Above is an aerial yellowjacket nest, and below is my favorite kind of yellowjacket trap. The plastic part can be saved and reused year-to-year, and the lure inside can be purchased anew at the beginning of wasp season.
They are safe for the environment because the lure is not a poison or insecticide–it is just a compound that mimics a pheromone that yellowjackets are attracted to. Once inside the one-way trap, the yellowjackets cannot find their way back out. They eventually die of dehydration.
The lures last about ten weeks and attract twelve different species of yellowjacket (Vespula). The pheromone is quite genus-specific; in several years of using the traps I have never seen a bee end up in one.
I usually hang the traps in the trees away from the bee hives about mid-August or whenever I notice the yellowjacket population increasing. The ten-week lure takes me into mid- or late October and by that time the first freeze has occurred. A good freeze takes care of any remaining yellowjacket adults, so you are then free of them until the next fall.
Since I began using the traps I haven’t lost any hives to yellowjackets. The year before I bought the traps I lost three hives to yellowjackets, one here and two at an out-apiary . . . and it was a gruesome sight. Since then, I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of trapping the wretched little bee-eating monsters.
I have yet to find a good use for a live yellowjacket, so dead works for me.
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