How To Kill Yellow Jackets Nest In The Ground

Do you have a yellow jacket nest in the ground near your property? Do you want to know the best way to kill the yellow jackets in the nest.

There are different ways to kill yellow jacket nests in the ground such as

  • Solution of Peppermint Castile Soap and Water
  • A Regular Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • Insecticidal dust
  • Aerosol Insecticide

I will go through all of these methods below

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket Nest in The Ground

Yellow Jacket nests are usually under the soil. Thus, if you find a hole in the ground that looks like that of a squirrel with the flies coming in and out of it, you may have found a yellow jacket nest.

Identify a Yellow Jacket Nest in The Ground

Identifying a yellow jacket nest is easy, and it’s the right step towards getting rid of the insect in your yard. Hence, you may adopt the “trace back to the entrance” approach to find the nest. The following steps will help:

  • Start your search for the insects around 10 am. They’re usually active between that time and 4 pm
  • Stand still at a spot and look out for yellow jackets flying in a straight direction. No matter how distant their food spot is, yellow Jackets will usually fly in a straight line between the food source and their nest.
  • Trace the insects to where they’re coming from. Look for holes, and when you find one with the Yellow Jackets flying in and out of it, you’ve probably seen their nest.
  • If you can’t find the Yellow Jackets flying, you may lure them with food and then trace them back to their nest.
  • The Yellow Jacket nest looks like a left-behind squirrel nest. It often has a small hole entrance at the top, which may be covered with dry leaves. Hence, you may need to look well and be observant to find and identify their nest.

Do you have yellow jackets nesting in your wall or roof space? If yes check out this article I wrote about that.

Steps To Kill Yellow Jackets Nest In The Ground

There are different ways to kill Yellow jackets. Peppermint castile soap and water is a good home remedy that works. You may also opt for liquid dish soap or regular liquid laundry detergent.

You can get rid of all the Yellow Jackets in your vicinity by following a simple step.

Before we venture into the steps, let’s indicate what you’ll need to kill all the Yellow Jackets. They include:

  • Window screen
  • Protective clothing
  • Liquid detergent or peppermint castile soap
  • Rocks
  • Teapot
  • Long-nozzle watering can or a hose with a spray attachment
  • Flashlight
  • Aerosol insecticide

The steps include:

Soap and Water method

  1. Prepare a solution of peppermint castile soap and water. If you don’t have a peppermint castile soap, you may use the regular liquid laundry detergent or liquid dish soap.
  2. Trace and identify the hole with your flashlight. Place down the flashlight, pointing towards the hole so that your hand becomes free to apply the treatment.
  3. Pick up the solution and pour it directly into the hole. Don’t move too close to the hole while you do this, as the Yellow Jackets might get agitated and sting you as they try to escape. Instead, you should direct the solution into the hole using a hose with a spray attachment. You can also use a long-nozzled watering can.
  4. Wash the soap solution down the hole with boiling water.
  5. Evacuate the area immediately

Aerosol Insecticide

  1. Stay about 20 feet away from the nest to avoid being stung
  2. Shine your flashlight at the hole entrance
  3. Lay the flashlight on the ground, with the light directed at the hole
  4. Get your insecticide ready and point its spray at the hole. You should only use products with active ingredients like acephate, Carbaryl, diazinon, or tetramethrin.
  5. Spray the hole continuously for about five seconds. That way, you should have sprayed about one-half the can, which is enough to saturate the nest.
  6. Evacuate the area immediately
  7. Check back the area the next day to see if there is any Yellow Jacket around. If there is, repeat the process for the second time.

Insecticidal Dust

Sometimes, the liquid solution method might not work because most Yellow Jackets nests are designed to allow flooding to drain down the ground. That way, the solution may be less effective in killing the insects. Thus, the need for insecticidal dust. To apply this treatment, you should:

  1. Get a spray with a long handle or tape a cup to a long stick of about 4 feet.
  2. Fill the spray or cup with the insecticidal dust. Note that insecticidal dust containing active ingredients like Carbaryl or Chlorpyrifos is more lethal; thus, they’re better.
  3. Identify the entrance and shine your flashlight directly at it. Lay down the light, pointing towards the hole.
  4. Stand away from the hole as far as possible, then puff the dust into the hole using your spray. If you’re using a cup attached to the stick, empty the cup in the hole.
  5. Evacuate the area immediately.

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Important Tips To Note

The best time to treat the nests is at night. At this time, all the workers would be in their nest, and they’ll all be relaxed. Applying the treatment at this time increases your chances of killing all the insects at once. However, you may apply the treatment during the day, but you may have to apply multiple times to kill all.


  • If you’re allergic to insect stings, do not apply the treatment by yourself, have someone do it for you
  • Do not attempt to kill Yellow Jacket nest without wearing protective clothing

Why do Yellow Jackets make nests in the ground

Yellow Jackets nest in the ground to protect themselves against predators. It also offers them better protection against terrible weather and allows them to create a giant nest to accommodate a larger colony.

Why do Yellow Jackets make nests in the ground

These insects don’t just choose to stay under the soil; they do so for good reasons. For instance, should they build their nest on the tree, they may be affected by weather or other external factors. A surface nest could be damaged by a storm or stepped over by humans, machines, or animals. Human activities could easily damage it as well.

However, Yellow Jackets are strategic when it comes to nesting. An underground nest protects them against harsh weather. Even when there’s flooding, often, their homes are designed to allow flood drain down the soil without affecting them.

They also make their nests in the ground for better protection against predators. A surface nest is more visible to predators than the under-the-ground ones. The design is also strategic in that it allows the insect to protect their nest against an invasion easily.

Another reason why Yellow Jackets make nests in the ground is because it allows them to create a giant nest to accommodate a more elaborate colony. Such nests also last longer, allowing the insects to live together and survive for a more extended period.

How deep can a yellow jacket nest be

The depth of Yellow Jacket nests varies, depending on the kind of abandoned nests they use. For some, it could be less than a foot under the ground, while for others, it could reach a depth of 4 feet.

This tiny but powerful insect possesses a strong mandible they use for digging. This explains why you might find small pebbles around the entrance of their nest. Thus, even if the abandoned hole they use has a low depth of less than a foot, they could dig deeper too as much as 4 feet or more to accommodate more colonies.

Hence, it’ll be logical to say the larger the colony, the deeper the nest. A large colony of Yellow Jacket could dig deeper than 4 feet, while a little Yellow Jacket can manage a foot depth.

How many Yellow Jackets are in a ground nest

An average Yellow Jacket nest features between 500 to 15,000 cells. These cells will accommodate thousands of insects. Thus, while you may find about 1,000 insects in a nest, another nest might accommodate up to 100,000.

There could be a few thousand Yellow Jackets living in a nest, but this might increase as time goes by. Nests that remain for years without being damaged will welcome more insects, thus, expanding the colony. Reproduction will also occur over time, and the young Yellow Jackets may also remain in the same nest as their parents.

If a colony is left unchecked for long, it could grow to a whopping size of 1 million cells. Such a staggering size will accommodate over 100,000 workers. In other words, the old, unchecked nests will usually have more Yellow Jackets than new ones.

How to prevent yellow jackets from nesting in the ground

You can prevent Yellow Jackets from nesting in the ground by eliminating their access to food. If they can’t find enough food nearby, they won’t like to nest in the area.

There are two easy approaches to prevent this insect from nesting in the ground:

  • Eliminating their access to food
  • Fill the rodent abandoned holes in your vicinity

Eliminating their access to food

Yellow Jackets love to eat proteins; therefore, if they often find abundant proteins in an area, such as where you throw your garbage, they’ll likely be attracted to it and build their nesting near it. Therefore, to avoid such occurrences, you should shut out access to the food. You should also close the lids of your garbage cans and ensure no protein is left exposed.

Fill the rodent abandoned holes in your vicinity

Yellow Jackets often build their nest in holes abandoned by rodents. Thus, if you find any such hole in your vicinity that’s yet to be occupied by the insect, fill it up on time before they see it and build their nest in it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Yellow Jacket nests have two entrances?

Yellow jackets nests usually have one entrance. However, you cannot trap the insect in their hole by covering the entrance and thinking they’ll die. They’re intelligent tiny creatures and can create multiple alternative openings when trapped. Thus, even though you find a single entry, Yellow Jackets has a strong mandible and can create more entries within a short period if there’s a need for it.

How many entrances does a yellow jacket nest have?

Some yellow Jacket nests have one entrance, while some have multiple openings. However, the most common one you’ll find is a nest with a single entry. Often, the insect doesn’t bother to create a second or third entrance if there’s no threat and the main entrance isn’t blocked. Nevertheless, if they live in a rodent abandoned nest with multiple entries, they may maintain such multiple entries.

What eats yellow jacket nests in the ground?

Small mammals like skunks, raccoons, moles, badgers, and shrews often prey on Yellow Jackets. These small mammals have a high sense of smell and can tell if Yellow Jackets reside in a nest. They’ll dig up the nest and destroy it. They’ll then eat up the insects. In other words, if any of these rodents dominate an area, they can prey upon Yellow Jacket, destroy their nest, and eat the insect.

Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable