Spring is a beautiful time of year, full of new growth and blooming flowers. But with the warmer weather comes the return of some unwelcome guests: wasps and yellow jackets. These stinging insects can be a real nuisance, especially later in the summer when their populations are at their highest. However, there is a way to reduce their numbers and keep them at bay throughout the summer: by using pheromone traps in the early spring.

Pheromone traps are an effective way to catch and kill wasp and yellow jacket queens before they have a chance to establish their nests. Queens are the only members of the colony that survive the winter, and in the spring, they emerge from hibernation and begin looking for a place to build their nest. By placing pheromone traps in the early spring, you can intercept these queens and prevent them from starting a new colony. It’s a great strategy that, when done right, can get you relief lasting throughout the season. There are many brands out there and they all work fairly well, one specific brand we’ve used is Rescue Yellow Jacket Traps and they are widely available in stores.

These traps work by using a Heptyl Butyrate attractant that mimics the scent of fermented fruit. The queens are attracted to the device and enter, where they are then trapped and killed.

When using pheromone traps, it’s important to place them in the right location. Traps should be placed in areas where wasps and yellow jackets are likely to be found, such as near garbage cans and fruit trees. Place them along the edge of your property, surrounding the area you are hoping to protect. Fence lines and trees make great locations to hang these traps. Avoid placing them in areas actively occupied by people, because due to the pheromone they will attract the wasps to them. Try to keep them at least 20 feet away from areas of consistent human activity. Instead place them on the periphery to draw the wasps away. They should also be placed early in the spring before the queens have had a chance to establish their nests.

It’s important to note that pheromone traps will not completely eliminate the population of wasps and yellow jackets. These traps are designed to catch queens, but there will still be worker wasps and yellow jackets that emerge later in the summer, but by reducing the number of queens, you can greatly reduce the overall population of these stinging insects.

In addition to using pheromone traps, there are other steps you can take to prevent wasps and yellow jackets from becoming a problem. These include keeping outdoor dining areas clean and free of food debris, sealing trash cans and compost bins, and trimming back any overgrown vegetation around your home.

Using pheromone traps in the early spring (April – May in Western Oregon) is a great way to catch and kill wasp and yellow jacket queens before they have a chance to establish their nests. Get them out early and keep the lure fresh. Don’t be discouraged if you only get a few queens because those few queens could represent thousands of individuals in the late summer.

Queen killin for summer grillin,

Adam Hiddleson is an Associated Certified Entomologist (ACE) and serves as Technical Director for Good Earth Pest Company


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