Yellow Jackets Invade the House

This is the time of year when you are likely to see more yellow jacket activity outside.  If you had a Labor Day picnic, you might have noticed yellow jackets swarming around the food.  Last week Tom was outside cleaning the gutters and he noticed what he thought were bees going in and out of the house.  He immediately got out his insecticide and sprayed the opening, but then he decided to investigate further.

Tom noticed the “bees” flying in and out of this area

Tom went to the inside of the house where he saw the bees going in and out of the outside.  He had noticed them in the eaves of the garage above the small garage storage room.  When he went in the storage room, he looked at the ceiling and noticed a huge stain on the ceiling drywall.  He had just been in the storage room a few days earlier and had not noticed the stain, but it must have been there.  It looked like we had a big nest of bees over the storage room.

The ceiling of the storage room

Tom climbed up into the attic of the garage and cautiously approached the area.  The bees were under the insulation in the short area under the eaves.  After considering the situation, Tom backed out of the attic and came inside to talk to me about it.  We couldn’t do anything about it immediately because we were due at John and Jackie’s for supper.

We talked to John and Jackie about it while we ate.  Jackie suggested that we get a beekeeper to come over to remove the nest.  Although honey bees are not endangered, they are a valuable commodity for beekeepers.  Jackie suggested we contact some beekeepers to see if they could remove the nest.  It was a great suggestion and we don’t want to hurt honey bees if we can help it.  I did a little research online and found the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.  They have a list of beekeepers who will remove a hive of honey bees from your property.

We called a couple of the beekeepers in our area.  The first person said she didn’t remove hives from houses but she gave us the phone number of a beekeeper who did.  Tom called him and talked to him for a while.  The beekeeper wanted Tom to send him a picture of the bees because he thought they were probably yellow jackets.  Tom said he knew the difference between a yellow jacket and a bee.  After Tom insisted they were bees several times, the guy asked some other questions.  When he found out Tom had already used insecticide on them, although just on the entrance, he said he couldn’t take them out.  Beekeepers are only interested in taking bees they can use and he couldn’t use them after they had been sprayed.  That ended our conversations with the beekeepers.

The next day, Tuesday, we called Orkin.  Orkin has a 24 hour scheduling service and we were able to make an appointment for Thursday.  The quoted price was $299, which we felt was reasonable.  Tom had considered taking the next out himself, but was concerned about the location.  He didn’t have a quick escape route if the bees started stinging.  We felt good about hiring a professional to take out the nest.

Orkin to the rescue!

The Orkin man, Mike, showed up as scheduled on Thursday.  We immediately felt good about hiring him.  He was very professional and spotted the nest before he even came to the door to let us know he was here.  Mike told us that the nest was yellow jackets, not bees.  Specifically, they were German yellow jackets, or Vespula Germanica, an invasive species that arrived in the United States in the 1970’s.  They like to make their nests in attics and walls.  Tom was surprised to hear they were yellow jackets and not bees.

Mike headed up in to the attic to check out the situation.  He easily found the nest and proceeded to take it out.  Tom was surprised that Mike didn’t wear any protective equipment.  I guess the yellow jackets are killed quickly enough that they don’t have time to form an attack.  After Mike took care of the nest in the attic, he found another nest in the wall of the storage room.  He drilled a couple of holes and sent the insecticide into the wall.

When all the yellow jackets in the attic nest were dead, Mike removed the nest.  Although it was a good size, it wasn’t close to the largest nest Mike has ever taken out.  He took out one colony that was almost eight feet across!  I’m glad we caught our nest before it reached that size!

Mike with the attic nest

The day after Mike was here, there is no activity in the attic nest.  There are still some yellow jackets going in and out of the nest in the wall.  Mike said it might take a week or so for all of them to die because he didn’t have direct access to the nest.  We have a 30 day guarantee, so if the yellow jackets are still flying around that nest in a couple of weeks, we will call Orkin back.  If the nest is still active, we might have to remove some of the drywall to get the nest cleaned out.

We are very glad we called Orkin and let them take care of the problem.  They responded quickly, didn’t change the price even though there were two nests, and took out the yellow jackets.  Next time we see insects flying in and out around the house, we will pay more attention.