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Under Ground Yellow Jacket / advice ?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by DiGGz, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. DiGGz

    DiGGz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15


    I come to you as a forum Noobie and in desperate need of advice. This is my second season so far and the business is doing very well now that it is raining again. I also have another full time profession and moonlight in this industry maintaining only 9 high end private residences weekly. I'd love to expand but taking things slow to start off.

    My problem: The under ground yellow jacket nests.... one incident last year with a few stings, 7 stings in one incident last month, and 12 stings today more today. All different properties.... but similarly painful. I look and look but never see them until I go back to get my equipment after fleeing the area. Always under ground nests and impossible to see, all incidents are in back yards not heavily wooded but not sod.
    I figured I'd hit you fellas up for any advice at all. I would even bee (hahaha) willing to spend my own money to treat the yards with some sort of spray if it would help....just frustrated as hell and hoping for some type of input or tricks of the trade.

    Thanks for you time in advance.
  2. jbone

    jbone LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    You may want to call a local pest control service, and maybe ask them for their advice or a quote and then talk to your customer about having it done. If they refuse then prices go up. Hope this helps
  3. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    this time of yr. you start looking at the ground more often and if it has been dry they are even harder to find !!! more like they find you !!!!
  4. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I encountered the first ground nest last week. The temperature and precipitation have not been very conducive to the development of the nests this season.

    I have found the nests in places where holes are available. The most likely places are near former tree locations. A tree or shrub was taken out, but roots remained. The rotted material leaves a void, a natural place for them to take up residence. Even a place where the ground is uneven and a discontinuity in the soil conditions may make a place for them to hunker down.

    The typical pattern is to run across the nest with the walk-behind mower, and then step in the area about a second or two later. By that time, the mower will have stirred them, and they are evacuating the nest at the time my feet come across the nest area.

    I only mark the area in my mind, remembering not to mow across the place next week. I take no action to eradicate the nest. I typically leave the owner a note about the location. In this way, they know it exists, so that if they walk in the area, they know to be aware. And, if they choose to take action to eradicate the nest, then fine. In my experience, the typical homeowner approach of "getting some spray to get rid of them," is largely unsuccessful. The nest apparently are deep into the ground, and some spray from an can will not be sufficient to rid the nest of all the critters. A commercial company usually will get them all. I suspect they have a probe to put down the hole to inject large amounts of material. The homeowner remedies almost always fail.

    The other process is to wait a week, two, or maybe three weeks. Some animal will find the nest and dig it out, looking for the combs of eating material. I am unsure what animal does this, but many believe it to be a skunk, or maybe a raccoon. They will dig out the hole to some extent, enough to pull out the combs. Obviously, the animal is immune to stings. Whatever the animal does, they are 100% effective. After a digging, there is never another stinging critter in that hole. Nature takes it course. This happens in the more rural areas, where the predator animal is more likely to reside.
  5. Mike821

    Mike821 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    Funny story.....One day they kids were in the backyard just after gave them a cut & trim. I was stung a few times near this bule spruce and decided to inform the kids 15 or so years of age about the nest. They mentioned that on of them just got stung before I came. Well.....needless to say the father Chuck came out and said hello Mike....who got stung? The both of us said we did and pointed out the nest. He told us to wait a minute and he will be right back. He got into his car with a gas can and ripped down the road to the gas station. No shorter than 15 minutes and he is back. Look out kids....step back Mike....he began to douse the nest as he was being stung like no tomorrow. The man was sick! I informed him of the danger he might be facing with the spurce being so close and would advise some method of putting out the fire...I.E. fire ext. He just shook his head and lit a match. Bingo! Not only did the gas get in the nest....just like I said...the spuce was up in flames. Now we are taking a 15-18' footer about 9-10' wide. That thing went up like a match stick. Now the fire department shows up. What a mess and all over the nest that stung two people.

    Lesson.....don't use gas.

    and if you ever run across a Chuck Gue whom wants his yard cut....think again. This was one of the many stories that just made me shake my head.

    OH...btw...he had me fix the backyard after the 4th one year. Kids were throwing M80's attached to hairspray cans. They cleared a path of about five feet of grass and put a one foot hole in the ground.

    Amazing....just amazing

    Just thought I would share
  6. unit40

    unit40 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 100

    I will tell you an honest to GD way to get rid of them that really works. I have tried it myself many times with sucess. Locate the hole. Come back at night, try not to shine a flashlight at the hole, and place a large, clear, glass mixing bowl over the hole. Bring a 5 gal. pail of lom with you to spread around the edges and tamp it down. What will happen is, in the morning the yellow-jackets will wake and fly out of the hole. They will see the light but will be confused. They will not make an attemp to dig a new exit. They will quickly starve and die off. Monitor the bowl for activity, and remove once all activity has stopped. Might take a few days.
  7. DiGGz

    DiGGz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Thanks for the replies ! I can get rid of them without any hassle but I was more concerned with a good method of prevention to recommend to the customer. One to keep their kids from being stung after I have left and really pissed them off or me when I cut the lawn again. I was considering an insect spray of some type that would maybe discourage them from nesting in the first place. Nothing extreme just a quick backpack spray treatment. I'd do it for free and eat the expense just to keep from being stung again this season. I figure it would save me the pain and the homeowner feels they are getting a bonus for their money. Any thoughts along those lines ?

    Thanks again fellas,
  8. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Its tricky finding them ahead of time, unless you really spend time slowly observing.

    One tip I put on my website advice page about yellow jackets, is to place the traps away from patios, tables, etc..

    The worst mistake that people make, is not realizing that the chemical inside is an attractant, and placing the traps right next to thier patio, or child's play area.

    The traps need to be taken out to the far fringe to attract the yellowjackets away, then trap them.
  9. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    It is officially illegal to dump gasoline down a yellow jacket nest hole, as gasoline does not have a label for yellow jacket eradication! That being said, it is not necessary to ignite gasoline vapors for them to kill yellow jackets. If by some chance or happenstance you were fueling a mower, or other gas powered equipment, and some gas, maybe as much as a pint or two were to spill down the nest hole, it will kill the hive by vapor action, and you don't need to drop your cigarette, or match as if in feigned disbelief of your clumsiness at spilling the gas. If you accidentally spill gas down a yellow jacket nest hole, it is probably most effective at killing the buggers (inadvertently) if the spill were to happen at sunset or just before dawn, when most of them are in the nest.:nono: :nono:
  10. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    I usually get a couple of cases of bee killer and carry some in the truck, and ususally find them the second time after running over them then take care of them myself and let the home owner know if they are there or call them later that evening and let them know about it

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