Yellow jackets enjoy feeding on sweet fruits.

How to Kill Yellow Jackets in a Flower Bed

by Amber Kelsey

Yellow jackets are social wasps with yellow and black striped bodies. These insects prefer building underground nests in abandoned burrows or other soil cavities. Although considered beneficial because they prey on numerous pest insects, yellow jackets quickly turn into stinging nuisances when they build colonies containing 1,500 to 15,000 insects in flower beds. You can eliminate yellow jackets quickly so you keep the area safe for you and your family.

Find the entry point to the yellow jacket nest during the day when the insects are most active by following one as it flies into the nest. Yellow jackets leave and return to nests several times a day, so carefully follow one and note the location so you can return after dark.

Put on protective clothing, such as thick gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, pants and goggles or other protective eyewear. Wear a bee veil and coveralls that tie at the ankles and wrists for added protection. The yellow jackets will violently attack anyone who disturbs their nest, so you need to be completely covered.

Place a lantern or flashlight on one side of the entrance hole. Covering the light with red cellophane helps avoid disturbing the pests.

Stand about 20 feet away from the nest and spray an aerosol insecticide specifically labeled for yellow jacket control. Concentrate on squirting the stream of insecticide directly into the nest opening.

Cover the entry point carefully by shoveling a pile of moist soil over the hole.

Inspect the treated flower bed the following day for yellow jacket activity. Repeat applications as directed on the product's label until you kill the entire colony.

Items you will need

  • Thick gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Pants
  • Goggles or other protective eyewear
  • Bee veil (optional)
  • Coveralls (optional)
  • Lantern or flashlight
  • Red cellophane (optional)
  • Aerosol insecticide
  • Shovel


  • When you spot yellow jackets near your flower bed, remain calm and slowly walk away. Don't run or make sudden moves because this can prompt the insects to sting.
  • Yellow jackets like sugar, so avoid hanging hummingbird feeders near your flower beds.


  • As always, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and avoid using insecticidal products around children and pets. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid handling any type of chemical pesticide.
  • Never pour petroleum products into underground yellow jacket nests. That is a dangerous and environmentally harmful practice.
  • Avoid squashing yellow jackets because they release an alarm pheromone that signals the others to attack.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images