thank you. We used red wine first, then after noting the bugs attraction to Monster Energy drink, we tried it. Bottles with Monster caught mor bugs and various types.

Cayotica (author)2016-09-03

never imagined that old yellow jack(ets) had a drinking problem, learn something new everyday.

LesliH1 (author)2016-09-03

I made sone of these but with sugar and vinegar and nothing so I just threw them away. But after seeing your results, Im thinking Im going to try them your way. Lol

Sassy Cat (author)2016-09-02

I love this Instructable!!! And you can bet I am going to make one, in fact, I am going to make several of them. The Yellow Jacket sting is deadly to me to. And these insects are all over my yard. If they want to survive, they better find somewhere else to live.

APPLESLAYER1551 (author)2016-09-02

this works great I was using coke and after read this switched ti red wine which works 10 times better thx

That is awesome!

tkjtkj (author)2016-09-02

Isn't it also possible that, rather than red wine attracting them, the red wine and/or the blue bottle neck were seen by the bees to be attacking them ..!? This might also explain why the queen joined in ... You did say and show the vid where bees seemed more to be 'hitting' the trap , in your words .. One would need two otherwise identical traps to be sure .. Perhaps the yellow of 'white wine' is invisible to them ..

Would be nice to do some experimenting..

Very nicely done 'structable! thanks!

thebeatonpath (author)tkjtkj2016-09-02

It wasn't bees hitting it. It was the yellow jackets. : )

Mark 42 (author)2016-09-02

These sound like they'll be great for when I can't be out in the yard with a giant propane torch.
I hate yellow jackets & wasps. I love to watch them go down in flames.

boatmakertoo (author)2016-09-02

Yellow jackets used to be the scourge of camp grounds. My wife would rid our camping area of them by direct action. A piece of spam or cold cuts and a flyswatter were her weapons. The meat attracted them to a picnic table and the swatter did the rest. It usually took only a short time and provided amusement while multitasking other camp chores or reading. The red wine thing surprises me and the bottle trap is a great idea. I wonder if there is a preferred bait for yellow hornets. Plastic bottle traps of similar construction also serve for catching bait fish. Large plastic water bottles work best for this purpose. Bait the bottle with a little cat food, bread or whatever. A pebble inside will aide in sinking the trap. I use paperclips to wire the inverted top to the larger base. Catching small fish in this way amuses and instructs the children as well as providing bait for serious fishing.

ST NZ (author)2016-09-01

has anyone seen how many comments there are on this instructable?!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I love to learn new things, create and build cool stuff and tend to think outside of the box. I like to think of myself ... More »
More by thebeatonpath:DIY Yellow Jacket Bottle Trap
Add instructable to: