What should you do about yellowjackets & hornets? Nothing

yellowjacket
Yellowjacket. Photo courtesy Jon Yuschock, Bugwood.org

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Yellowjackets and hornets have been very active lately, and if they sting, it can hurt.

“But if you can avoid them for another month, nature will take care of them,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County.

Both yellowjackets and hornets will die off in the cold weather, he said.

The yellowjackets make their home in the ground and hornets make their nest high in a tree. Neither will use the same nest the following year, so you don’t even have to knock the hornets’ nest down.

He discourages people from using pesticides.

“As bad as they are with stinging, they’re still beneficial insects,” he said. “They feed on the larvae of insects that we don’t want around.”

Some people have called Farfaglia wanting to know if they can burn yellowjackets out of the ground, but that’s a bad idea for so many reasons. If you use gasoline, you could contaminate the ground. If the nest is near your house, you have a fire hazard.

If you have yellowjackets or hornets at the entrance to your home or in a wall or ceiling, contact a professional exterminator.

“It’s not a do-it-yourself job,” Farfaglia said.

But if the yellowjackets or hornets are in a spot where you can generally avoid them, just leave them alone. They won’t survive the winter.

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6 Comments on “What should you do about yellowjackets & hornets? Nothing

  1. My husband ran into an under ground nest, panic, got stung, ran, brought several into the house, not good. He will not be pulling anything for a while. Needless to say don’t touch if you do not know what you are doing, sometimes it is better to let nature take its course, I can laugh about it now, but it was not funny at the time. (He cannot laugh about it, he got stung 5 times.)

  2. Barb, I’m sorry to hear that! I bet it hurt. Yes, you can avoid yellowjackets when you know where they are. But it’s tough when you get surprised.

  3. We had a nest of baby birds on our porch and when we returned from vacation our house sitter told us they were killed by hornets. Is this possible?

  4. I talked to John Farfaglia from Cornell Cooperative Extension who said it’s not common, it’s not likely, but it’s possible. He looked it up and found some reports of hornets stinging hummingbirds. If these were baby birds, they were small and defenseless. While he has never heard of it happening, he can’t totally rule it out.

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