Tips for Controlling Yellow Jackets without Chemicals

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Sitting in my backyard the other day, a curious yellow jacket flew onto my hand. Two things came to mind: (1) that fall is just around the corner, and  (2) that outdoor dining will become challenging.

Yellow Jackets this time of the year can appear to be quite aggressive. However, they and other summertime insects are important pollinators and are just searching for food to store up for the soon to be upon us, winter!! 

This presents many challenges when trying to enjoy the outdoor barbecue season which is still very much in play.

After 30 years of pest management experience, I understand that “spraying” will not do anything to control yellow jackets or other summertime insects.

After 30 years of pest management experience, I understand that “spraying” will not do anything to control yellow jackets (unless of course there is a nest) in your backyard or your outdoor dining area wherever that may be.

Below are some helpful do it yourself tips that may make your outdoor dining experience more enjoyable during the late summer and fall season. Also remember that as your barbecue continues into the evening there are other challenges involved with insects since decorative lighting and cell phone screens attract bugs of all kinds in a big way at night. 

Non-Chemical Control

  • yellow jacket wasp feeding on flower pollenCool LED lights (basic incandescent ones) are less attractive to night flying insects. Also the more traditional yellow bug lights can be very helpful, although they’re not as attractive asthetically.

  • Shut off the lights inside your house to minimize night flying insects from flying into your backyard.

  • Keep all trash away from dining area.

  • Use oscillating fans (mounted or stand up). Not only does this cool the area, but more importantly, it also as makes it difficult for insects to battle.

  • New citronella oil has cedar mixed in which works well in tiki torches placed around the area. You can even buy decorative citronella lanterns for tables. Avoid the smokeless citronella. You'll still get that cool fire-lit ambiance and bugs hate smoke.

  • There are also a variety of trapping devices on the market that can be very helpful in trapping flies and yellow jackets. Some of the better ones are “pre-baited“ so there’s nothing to add or touch, and I have found some of them to be very good at attracting flies. Trapping yellow jackets can be a little bit more tricky because they’re  more finicky when it comes to food choice. Experimenting with various types of baits and traps (Victor makes a good one) will increase your chances for success. Remember to change the baits periodically because they can begin to smell!

Please feel free to visit our website at for more information on pests or to learn more about our services, or call us at (617) 332-3344.

Topics: summer, prevention, fall, featured, yellow jackets, insects, outdoors, chemical-free

Dan Fleischer

Written by Dan Fleischer

Dan is a third-generation pest control expert with a passion for solving problems and putting customers first. He has been featured in several publications and on television, including providing his termite knowledge on an episode of the show This Old House.