Homemade Yellow Jacket Wasp Trap

How to get rid of, and kill, yellow jacket wasps by the
1000's, each morning,
without dangerous chemicals & sprays.

--- Includes 24 Photos ---

Close-up of Dead Yellow Jacket Wasps

August 16, 2013 - Closeup of dead yellow jacket wasps, cleaned out from my homemade trap.

One year, I built 3 homemade wasp traps for getting rid of thousands of yellow jacket wasps each day. Actually, it's more like 1,500 - 3000 in a single morning.

Here on our farm and in our gardens, we usually let the yellow jacket wasps do their important duty of insect patrol.

However, in a year when they get so numerous and aggressive that they start stinging us, it's time to declare war.

This isn't the cheap plastic bottle trap that you cut, staple, bait, and hang up. No, we're talking about serious yellow jacket extermination and population reduction.

General view of my homemade wasp trap on the gravel in my driveway.

August 8, 2013 - General view of one of my homemade yellow jacket wasp traps, on the gravel in the driveway.

View of my homemade wasp trap from the other direction at the same time in the morning.

August 8, 2013 - Looking from the other direction at the same time in the morning.

These Yellow Jacket Wasp Traps Can Be Very Dangerous.

When they're in full operation, it looks and sounds like a bee hive.

So yes, a word of warning, read this whole article through first, use common sense, use your head, keep children away PERIOD, and YOU ASSUME ALL RISK.

Because a trap like this can attract and trap thousands of yellow jackets in a single morning, I RECOMMEND THAT A TRAP OF THIS SIZE ONLY BE USED BY THOSE LIVING IN THE COUNTRY ON ACREAGE, such as on a farm, in the mountains, or in the woods, where there is plenty of room between neighbors.

These traps work, because they are dangerous and deadly effective against the yellow jacket wasp!

Binoculars I use to watch my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap from a safe distance

August 11, 2013 - The binoculars I use to watch the yellow jacket wasp traps from a safe distance.

I use binoculars to count how many get trapped per minute, to help estimate the total. (Simply look at the top of the cone, and count how many crawl through and fly off from the hole in the top of the cone.

It's so neat to see what the yellow jacket wasps are doing - flying, carrying a load of bait, and crawling around in the cone before they finally decide to go through the hole - that sometimes my arms grow tired just holding my binoculars!

Keeping a Safe Distance

The bait and the activity around the trap can attract yellow jacket wasps by the thousands. They buzz all around the trap, so anywhere near the trap is dangerous.

The warmer the temperature, the angrier they can get.

One Sunday morning, I was watching through my binoculars, over 20 feet (6 meters) away. The temperature was 65 F (18 C). Some yellow jackets came and started a buzzing fury around me. The rest of the day I stayed over 30 feet (9 meters) away - and still a few will come. It could be that the lenses of the binocular look like eyes to them.

Sometimes, when I'm watching the trap work - often through my binoculars - and counting how many are being trapped each minute, I think of the massive amount of poison locked up inside the trap full of thousands of angry yellow jacket wasps.

If the yellow jacket wasps suddenly somehow accidentally got loose with people around, it could be disastrous!

So How Many Does it Catch?

Based on 1 and 2 minute counts at different times of day - using a digital kitchen timer while looking at the top of the cone through binoculars - my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap on a good day during the peak summer season averages 7 a minute.

7 x 60 minutes = 420 an hour. Rounding down to 400,

400 x 10 hours = 4000. We estimate 3000 a day consistently and as high as 6000 on a real good day.

Sometimes, you wait a while, and all of a sudden you see a whole string of yellow jacket wasps crawl through the cone top!


Yellow jacket wasps are good.

  • They eat many harmful insects.

  • They really can help keep many of your garden plants bug-free.

  • A single yellow jacket in it's seasonal lifetime can eat 100-10,000 insects. For example, as large as 100 grasshoppers, or as small as 10,000 aphids, or a mix or match of anything in between.

  • Yellow jacket wasps can help a bit in pollination

But some years, the yellow jacket wasps become so numerous, and can become very aggressive. Especially in hot weather. Especially when food and water is limited.

Most years, I let the yellow jacket wasps do their job.

But when I got stung one year on August 11th, then I declared war. I'm not their food!

The question is, How do you trap and kill thousands of them, without using chemicals, and without killing all the beneficial insects, such as honeybees, and particularly the bumblebees that help pollinate my tomatoes, raspberries, squash and more?

My solution was to build a large screened cone trap, and then make sure the bait - which I describe below - attracts the yellow jackets only, NOT the honey bees and bumblebees.

When You're Ready to make War on the Yellow Jacket Wasps

I'm writing this in August 2013, because it's a bad year again. Over a period of 3 or 4 weeks, I've already been stung 3 times, starting back in July - twice in the forest, and once near my driveway. Now they're so bad you can hardly work outside. So that's why I'm inside on a hot afternoon writing this, to help other gardeners or farmers who may run into a similar problem.

The nice thing is, I built these homemade yellow jacket wasp traps to last for years, and they will, if you keep them clean and store them properly.

So this year all I did was pull one of my traps out of my shed. It still was bad, so I pulled another one out. (The third one I gave to my dad that first year it was bad, so he could use it at his place, and this year he is again using it.)

In fact, in 2013, one of my farmer friends, who lives close by, came to take pictures of my yellow jacket wasp traps, and see how they worked, so he could go back home and build one. They were getting so bad at his place, that every time he went around with the hose to water his animals, the yellow jacket wasps were all around following him trying to get the water from the hose!

How Bad Can it Get?

I enjoy picking berries in our forest in July and August.

In the summer of 2013, about every other plant had a yellow jacket wasp looking for food. I saw a double hole with dirt built up in a mound on the ground, where about 5 yellow jacket wasps went in and came out per second. (A single nest can contain thousands of yellow jackets.) I removed many nests around my buildings, and they were quickly being rebuilt.

Some areas on the ground, such as on the driveway or in the areas I have mowed, I counted about 1 yellow jacket wasp for every square foot. And they were up from well before sunrise to way after sunset - which is not the normal around here.

And day by day, they were starting to fly right up to me and buzzing all around me.

So 2013 was another year of unusual war - at least for a few months in the summer before the cooler fall weather came.

Who Designed These Homemade Yellow Jacket Wasp Traps?

Frankly, I'm not the original designer of these traps. I simply remembered something that happened 30 years earlier, and then made my own design and built and tested it.

I remember back to my college days. I was staying at school during the summer, and some of us would go to local orchards to pick fruit - such as peaches, cherries, and nectarines - which the farmers would give us, maybe because they couldn't find pickers, or the fruit was slightly damaged, or over-ripe.

Back at the college kitchen, other helpers would process the fruit. It was stacked up in boxes outside and inside the kitchen. One year, it attracted yellow jacket wasps by the thousands.

Some farmer must have lent the big trap I saw. Being scientific-minded, I was so fascinated seeing how it worked. As best I remember, the wood was old and gray, the screen was bent from years of use, and the bait was rotting peaches or nectarines.

So whoever originally designed this trap - no doubt many years ago - thank you very much!

Location, Location, Location

Where you set up your homemade yellow jacket wasp trap is very important.

  • Safety comes first.

  • You don't want to set it up anywhere near where you or others will be working or passing, such as mowing the lawn, driving your car, etc.

  • Don't be afraid to move your traps every day or every couple days, until you find a good spot that works.

  • Sometimes, it works better in semi-shade. That way the bait doesn't dry out too fast. Sometimes it works well in full sun.

  • Sometimes it works on top of something a foot or 2 or 3 high, such as a sturdy barrel

Remember also, if you've had the trap in a location for some time, you can still end up end up with angry yellow jacket wasps - and hornets - in the area for a good while after.

My 1st homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with rubber trash can lid rain cover located on the gravel driveway

August 10, 2013 - This location worked for many days.

A Good Location in 2013

In the summer of 2013, the yellow jackets were hugging close to the ground everywhere.

It could be that the ground was cooler than the hot air.

One of my best locations that year was a weed free spot right on my gravel driveway.

If you have pets - I don't - you may have to put it higher, or put a sturdy wire screen around the bottom, that has large enough gaps to let the yellow jacket wasps through, but not cat paws.

My dad has cats, and they'd go and steal the bait, even in the thick of the yellow jackets. (The yellow jackets actually eat their dry cat food.)

The trash lid you see in the photo, with the rock on top of it, kept the trap dry from a rain storm the previous night.

Closeup look at my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with bait and entry cone.

August 8, 2013 - Closeup look at one of my homemade yellow jacket trap with entry cone and bait below

How my Homemade Yellow Jacket Wasp Traps Work

The yellow jacket wasps smell the bait, and come to get it. Once they're inside, they'll eat some and/or try to take it back. When they start to fly back, they usually tend to go up. They keep flying up and around the cone, until they crawl out of the hole at the top.

Once inside, they keep flying, and then crawl around,trying to get out through the outside screen.  The yellow jacket wasps usually die, and fall to the bottom of the trap within a few hours without food, especially in the hot sun.

Now some of the yellow jacket wasps end up going back out, and taking some of the food back to the nest.

This is a good thing, because they bring the message back to the others. Maybe the message is simply watching the lucky escapee bring back the food, and then following it on the next food run.

However, you don't want to have the dish of bait too low under the trap, else too many yellow jacket wasps leave with your bait. It may take a bit of experimentation to get it just right, and it can keep changing, as the yellow jacket wasps wise up to what's going on. Here's some examples:

  • You can put a block of wood under the dish to raise it higher.

  • You also want a dish, preferably glass, that they can readily see the bait and all the activity from the entrances underneath the trap.

  • The dish should be deep and big enough, so that the bait only partially fills the dish. You want the sides of the dish higher than the bait, so that they just don't take off horizontally, but they are forced to go upwards first.

  •  The dish should be wide enough, and centered, that it covers much of the area under the cone. I've seen yellow jackets flying in the cone with a load, get tired and drop a bit downwards in the air. You don't want them dropping outside the dish, under the trap, and finding their way out.

Types of Bait for the Homemade Yellow Jacket Wasp Trap

Many types of bait will work. A can of tuna fish. Fish or fish scraps, cooked, raw, or thawing from frozen.

I try to never use rotten fruit, sugar, or anything similar, as I do not want to attract honeybees or bumblebees or other kinds of friendly pollinators.

However, rotten fruit might work, if there are enough yellow jackets, which could keep the others away. You would have to test and tweak.

I just don't think it's worth taking a chance in the first place.

Plastic bowl partially filled with chicken liver bait, and frozen beef blood

August 11, 2013 - Styrofoam dish partially filled with thawed chicken livers and frozen beef blood

The Best Yellow Jacket Wasp Bait

Liver is one of the best ways to attract only the yellow jackets.

In 2013, I bought small packets of frozen beef liver, which I then put out in the morning. Frozen or already thawed, really doesn't matter, because they smell it right away and it will warm up quickly.

Then a friend came by and said chicken liver works better.

And he's right. So far, I've discovered  that chicken liver is the best.

The first time I used chicken liver (August 2013) I put about 10 ozs (283 grams) of chicken liver in a glass dish, and by the next morning, the entire dish was cleaned out!

I now get containers of 20 oz (1.25 pounds / 567 grams) of frozen chicken liver marked down to $1.09 apiece, and use about 1/3 of it (6-7 ounces / 189 grams) per day per trap, and sometimes add beef blood or fish liquid.

If you think that's expensive, it's a lot cheaper than a $5.00 can of hornet and wasp spray, and it can catch many times more yellow jacket wasps than a can of spray will usually do.

When I find the bait dish empty when I clean the trap the next morning, I simply add more bait than the day before, and usually catch many more yellow jacket wasps that day.

Sometimes I throw in a slice of frozen beef liver on top, so they really have to craw under to get the chicken liver. Even then, by the next morning the dish will often be cleaned out.

One thing to consider - the bait will often dry hard like jerky in a few days, not only from the hot sun, but from the wind that comes from the beating of all those yellow jacket wasps' wings!

So leave plenty of blood or juice with the bait.

As I explain below, I refresh - or more often, simply add to - the bait in the glass bowl underneath the trap almost daily, so that it won't get too dry and hard.

Update on the Best Bait for the Yellow Jacket Trap:

My chicken liver bait kept disappearing by the end of the day. The dish was completely empty by the time I changed it. All that was left were little bits and stains all over the sides and bottom inside the dish,

          where their little feet had pattered,

          and the bait in their mouth had spattered.

It was too easy for the yellow jacket wasps to take chunks of it away, since chicken liver is softer and easier for them to tear in pieces.

Glass dish partially filled with three types of bait for the yellow jacket wasp trap.

August 18, 2013 - A Bowl of my Newer Yellow Jacket Trap Bait.

The 2 areas of the trap the yellow jacket wasps are most reluctant to pass are (1) coming under the bottom of the trap and (2) going through the small hole at the top of the screened cone.

I prefer a glass dish for the bait, so that yellow jacket wasps taking a look from the side can see all the activity and the bait.

I scrub the dish clean about 2 or 3x a week. When I do, glass is easier to soak, scrub, and get clean.

Mixed Bait
for the Yellow Jacket Wasp Traps

Here's what seemed to work a whole lot better keeping the yellow jackets coming all day:

  1. I put chicken livers on the bottom;

  2. I put the tougher beef liver in the middle on the top, to make them work harder to get the chicken liver;

  3. Then I added a chunk of hamburger (seen in the lower right of the dish in the photo on the left).

The result was more activity all day long, and more yellow jacket wasps trapped.

And usually the only bait left is the remnants of tough dried hamburger, which has enough smell to keep attracting them for a short while, when the rest of the bait runs out.

One Day's Catch of Yellow Jacket Wasps on Newer Bait Mix
Close-up of One Days Catch of Yellow Jacket Wasps on Newer Bait Mix

August 20, 2013 - Photos showing the off-duty trap after a day with the new bait. There is a layer of dead wasps about 2 inches (5 cm) deep.

A good day averages about an inch (2.5 cm) a day, which is about 3/4 gallon (2.8 liters).

Nature is unpredictable. Increased numbers in the trap could be a wave of new yellow jacket wasp larvae hatching and coming on the the scene. Weather, such as wind, wind direction, and temperature, and lack of other food and moisture - all are significant factors.

But it does seem the trap, using the new bait mix, is catching more yellow jacket wasps later into the day.

You can also see in the above photos that in the off-duty day of the trap, there are still a good number of live yellow jacket wasps.

Now, let's take a look at an active-duty homemade yellow jacket wasp trap on the new bait mix:

My active duty homemade yellow jacket wasp trap in full roar just before noon on the newer bait mix. This is the cropped version from the original.

August 20, 2013 - This trap is in a full roar!

My active duty homemade yellow jacket wasp trap in full roar just before noon on the newer bait mix. This is the original photo before cropping.

Just before noon on Tuesday, August 20th, I zoomed in my camera as far as it would go.

I came as close as I could, and got in only this one snapshot, before some yellow jacket wasps came storming after me.

(You can't see the oodles of yellow jackets all around the trap close to the ground, waiting their chance to get into the overcrowded bait dish to steal some food!)

Luckily, I didn't get stung, but I had to run in zigzags and duck and twirl around while heading for the house and slamming the front screen door shut behind me!

And I still had to crop the photo above.

The original - as close as I could get and zoom in - is here on the left.

Another Enemy in the Mix Means Trouble

You may also attract another enemy, who will come to fight against you and the yellow jacket wasps.

It is the bald-faced hornet. In my case, there are usually 1, or 2, or more, bald-faced hornets flying around the trap.

The bald faced hornet will catch and eat the yellow jacket wasps.

Which should be a good thing, except ... this can become a problem.

If you don't have  a large enough entrance where the yellow jackets can come in from all directions, the bald faced hornets can keep the yellow jackets from getting the bait and going into your trap.

Sometimes, I've had to swat one or 2 with a fly swatter, but it is hard to swat one, and of course, it is very dangerous, as they'll often try to get you, once they get swatted at - or even see your shadow - or the change in the amount of light - as you come closer.

So far, I've not been stung by a bald-faced hornet, but many old timers say you don't want to get stung by them, because it can be more painful, and the same hornet can sting repeatedly.

My 1st homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with rubber trash can lid and stone on top for a rain cover protection.

August 10, 2013 - Plastic garbage lid kept my trap dry through a storm in the night.

My 2nd homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with rubber cement mixing tray and stone on top for a rain cover protection.

August 10, 2013 - A mortar mixing tray served well. You can see rain water on the top.

Protect your Trap in the Rain

When it rains, I simply put a plastic garbage lid on top of the trap, and put a heavy stone on it, so it doesn't blow off in the wind.

There are several reasons for this:

  • You don't want the water to turn the dead yellow jacket wasps into muck. The smell will drive other yellow jacket wasps away.

  • You don't want your screws to rust and your wood to decay.

Getting Rid of the Yellow Jacket Wasps After You Trap Them

One tricky operation, that should be done every day, or at the least, every other day, is to empty the trap. On a good trapping day, the bottom of the trap will have an inch or 2 of dead yellow jacket wasps - and sometimes more.

If you leave the dead yellow jacket wasps in the trap, eventually it turns away many other yellow jackets. Like most animals in nature, when the yellow jacket wasps smell the death of their kind, it tells them beware. Besides, it can smell pretty awful, especially after a rain, or with humidity. Their dead bodies can quickly mold and decay there, making it harder to clean out the trap.

Most yellow jacket wasps probably don't care, when they're starving, about their dead neighbors, they can be so greedy and selfish anyways. But if you've ever seen how effective your trap is after you've reset it - cleaning it, changing the bait, etc - you might be surprised at the big difference in the numbers of the "enemies" you end up trapping.

A Word of WARNING:

Whenever you are emptying, cleaning, or baiting the trap, and there are still live yellow jackets, either flying or ready to fly, (which you often can't tell), either inside the trap and outside, then please pay very close attention to the following:




A single misstep, a single thing you forget to do, can have VERY BAD consequences.

One of my homemade yellow jacket wasp traps with a cleanup bucket for dead yellow jacket wasps.

August 11, 2013 - This yellow jacket wasp trap is ready to be cleaned, by shaking the contents into the white bucket on the right.

In a real busy time, I operate 2 of my homemade yellow jacket traps at once.

One I clean, and start with fresh bait.

The other I put on this stand in an area that gets sun most of the day, to let the surviving yellow jacket wasps all die off.

Then the next day, early in the morning, I clean out the trap on the stand.

I turn the trap over, put the top hole over the bucket, and shake the contents out.

If necessary, I use a flat long stick to clean out the dead yellow jackets stuck on the sides and the bottom

A white 4 gallon bucket, almost filled with dead yellow jacket wasps, sitting in a field of red clover.

August 20, 2013
- After sitting a couple days, we can finally take a quick look at the bucket.

This bucket holds 4 gallons (15 liters) to the top.

In the bucket there are about 3.5 gallons (13.25 liters) of dead yellow jacket wasps.

This is about 5-6 days worth, with 1 of the 2 traps operating daily, and the other one sitting on a stand with no bait (to make sure all the contents are dead), and then rotating them every night when cleaning and re-baiting.

I never fill the buckets to the top, because you want plenty of room to dump in the next day's catch.

Two white 4 gallon buckets, one almost filled with dead yellow jacket wasps, and the other covered with a rock on top, sitting in a field of red clover.

August 20, 2013 - Each bucket holds 4 gallons (15 liters) apiece.

If there isn't enough room in 1 bucket to dump all the contents in, start a new bucket, as I did with the bucket on the left.

The lid on the left is closed, since I had just dumped the contents of the off-duty trap, the night before.

You want your dumping to be as quick and clean a pour as possible, leaving no chances of escape for any that may have survived.

Some of the Things I do When I Empty and Clean Out My Yellow Jacket Trap.

Early in the morning, when most of the yellow jacket wasps in the trap are dead - or it's colder, and most of them are not moving much - I dig a hole in a compost or mulch pile with a shovel.

I wear good gloves. (I always wear long sleeve shirts, so that protects me a bit on the arms. Also long pants, good socks and shoes, and even a jacket especially if my shirt is a bit thin.)

The first thing is, I say a prayer for safety. Then I remove the old bait, if any is left. I put it in a plastic bag, and put it in the freezer, for the next time I bury fish scraps by a tree in the orchard.

I wash the glass dish out, and re-bait it in the house, but keep it in the refrigerator, so that the yellow jackets won't smell it until I run it outside under the freshly cleaned trap LATER.

If I used a styrofoam bowl for the old bait, then I make sure it's put in a good sealed plastic bag before throwing it out in the trash outside, or else my trash can will attract the yellow jackets. I just never would throw something like this away in the trash inside the house. Even a little residue left on the side of the bowl can attract a swarm of angry yellow jackets.

You don't want yellow jackets smelling the old bait and coming at you while you empty the trap, that's why you must get the old bait completely taken care of FIRST.

When It's Time to Empty the Yellow Jacket Wasp Trap

Okay, now I pray again, for safety in cleaning the trap.

I turn the trap over the hole I dug, then open the top (now towards the bottom), and pour the dead yellow jackets in. If necessary, I use a thin wide piece of wood to scrape the ones stuck on the side or bottom. Then I quickly shovel the hole closed

Use great care, not to accidentally tear the screen, either with the board, or some rock or twig on the ground, or a nearby bush, fence, or whatever.

An alternative to digging a hole every morning, - especially when I'm running 2 traps - is to use a container with a sealed lid to collect several days worth.

If many of the wasps are not dead, I shake the trap hole directly over a 4 gallon plastic bucket, and then quickly seal the bucket with a lid. Of course, you have to plan all this carefully, and have it all ready to go.

If done properly, many live yellow jacket wasps will stay in the trap, because they will fly back up towards the light and try to get out through the screen, instead of going through the hole at the bottom of the over-turned trap.

Some live ones may end up in the bucket, which I then leave in the sun for a day or 2 - with the lid snapped tightly on and / or a fairly heavy rock on top - before carefully opening and emptying.

You may need  to rotate several buckets with sealed lids if you're trapping a lot every day.

How to Get Rid of the Dead Yellow Jacket Wasps

Whether I shake them directly from the trap, or collect them in bucket, I usually bury the dead yellow jacket wasps in a hole in one of my compost piles, or in the orchard. That way they'll become good fertilizer!

You do not want to leave them around, because other yellow jackets will scavenge them to eat or feed their babies, and so their army will grow larger, which defeats the purpose of trapping them in the first place.

White 4 gallon yellow jacket cleanup bucket, covered with a lid and a rock, sitting in a field of clover.

R  I  P

To the Yellow Jacket Wasps

- - - - - - -

You'll sting no more.

Your life is over.

You're in the bucket

In a field of clover.

- - - - - - -

Photo - August 11, 2013

Next Step

Okay, once your trap is clean, MAKE SHURE, SHURE, SHURE, that you close, LOCK or LATCH the TRAP DOOR SECURELY.

You simply DON'T want to pick up a loaded trap that is, or becomes, unlatched.

The way mine is built, if one latch is loose, the door can finagle open. And the latches I use can vibrate loose.

I've picked up a trap when the door was not latched. What a scary feeling! Luckily - so far - it was not filled with a mob of angry yellow jacket wasps!

Almost Finished

A few more things, and we're done.

Now that it's empty, we're going to set it back in place.

(Or clean it, to put it away in storage. Further down this page I have some photos of a final cleaning for the season, before putting it in storage.)

If using it again, I may select a new location somewhere on the farm where there is a particular problem, especially where the yellow jackets could interfere with humans, such as near the gardens and in the orchard.

I may also move it away from an area in which I'll need to work soon, such as mowing the grass nearby. It's best to do this at least a day or 2 before you work in that area.

The pyrex clear glass dish I use for yellow jacket wasp trap bait, partially filled with frozen liver and beef blood at the time of this photo.

August 14, 2013 - Pyrex Glass Dish with Frozen Chicken Livers.

The red cubes in the lower part of the picture is frozen beef blood.

Usually I like it thawed, but if I forget to take it out to thaw the night before, no worry.

The yellow jackets still smell it, and with the day warming up and the beating of their wings, it will thaw in very little time.

A Very Tricky Job - Changing Bait

If I need to clean the glass bowl - which I do every once in a while - I'll get it from under the operating trap. Obviously, anytime I'm near the trap and especially handling bait, I wear a good pair of nursery gloves with rubber coating.

I use, if necessary, a long curved tree branch to drag the dish, on the ground, around and away from the swarm of yellow jacket wasps - which shouldn't be too bad if you do it early enough in the morning, and it's cool enough.

In the house, I'll scrub it clean and put new bait in it.

Otherwise, I just use 2 styrofoam bowls stacked together (for strength, fill it partially with the bait, and will pour in into the glass bowl with one hand, while picking up the trap with the other hand - as described below.

When I go back outside, I make sure I have gloves on, grab the glass bowl with fresh bait, say a prayer, and go outside and quickly and carefully set it up under the trap.

Or, I pour the bait from the styrofoam bowl in my hand into the glass bowl already under the trap.

I have it down to a routine where I pick up the trap in my right hand and have the bowl in my left hand.

When it's done, I get out of there quickly, saying a PRAYER of THANKS for SAFETY!

Update on the Time for Changing the Bait

At the worst of the season, when the yellow jacket population peaked, I found it difficult to change the bait - and clean out the off duty trap and put it back on duty -  early in the morning. The yellow jackets simply became too numerous and aggressive.

I found it much better to do it after dark with a flashlight. And of course, good thick gloves. (I use new nursery gloves, where the rubber is not broken.)

The next morning, at the usual time I would have changed change the bait, the trap was already busy filling up. And the yellow jackets were the larger ones. It might be the scouts that go out early in the morning.

By not having to renew the traps in the morning, you might also get to sleep in - like on weekends - without too much worry.

You still have to be very careful.

One night, coming back into the house, I found a yellow jacket on my pant leg. Another night, I felt something crawl above my sock underneath my pants, and I caught it just in time before getting stung.

Another time I left some old dried hamburger bait that was left in the dish by the yellow jackets from the previous day, on a board outside the house, planning to put it back in the bait dish when I cleaned the dish and re-baited it. I forgot about the old hamburger, because I couldn't see it in the dark.

I had lots of yellow jackets just outside my door the next morning, until I figured out my mistake.

O-O-O-P-S !!!

Materials and Dimensions of my Homemade Yellow Jacket Wasp Trap

The trap is 14" (36 cm) square, and about 26-27 inches (66-69 cm) tall overall.

The 4 corners are 2x2's lumber. The short bottom legs are 4x4 treated lumber.

Use a good metal screen, not a flimsy plastic one - else they can chew their way out. All day long they're trying to get out, flying into the screen over and over.

Also, I recommend a black coated screen, not a shiny one. I made my first trap with shiny silver colored screen, and it's harder to see what's going on inside, even when using binoculars from a distance.

I recommend you use screws, not nails. You don't want the trap to fall apart easily.

I used a staple gun to fasten the screen to the wood, as I explain below.

I have a circular top door. It's a bit harder to clean out, but it works over a bucket with some doing. You may want to make the whole top a hinged door for easier cleanup.

A look from 1 angle at the top of my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with wooden plywood lid and metal hardware.

August 9, 2013 - Looking at the top of the trap and the hardware on the circular door.

A look from another angle at the top of my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap with wooden plywood lid and metal hardware.

August 9, 2013 - Looking at the top of the trap from another direction from the side.

Note the screws in the plywood, instead of nails.

The bottom is similar, but with 4 leg stands, and no door and hardware, but only a screen cone where the hole is.

You may not want a circular door in the middle of the top.  It is a bit of work cleaning the trap.

With the trap upside down, and the circular door open, it fits over a bucket to empty the contents. It takes me a bit of shaking in various directions to do the job.

You might consider making the entire lid a door, being hinged on one side and being securely latched on the other.

The cardboard template for my homemade yellow jacket wasp trap, with a yardstick to show size.

August 10, 2013 - Cardboard template for the cone. The yardstick (36 inches / 91 cm)) gives you an idea of the size of screen needed for the cone.

Building the Cone

I have a hole in the plywood at the bottom of the trap.

Making the screen wire cone to fit it, and making the cone in the first place, required a bit of figuring out.

I used several smaller sheets of paper to help me figure out how to make the cone. I recommend you do the same.

You'll need some overlap both up the side of the cone, and some to go down inside the hole in the bottom and on the bottom of the plywood underneath, so that you can staple it.

Regarding the screen cone in the center of the yellow jacket trap, it would be nice if someone, with tweaking and testing, could figure out:

  • the perfect angle of the cone,

  • the best height of the cone,

  • and the best size to make the hole at the top of the cone,

to catch the most yellow jacket wasps. Suffice it to say, my trap does pretty darn good getting the job done.

The Wire Screen for the Yellow Jacket Wasp Trap

I used a regular desk stapler to staple the overlap strip up the side of the cone, then bent it down flat to one side. The less jagged edges you leave, the better, as the yellow jacket wasps will sometimes get caught on edges of the screen wire, making cleaning the trap more difficult.

I used a staple gun to attach the outside screen to everything else, including a close row up the sides of the 4 wooden edge posts, across the top edge, and on the very bottom. On the bottom, I bent the wire overlap of about an inch, in the space between the legs, to attach it with staples to the very bottom of the plywood.

I then screwed the 1x4 spacers, onto the plywood, which trimmed and covered both the overlap of the screen for the side, as well as the overlap from the bottom of the cone.

It's best to put a close row of staples on the 2 sides of each post with screen on it, because - as I found out - if you don't, the yellow jacket wasps will work their way in between the post and screen that is not stapled, and it's hard to clean them out.

Cleaning and Scrubbing Your Yellow Jacket Trap
at the End of the Season Before Putting it into Storage

September 21, 2013 - Scrubbing the yellow jacket traps inside and out.

Scrubbing, rinsing, and drying 2 awkward crates, inside and out, outside in the cold isn't a very appealing job ...

     .... especially when they're so dirty and smelly with dead bugs and bug parts sticking everywhere.

Don't just think about it, dread it, and putting it off. Don't let it keep bugging you!

Let's just do it and get it done.

But Let's do it Right

First, I use the garden hose with a good spray nozzle. It helps break up any dead bugs, especially those caught in the screen edges, and the seams of the inside cone. I get everything soaking wet.

Next, I'm generous with the soapy water - using a natural biodegradable soap - to soak all the dried junk. I use a brush with long soft bristles brush to gently scrub. The long bristles help to reach into the corners on the inside, as well as clean the screens.

Don't rush. You want to go easy on the screens. It's very easy to bend them of shape, or puncture them.

If after rinsing they're still dirty, it's better to soak the traps again in soapy water awhile.

To rinse, I again use a hose and spray nozzle.

Then I let them air out and thorughly dry before putting them back in storage.

September 21, 2013 - Semper Paratus. The yellow jacket traps are all shiny and ready for storage. 

"Semper Paratus" is Latin for "always ready" or "always prepared". It's also a motto of the United States Coast Guard.

Doing a little work now, upfront, can save you a lot of work later. Just to replace one of these traps is a lot of time, work, and expense, so let's keep them in as good a condition for as long as wepossibly can!

Don't wait for the next season you need your traps, to finally clean them, else:

  • they'll be dirty in storage;

  • the wood will stain more and deteriorate faster;

  • the hardware will rust.

  • the odds are, you'll need them during a really busy season.

I'm glad I scrubbed these 2 when I did, because in November, I attended classes on beekeeping.

Several beekeepers told us that yellow jacket wasps were a big problem this year (2013) in our area for those keeping bees. Many of them lost weak hives to invading yellow jacket wasps, who killed the honeybees in order to steal their honey.

The beekeepers are letting me bring these traps to show them in class.

I'm so glad they're ready to go. You never know when you might need them next!

It brings a lot of peace of mind to the gardener and/or farmer, when you can mentally cross off a job as well done and completely finished!

Storing Your Yellow Jacket Wasp Traps

A good homemade yellow jacket wasp trap should last for years.

Keep it dry and store it carefully.

It is very easy for the screens to tear if not stored properly, or stored with a lot of other things.

I store my traps in a kind of attic in the shed with my tires. They are extremely handy when the wasps have been gathering their troops silently for months and years, and all of a sudden, in one fine year, on one fine day, they decide to declare war.

I simply get a small step ladder, and reach them down, and put my war machines - my traps - back to work.

Some Weird, Odd, and Unusual Stuff about My Homemade Yellow Jacket Traps.

This is a bit off subject, but if you're interested ...

In years I don't have a yellow jacket problem, I've used these same traps to attract many gallons of flies. One year I caught around 20-30 gallons of flies. I know, because at night or early morning, I'd dump the contents of the trap into plastic buckets, and seal the lids for a couple days, leaving them in the sun, until every last victim was dead. I filled many 4 gallon buckets, and they made good protein compost for the garden - except when the chickens gobbled them up.

(However, chickens don't like dead yellow jacket wasps. Grasshoppers are another story. They'd fight like the dickens, them chickens, when I'd catch a bunch of grasshoppers for them with a net.)

But the more yellow jackets are around, the less flies you'll see, because yellow jackets catch and eat flies.

Some Final Thoughts

You might ask, why would I take such risks and go to so much trouble to trap the yellow jacket wasps?

Normally, I'm happy to let nature be.

But, there's exceptions, like noxious weeds.

Sometimes you just have to get rid of certain noxious weeds like thistles and bindweed to prevent even greater damage. If you don't catch the weeds soon enough, they'll go to seed and give you an even bigger headache, because the weeds won't just grow by added numbers, they'll multiply by leaps and bounds.

There just comes a time when the risk of building, baiting, and cleaning my yellow jacket wasp trap is a whole lot less painful than getting stung over and over.

By the way, when I was a child, I used to have a terrible reaction to yellow jacket wasp stings, even wearing a sling on my arm for 2 -3 weeks as my hand and arm puffed up bigger than you can believe.

Nowadays, with the natural medicine I take, the swelling can still last for 2 - 3 days.

It's just not worth it, especially if the yellow jacket wasps are holding up work in my garden and on my farm,

  • not only because they're being aggressive around everything I do - for example, when cutting rhubarb early in the morning, they came in droves attracted by the moisture

  • but especially when I'm hobbling around with one or more of their lovely kisses.

OUCH, and no thank you !!!

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