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Figs and Yellow Jackets
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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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1
September 20, 2018 - 4:44 pm

This year, I lost almost my entire breba crop to yellow jackets.  When the figs start to ripen, the yellow jackets tunnel into them and eat them from the insides out, leaving almost nothing.  They ate dozens of ripe figs.  I got, maybe, 3.  Plus they sting without apparent provocation.

I found one of the nests inside a wall.  That needed an exterminator - big $$$.  There are still some, nest somewhere else.  I hung multiple lots of traps in the fig trees - lots more $$$ and their numbers seem to be declining.  I trapped hundreds of them.  Still, I expect more as the main crops ripen.  I tried the soda bottle method, but (a) it didnt work and (b) we dont drink soda, so I had to find one in the park.

Is there a bait they carry back to their nest, like some ant baits?  I might have some footies, if I can find them.  Would that work?

yelloe jackets inside fig

yellow jacket inside fig

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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2
September 20, 2018 - 7:27 pm

We tried the one I saw as a kid.  You hang a fish head or chicken organs (undesired meat) over a wide tub of water. Put a couple of drops of dishwasher soap in it so there is less surface tension.  The yellow jackets eat so much they get fat and can't fly.  They drown in the water.  I did this a few years ago and it worked. I have read that yellow jackets move each winter also.

John S
PDX OR

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davem
312 Posts
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3
September 21, 2018 - 1:35 pm

I also tried the trap that John described for the first time this year, it works quite well. But it won't kill every single yellowjacket. 

On the flip side, I have seen yellowjackets carry off tent caterpillars this time of year. I presume that they are after all kinds of caterpillars, including fruit pests.

I need to keep watching them to see if I can encourage them to eat my bugs but not my fruit.

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Viron
1400 Posts
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4
September 23, 2018 - 7:48 am

A long time fig grower in Yamhill County OR harvested her figs every morning.  I’d suggest picking them prior to the point the yellowjackets dig in. I had 7 fig trees and it wasn’t until near the end of their season that the Yellowjackets & Hornets got aggressive.  If I harvested prior to them ‘scratching the surface,’ or very soon thereafter, I’d get all I wanted.

Eradicating either of those species is impossible, and unwise; they’re magnificent predators ..when not seeking a sugar fix Confused

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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5
September 28, 2018 - 6:50 pm

I am not having a problem with them at 200 feet in Portland.  Desert King ripens for me in July and they're almost all done in August.  Yellowjackets tend to become a big problem in August, as I recall.
John S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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6
September 28, 2018 - 7:54 pm

Thanks for all of the helpful suggestions.  John your idea sounds great.

With all of the traps I have out, or maybe just fall coming, the yellow jacket population is reduced enough that I am getting some late crop figs now. There is some yellow jacket damage and fig loss, but down to maybe 25%

Im not wanting to eradicate all yellow jackets but there were thousands in my garage wall, and like I said, they destroyed almost every fig this summer.  I have never seen anything like it.  I had multiple stings.  Worse, my puppy was stung.  I worried about anyone with potential sting allergy being at or near my house.  This wasn't normal.  Home Depot and Freddys both ran out of traps and attractant.  I have 2 acres, and yellow jackets were all over the property.  Maybe the mild winter allowed more to live?

My plan now is continue traps until the figs are done.  Next spring, I guess as doon as you see the first yellow jacket - or is it before? - put out trap so the queens are caught too?

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quokka
Corvallis
148 Posts
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7
September 28, 2018 - 8:55 pm

Consider outsourcing the effort. All over the country there are organizations which will perform free removal - the venom has medical and research uses. Here's an example - not sure exactly where you are but they seem sorta near.

https://www.cascadiavenomcolle.....ion.com/ 

Free, somebody else does the work, nothing is done to introduce a poison to your environment, and it goes to a  productive end.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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8
September 28, 2018 - 11:16 pm

Great idea, Quokka!
John S
PDX OR

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buzzoff
84 Posts
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9
November 18, 2018 - 4:54 pm

I have never had Yellow Jackets attack my figs.   I don't tolerate their nests on my property.   In the ground, I bomb them with that synthetic pyrethrum spray from the hardware store.  Though I suppose, dropping some dry-ice, down into the entrance to their lair, might work as well.  Smother them with CO2!  I'm homicidally looking forward, to finding out.

As for Yellow Jackets in walls?  That isn't alright.  Such a nest once became established, in the front wall of my house.

Their entrance was a small, round, inobtrusive hole, surrounded by cedar shingles.  I simply  banged a wooden dowel into the hole, and cut it off flush.  Perhaps, the starved, mummified, bodies are still in that wall somewhere.

Yellow jacket problems, ceased thereafter.  Been years, hardly see 'em around anymore.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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10
November 19, 2018 - 9:14 pm

We used to shoot the nests down with a strong shot of water from a hose, then run. Kinda fun, kinda stupid.

John S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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11
December 4, 2018 - 8:06 pm

John, I hope you didnt get a lot of stings. 

I think the key next year will be to put out traps before the queens settle on a place, so they get trapped.  I'm not sure when they swarm - maybe March?  I might just put out traps in Feb to be safe.

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
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12
December 5, 2018 - 10:41 am

DanielW said
  I'm not sure when they swarm - maybe March?  I might just put out traps in Feb to be safe.  

Check here under this link
http://www.pesticide.org/natur.....rol_part_1
under the heading "Seasonality".

I understand your frustration being stung. I have used chemical sprays that shoot 20 feet at night before, and mostly to protect people. Sprays have a fast knockdown and seem cause the insect to not properly smell you. So if you had to do do it in daylight as a mode of people protection it is possible to gain traction by staying afar and perfectly motionless.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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13
December 5, 2018 - 12:25 pm

Rooney, thank you for the reference.  Looks very helpful.

I never cared much about yellow jackets until this year, when they completely destroyed my summer fig crop, and stung my dog.  I don't care so much if I get stung, but not my dog.

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greenthumb
1 Posts
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14
December 21, 2018 - 6:18 pm

General info on yellow jackets;

There are at least two kinds of hornets in the PNW-- Yellow Jackets that nest in the ground and bald-faced that build the paper cone nests in trees or bushes. Both are very destructive on fruits. Both bite not sting, and can bite multiple times where as honey bees can only sting once-- they lose their stingers and then die from the wound. The yellow jackets were extremely large in numbers this past year. That is why the sprays were hard to find, the stores could not keep up with the demand. I read on the internet about a trick I'm going to try next year when I find the yellow jacket nests. After dark or before the jackets become active in the morning; cover the entrance with a large translucent or clear plastic bowl. The yellow jackets emerge and just keep bumping against the bowl trying to get out. I think that mounding a little dirt around the bottom edge next to the ground to prevent easy exit would be a good idea.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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15
December 21, 2018 - 7:35 pm

But you might hurt their feelings.

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
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16
December 21, 2018 - 11:52 pm

Greenthumb: It's not quite that true that yellow jackets don't have stingers when the workers do. It is the queens that lack stingers for the extra equipment necessary laying eggs. As a ladd I had the unfortunate circumstance of running barefoot and landing on one that got stuck between toes. To my horror I looked down and saw that the stinger had penetrated inside a painful area of my toe. I limped for days. Ouch!!

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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17
December 29, 2018 - 8:37 am

Roone that i smy experience too.  I have seen the yellow jacket stick it's stinger into my skin.  It's painful.  They do chew away the figs, extensively.

This fall I finally hung yellow jacket traps into each tree.  They caught hundreds of the yellow jackets.  I did get a modest mia  crop as a result.  Before that out of hundreds of breba figs, I got at most 10 figs.  Very disappointing.

I have enough traps and attractant to start early this year.

I wonder if there is a use for all of those dead yellow jackets.  I poured the traps around the trees, as fertilizer.

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jekahrs
80 Posts
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18
January 8, 2019 - 3:50 pm

I haven't been on this thread in awhile but if there is anything that drives me crazy it's yellow jackets. I think one of the keys is to focus on the queens before they get established. When one understand this it starts to make sense. In the late summer the queen leaves the nest and goes hunting for new grounds. Without her pheromones the workers go bizerk and kinda get aggressive. Hence the late summer problems. Interestingly, I found traps worked less well in the fall then in the spring, perhaps for these reasons. I put out my traps in May when I saw big honking yellowjackets flying around. I ended up with 5-7 very large yellow jackets which were very likely queens looking for areas to form nest. I will just start putting them out in mid-april (especially this year which is El Nino and statistically speaking will be warmer then usual). Get them before they settle into your yard. In the spring I use both pheromones and fish to attract them. 

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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19
January 15, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been surprised twice by great big yellow jackets in the house.  I think queens.  They were sluggish.  I dispatched them.

I hope they came in on firewood or something.  I dont want to wake up to a kitchen full of yellow jackets!

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jekahrs
80 Posts
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20
January 16, 2019 - 1:14 pm

If I am not mistaken the whole nest dies out except for next year's queens. Your worry would be in the spring when the queens settle. 

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coolbrze
49 Posts
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21
February 21, 2019 - 8:58 am

Interesting replies. We've got no YJ nest on my property either but have tons of them on our figs (4 mature trees). Haven't been able to find anything to get rid of them other than picking the figs a day early. One type of fig we have they attack when it's 4-5 days from being ripe so I didn't get any of those last year 🙁

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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22
March 12, 2019 - 9:18 pm

I put out 2 yellow jacket traps last week with lure.  So far no victims.  I imagine they are still hibernating, but I want to get them from the first day they are out!

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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23
March 19, 2019 - 9:08 pm

Yes, I believe I have read that too Jekahrs.  The nest will come up somewhere else, maybe also in your yard, though.

john S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
24
May 9, 2019 - 8:41 am

In March I set out yellow jacket traps in my fig trees, to catch the early yellow jackets and queens.   Not much happened until the last week or so.  I've been replenishing the bait.  There have been a couple dozen in the traps, during the last week.   I think some of those are queens - very large.  I hope this saves my figs this year!

 

yellow jackets

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jekahrs
80 Posts
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25
August 13, 2019 - 5:17 pm

Look like queens! As the year went on did you start to catch smaller yellow jackets? Once the queens have settled the workers would be the ones to settle.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
26
September 4, 2019 - 7:08 pm

jekahrs said
Look like queens! As the year went on did you start to catch smaller yellow jackets? Once the queens have settled the workers would be the ones to settle.  

I think those were queens.  The later ones were smaller.

Setting the traps out and keeping them loaded with fresh lure made a huge difference.  I was able to get most of the ripened figs without yellow jacket damage.  There are still yellow jackets around and I am still trapping them.  If they remain under control, maybe there will be a nice fall crop too.

I have a number of containers with carnivorous plants.  I feed the dead yellow jackets to those.  The plants don't catch enough to make a difference, but at least I feel like I'm making something useful out of the yellow jackets.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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27
September 7, 2019 - 10:53 pm

That makes me think.  My wife just was bitten today.  She is afraid to get the ladder as she thinks she'll be bitten again.  We could leave out meat or fruit at a nearby location to distract them and retrieve the ladder from near their nest.  Once we've got the ladder, we could retract the lure/meat/fruit.

John S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
28
September 8, 2019 - 9:29 am

John, the yellow jacket traps come with instructions that state they should be set out at night, so the lure doesn't attract them and potentially result in a sting.  the reason is they are considered less active at night.  Maybe that is also an option.

 

They dug a nest under the tap for my rainwater tank.  Ive tried spraying into the hole, but it must be deep.  The last nest was under the outdoor house tap.  Maybe this is a trend,

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
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29
November 27, 2019 - 8:07 am

Administrators:

At least remove the link in the previous post fast before forum members that are without good maintenance and updates click on it. Because if we click on these it's possible to have your password intercepted by malicious web sites. This happens now and then, not the first time I've seen landing on a fake malicious page from this forum before so ACT on removing these fakes and the posts fast.

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
30
December 2, 2019 - 8:50 pm

Thanks Rooney.
John S
PDX OR

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