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!

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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

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.

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Does this work inside. I keep finding 1 or two small yellow jackets on my bed in my bedroom. Our house has not attic so I guess the bedroom is like the attic. If I put this on the corner of my bed will that work or attract more to come in the room? They are not aggressive at all for some weird reason. I think they are babies but I don't want to end up rolling on one in my sleep and getting stung. Weird I don't see them everyday just 1 or 2 during a day and then it goes a few days with no seeing any.

thebeatonpath (author)  heather.w.mcrae7 months ago
I'm not sure. I would almost be afraid it would attract others inside. Are you sure they are yellow jackets and not red wasps? We occasionally get a random red wasp inside, though you say it is yellow jackets. Doesn't sound like you know where they are coming in or I would tell you to put the trap near the source. I just saw a story of a family in the UK who had a HUGE wasp nest built on an upstairs bed (in a bedroom they rarely went into). Took the exterminator hours to kill them all AND he was only able to salvage the quilt (they had eaten through the pillow and mattress). It was the freakiest nest and location I had EVER seen. You DO NOT want them building a next inside your walls or home. Let me know what you do.

that just about summs up all my fears

Heather, chances are you have yellow jackets in the ceiling or in a wall and the adults access it from outside. We used to get them in our family room downstairs. They would come out from the recessed ceiling lights. I finally saw them entering through an old cable hole. So they will crawl towards the light and get out. So check around outside real carefully and look for a possible access hole. I finally sprayed wasp killer in the hole and sealed it with silicone. You could really hear them buzzing inside the ceiling tiles for about ten minutes. We turned the light off because they were making their way out at first.

sggriff8 months ago

I tried this trap with mixed results. I made it as illustrated and the first day I did trap many yellowjackets (nested in a holly, therefore could not use spray because it kills holly and evergreen shrubs). After the first day, the insects stopped entering the trap. I left it out for a few days and even tried recreating with new wine. I never trapped another yellow jacket using this method. I did eventually solve by applying a pyrethrin product called Evergreen Dust.

if your looking for a quicker solution to kill yellow jackets find the hole pour gasoline down the hole and throw a match down there

I had a friend who tried that with a fire ant nest and it blew and caused a grass fire. Lighting it is unnecessary and dangerous. Gasoline fumes are deadly to yellowjackets, and the fumes are heavier than air and fill the nest. So no need to light it. A very small amount is all that is needed. Don't do it in the day, or you will miss all that have left the nest and are foraging. Also don't do it near any building and any source of spark or ignition.

thebeatonpath (author)  ben.groom.5207 months ago

My boys would have LOVED that solution! haha

thebeatonpath (author)  sggriff7 months ago

I had a few out at a time and would empty them out and add more when they started getting full. Not sure what happened.

I did try several traps, with a variety of red wines. After the first "harvest" they never regained interest in the traps. I tried freshening the "bait" for a few successive days. I tried conventional yellow jacket traps as well with zero results. I have access to a do it yourself pest control store. They recommended the pyrethrin dust (made from chrysanthemums...sp?). The only negative thing: the applicator, actually a puffer, has a short stem. I thought I had waited until it was late enough, but I was stung by 8 insects when I first tried to apply. The next morning, it was cool enough to get the dust into their hole. Thank you for all of the information you have posted, I found it very helpful.

I definitely want to try this! One question - will this attract or harm hummingbirds? Last summer I never had a problem with yellow jackets, but this year I put up a hummingbird feeder, and the yellow jackets started coming around about a month ago. I haven't seen any hummingbirds around for several days, and I'm guessing they have gone away for the fall/winter already, but in case they're still around, I don't want to harm them!

thebeatonpath (author)  IN_apt_dweller6 months ago
This will not harm hummingbirds because they are not attracted to wine. They probably left because of the migration and the yellow jackets hanging around.
carolee.budd6 months ago




thebeatonpath (author)  carolee.budd6 months ago
Thanks for the information!
mavisclare6 months ago

A bunch of yellow jackets were swarming around my trash can today so I set about making these traps -- I tried one with red wine and one with apple cider vinegar, which another site recommended. The jackets showed ZERO interest in either. Waste of good wine! So I went back to relying on my own experience of west coast picnics -- yellow jackets swarm around meat products, not around wine. I pulled a chicken bone from the trash and put it in a trap with water -- viola! Caught 4 already, compared to 0 in the other two. Highly recommend just using your food scraps, instead of wasting perfectly good wine!

thebeatonpath (author)  mavisclare6 months ago
I had read that a little piece of meat would attract them as well, but have never tried that one. As far as wasting wine, one inch of wine was worth it for me. : ) I guess it worked for me because I put it next to their hive. I'm glad you caught those with the chicken bone. Hopefully you will get them all!
tkjtkj8 months ago

Don't tread on thESE!

(Actually, the advice is to prevent the gooey chocolate from messing-up your floor ...)

thebeatonpath (author)  tkjtkj7 months ago

RECIPE PLEASE! I love it!!!!

Oh gosh ! I got that pic via a google search for 'bees' .. but yeah i'd like to make some too! SOO,
i searched for some recipe links .. Hope these help you :

and maybe this:

Let us know how they turn out!
thebeatonpath (author)  tkjtkj7 months ago


MeNmyShadow7 months ago

Thank you so much for the great instructions. I have 2 nests somewhere in the front of my house and my poor boyfriend got stung 3 times on his ear yesterday. He is riding in in motorcycle race tomorrow and his helment is going to be terribly uncomfortable. I hope these traps work so I dont have to worry about my 3 dogs getting stung!

thebeatonpath (author)  MeNmyShadow7 months ago
I hope you have as much success as we did! They are ruthless and will sting ANYONE and ANYTHING unprovoked that gets near them. Let me know what your results are. : ) And good luck to your boyfriend in his race!
Brownsong1 year ago
Just got stung 12 times mowing over a new found ground nest in my front yard. Once the stinger shock wears off I'm following your instructions and declaring war. Thanks!!!
tkjtkj Brownsong8 months ago

Try dabbing some liquid household bleach on any bee-sting ...

assuming of course, you've no allergy to it ... Let us know how well it works for you ..(I'm NOT suggesting you go out and find the nearest nest !!! ;)

thebeatonpath (author)  Brownsong1 year ago
I am so sorry to hear that! Those buggers are aggressive and their stings really hurt, too! On the bright side, you now know where the nest is and have a resource to help get rid of them! Your nest was probably set up in the fall by a new queen leaving another nest to establish her own. Let me know how it goes and make multiple bottles if you can.
Deep Asleep8 months ago
thebeatonpath (author)  Deep Asleep8 months ago
That I am. ;)
lbrudd made it!10 months ago

Nothing yet

thebeatonpath (author)  lbrudd10 months ago
What did you use as your "bait"? Red wine worked for us better than anything else, but I've heard of people using sugar water or soda. Those and white wine did not work well on our hive. Also, it has to be near the hive.
mariatelk1 year ago

Great idea for the soda bottles. I've been using my canning jars, but now I'll just save my plastic 2 liter pop bottles. After I can my apples, peaches, etc. I save the leftover syrup and freeze it in ice cube trays. During the yellow jacket season I thaw out a few cubes and place them in the jars. Works great! You're right on the dish soap, haven't tried it yet, but will this spring. Clogs their little pores... Disposal problems? Grab those traps (covered with something) and place them in the freezer. After a couple of hours they can be safely be flushed down the toilet. Back to Mother Nature!

You can barely see them, but you can hear them, I can only imagine how many wasps!
It's great that it doesn't attract bees :)
Could any type of sugared beverage work for this?
thebeatonpath (author)  Mudslide5441 year ago
I thought sugar water/soda would work just as well, but it didn't which was weird. I have seen them make a beeline (pardon the pun) for soda cans outdoors and know someone who got stung on the lip because one ended up in his can. If you don't have wine, try soda. For some reason, they preferred red wine over white, so maybe try Coke/Pepsi over Sprite/7-Up.
egor1021 year ago
When I was a kid and feeling bullet proof I used a garden hose to knock down nests from the rafters and trees. The wasps eventually left because they couldn't find thier fallen next so I collected it and had my own discovery channel adventure exploring the nest. The biggest I did this too was 8 inches and got me stung once in the process but it was summer and we had to make our own fun.:)
thebeatonpath (author)  egor1021 year ago
I remember my dad coming home from a hunting trip with a huge one from a tree. I loved looking at that thing (no bugs present, of course).
fallen nest is what I meant to say lol
Nasty friends got there
thebeatonpath (author)  nickolaiisoe2 years ago
Nasty indeed. Hoping they found another yard to invade this year.
RangerJ2 years ago
Very good instructable. I plan to file it for next summer. Thanks
annschmech2 years ago
I also found a great source of information, when I'm completely stumped, is my local county extension office. They live for questions like bug id and plant id. I would also guess that if there's any university in the area, there's an entomologist who might be helpful. I've almost always found the academic sort to be helpful.
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