Yellow Jacket Ground Nest Trap From 5 Gallon Water Bottle

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About: Enjoy going camping with my wife off the back of our motorcycles. We're always having fun doing projects around our old house and teaching our daughter how to repair things.

What a wonderful summer! The weather's been nice. The garden is plentiful. It's been great cooking out on the grill and having dinner outside nightly. And then....YELLOW JACKETS! What a way to ruin a good time outside, especially when hitting a ground nest with the lawn mower. After a trip to the pharmacy for itch cream for my wife's stings I went to the hardware store to get some spray. Several kinds. Several different active ingredients. Several nights going out to spray the opening. Nothing worked. I think the spray acted as a super-multi-mega vitamin for them because the activity of the nest increased each day as they multiplied instead of died.

Ready to go indoors until the temperature dropped I figured that there must be a way to get rid of them. I saw an extra 5 gallon water bottle and thought there must be a way to use it to make a trap. And the rest is history...and so are the yellow jackets!

Step 1: Gather the Supplies

The materials list is short and cheap.

1 - 5 gallon water bottle

1 - can of wasp spray

1 - roll of tape (wide packing type tape is best)

The only tool needed is a saw or snips, whichever you prefer for cutting the bottle.

Step 2: Cut the Top Off the Bottle

Cut the top off the bottle with your saw or shears. I used the back of my machete since it was within arm's reach when I started making this. Where else would I have it?

This bottle has easy lines to follow to keep the cut straight and even all the way around.

Step 3: Fasten the Top

Turn the top upside down and place it on the topless bottle. Now it's a bottle with an inverted top. Tape the two pieces together. This is where the wider tape comes in handy. It was easy to run it around the outside and then fold it over, securing the two pieces nicely. I thought about using some sort of glue but realized I wouldn't be able to empty the many yellow jackets I will catch if the pieces are permanently attached.

Step 4: Your Trap Is Finished!

The trap is now complete. This was probably one of the fastest projects I've done. But the true test was yet to come. Will this trap actually trap?

To find out I went to the nest in the dark. I would suggest you do the same. I sprayed some of the wasp spray into the nest and placed the trap upside down over the hole, making sure there were no gaps around the edges. Then I went inside to eagerly await the rising of the sun to see what happened.

Step 5: Success

It worked like a champ! In the morning as the yellow jackets left the nest they flew right into the bottle and were unable to get out. The fumes from the spray quickly and humanely killed the yellow jackets. A few seemed to have gotten out around the edges (or possibly from a second hole in the ground that I can't find) but the population of the nest has definitely decreased significantly.

Step 6: Additional Thoughts

If you try this please consider the type of flying, biting, stinging things you are dealing with. Yellow jackets can be aggressive and dangerous. There is a large honey bee nest in our yard I am leaving alone and do not want to disturb since the benefit of them outweighs the risk. I think this trap could be used without poison to catch and relocate by taking them somewhere and removing the tape. And then run as fast as you can!

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    46 Discussions

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    Jozebeerze

    2 months ago on Step 6

    If you also have a honeybee nest , might I suggest taking up bee keeping. Honey bee colonies should be managed.

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    realife11Kink Jarfold

    Reply 2 months ago

    yellow jackets are actually wasps.. No relation to bees.

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    Kink Jarfoldrealife11

    Reply 2 months ago

    Ahh, yes, they are. Darn. Just another fact I forgot. I appreciate the refreshment course. Thank you. KJ

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    dsticha

    3 months ago

    Great article, I'll try that on smaller nests. I live in a wooded area and it's always cool and moist, so I have to kill about a dozen nests a year.

    For large nests I like the cup of gas method mentioned by hmonnier because it kills the entire nest at once. But sometimes I don't want the long lasting effect of petroleum poisoning in the soil, like if the nest is near an old tree.

    So I freeze the nest by soaking the entire area around the hole with a sprinkler all afternoon, pack ice over it as the sun starts going down, and cover it with a tarp to keep the cold in. Once the cold seeps down and cools the nest enough, the wasp's will go in to a torpid state and you can then go out and dig the entire nest up. The nests are wax honeycomb, just like a bee's nest, and if you locate the nest accurately enough (see below) you can pop the whole thing out of the ground in one movement by slipping a shovel under it and levering it up.

    To locate the exact boundary of a nest, I use a pole with a metal pick to probe the nest boundaries at night to see where exactly it is in relation to the hole. The spike will easily slide through the wax nest located just under the surface whereas it is harder to push through dirt. Once located, mark the boundaries and you know where to soak, where to pack ice, and where to dig.

    5 replies
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    realife11dsticha

    Reply 2 months ago

    With all due respect, if you are killing yellow jackets (or ‘wasps’), then more power to ya, but if you are killing bees, you should think twice on that since they are becoming endangered, our own survival depends on them, and they are extremely beneficial to crops, all kind of pollination,etc. If you need to get rid of them if they become a problem, then you can call any beekeeper and most will come for free and take them away for you. Easy-Peasy.

    PS...for those reading this thread, Yellow Jackets are not bees. They are wasps.

    just sayin’ because some people mistakenly think they are bees.

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    dsticharealife11

    Reply 2 months ago

    You are right, yellow jackets are wasps not bees! Thank you for pointing that out, I have edited my previous comment to use the term wasp instead. My bad.

    But please know that real bees that nest in the ground are usually bumble bees and not honey bees. I'm not sure if a beekeeper would be interested in bumble bees.

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    realife11dsticha

    Reply 2 months ago

    Good point, very true, beekeepers would not bother with bumbles, however on the upside, bumble bees are pretty docile and at the most would have a colony of 50 or less. I don’t think they would bother with humans though, they are more interested in getting that pollen, haha. They only become a nuisance when they start boring holes in your new wood gazebo to make a secluded nest. That happened to a relative, so they covered the holes with strips of copper which repelled and encouraged them to go “elsewhere”.

    Great tip on locating and popping out an inground yellow jacket nest.

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    realife11dsticha

    Reply 2 months ago

    Wow, well whaddaya know,they DO look a LOT like bumble bees!

    Thanks, I will pass this along to my relative. All this time they thought it was bumble bees. Very good to know, many thanks!

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    nworbekim

    3 months ago

    tha's a good idea. we have lots of yellow jacket nests on the farm and i've learned to NEVER EVER underestimate the population. i've used several methods of attack... i may try this too.

    4 replies
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    RohynnGnworbekim

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thank you. So far this has successfully worked to clear two nests (out of two attempts). And it's reusable!

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    nworbekimRohynnG

    Reply 3 months ago

    i have to find a water jug... one method i've used a couple of times is the old time fly strips like our grandparents used to have hanging from the ceilings in the house, down on the farm. the strips have just enough adhesive to stick to the yellowjackets. we had problems with them under one of the decks at our house and people had been stung, so i HAD to do something.

    i took 3 of the strips and laid them near the place i had seen them going in and stomped on the floor. they came out mad and a couple hit on the strips and stuck. that caused the others to come to their rescue and get stuck and more and more and more. pretty soon the 3 strips looked like ears of corn, there were so many yellowjackets stuck to them.

    i took wasp/hornet spray and doused them with it and the battle was over.

    DON'T EVER UNDERESTIMATE the number of yellowjackets in a nest. i've done two this way and both times it was scary how many there were. i'm quite sure if ever anyone was attacked by the full nest, it would be fatal.

    still looking for a water jug...

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    realife11nworbekim

    Reply 2 months ago

    great idea! Since the bottle trick would not work for a deck, this is a good one to remember!!

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    snowf7nworbekim

    Reply 3 months ago

    Water jugs are available at our local grocery stores for a reasonable price. They are meant to be taken back to the store to be refilled. Most grocery stores have a refilling station. Good luck.

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    demolishedman

    2 months ago

    Yellow Jackets is the American name for a species of Wasp native to North America. There are other species of Wasps in Europe. Please do not call them Bees, they are not Bees. Look up the difference between Wasps and Bees if you don't understand why killing "bees" is not to be encouraged.

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    realife11demolishedman

    Reply 2 months ago

    I think you misunderstood what he said.

    He said he “also” had a honey bee nest on the property that (because they are SO beneficial and endangered) he was leaving alone. As opposed to the jellow jackets that were dangerous and aggressive to have around. He DID make that distinction. He at no time ever called the yellow jackets “bees”.

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    jstevenson12demolishedman

    Reply 2 months ago

    First off, I don't see anywhere that the term bee was used instead of yellow jacket. Secondly when bees were mentioned they mentioned that they were not to be harmed.

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    TrudyD2

    3 months ago

    Please be very clear when posting and don’t confuse the issue by calling yellow jackets bees.