Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Keep Yellow Jackets Away From Picnic


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lavinie Dykes



Hosting a picnic is a delightful way to enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family. The only unwelcome guests? Yellow jackets. These pesky insects can quickly turn a pleasant gathering into a nightmare. However, fear not! With the right knowledge and strategies, you can keep yellow jackets at bay and ensure that your picnic remains a buzz-worthy affair.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the world of yellow jackets, gaining a deeper understanding of their behavior and habits. From there, we'll delve into a range of natural methods to deter these stinging insects, as well as how to construct a homemade yellow jacket trap. Additionally, we'll discuss the use of commercial repellents and provide tips on how to use them effectively.


By the end of this article, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to safeguard your picnic from yellow jacket intruders, allowing you and your guests to relax and savor the outdoor experience without any unwanted interruptions. So, let's dive in and discover the secrets to keeping yellow jackets away from your picnic!


Understanding Yellow Jackets

Before devising a plan to keep yellow jackets away from your picnic, it’s essential to understand these insects and their behavior. Yellow jackets, scientifically known as Vespula and Dolichovespula, are a type of predatory wasp that are commonly attracted to sugary substances, meats, and other picnic fare. They are distinguishable by their black and yellow striped bodies and are notorious for their aggressive nature, especially when their nest is disturbed.


Yellow jackets are social insects, living in colonies that can contain thousands of individuals. Their nests are typically constructed underground, although they can also be found in hollow logs, wall cavities, and other secluded spaces. These nests are founded by a single queen, who lays eggs that hatch into sterile female workers. As summer progresses, the colony expands, and the yellow jackets become more active in their search for food.


During a picnic, yellow jackets are drawn to a variety of food and drink items, including fruits, sodas, and even the scent of grilling meats. Their persistent presence can be a nuisance, as they hover around food, often causing distress and even stinging unsuspecting picnickers.


It’s important to note that while yellow jackets can be bothersome, they also play a crucial role in the ecosystem by controlling pest populations and aiding in the pollination of plants. Therefore, it’s often best to employ methods that deter them from picnics without causing harm.


By gaining insight into the habits and tendencies of yellow jackets, we can develop effective strategies to discourage their presence and ensure a peaceful and enjoyable outdoor dining experience.


Natural Ways to Keep Yellow Jackets Away

When it comes to deterring yellow jackets from your picnic, natural methods can be highly effective and environmentally friendly. By incorporating these strategies, you can create a less inviting environment for these insects, reducing the likelihood of their unwelcome presence.


1. Keep Food and Beverages Covered: Yellow jackets are attracted to the scent of food, especially sweet and savory items. Keep all food and beverages covered with tightly sealed containers or lids to minimize the aroma that might attract these insects.


2. Maintain Cleanliness: Spilled food and sugary residues can attract yellow jackets. Keep the picnic area clean and promptly clean up any spills to remove potential attractants.


3. Utilize Natural Repellents: Certain scents are known to repel yellow jackets. Consider using natural repellents such as citronella, mint, eucalyptus, or cloves. These scents can help deter yellow jackets while adding a pleasant aroma to the picnic area.


4. Plant Insect-Repelling Herbs: Cultivate insect-repelling herbs such as basil, mint, and lemongrass near your picnic area. These plants emit fragrances that can discourage yellow jackets and other insects from approaching.


5. Deploy Yellow Jacket Traps: Set up homemade traps using sugary baits to capture yellow jackets. These traps can help reduce the population of these insects in the vicinity of your picnic area.


By adopting these natural methods, you can create an environment that is less appealing to yellow jackets, minimizing the likelihood of their disruptive presence and allowing you and your guests to enjoy a peaceful and undisturbed picnic experience.


Creating a Yellow Jacket Trap

Constructing a yellow jacket trap can be an effective method for reducing the presence of these insects around your picnic area. By luring them away from your gathering, you can minimize the risk of encountering these unwelcome guests. Here’s how to create a simple yet efficient yellow jacket trap:


Materials Needed:

  • Plastic bottle or jar
  • Sugary bait (e.g., fruit juice, soda, or sugar water)
  • Sharp knife or scissors
  • Tape


  1. Begin by cleaning and drying the plastic bottle or jar thoroughly.
  2. Using a sharp knife or scissors, carefully cut the top third of the bottle or jar. This portion will serve as the funnel for the trap.
  3. Invert the top portion of the bottle and place it inside the bottom portion, creating a funnel that leads into the container.
  4. Secure the funnel in place using tape, ensuring that there are no gaps for the yellow jackets to escape once they enter the trap.
  5. Pour the sugary bait into the bottom of the bottle or jar. The scent will attract the yellow jackets, leading them into the trap.
  6. Place the trap several yards away from your picnic area to draw the yellow jackets away from your gathering.
  7. Monitor the trap regularly and empty it as needed to maintain its effectiveness.

By utilizing this homemade trap, you can capture and contain yellow jackets, reducing their presence near your picnic without resorting to harmful chemicals or pesticides. This approach provides a safe and eco-friendly means of managing these insects and safeguarding your outdoor dining experience.


Using Commercial Repellents

Commercial repellents offer a convenient and potent means of deterring yellow jackets from your picnic area. These products are formulated to discourage insects without posing a threat to humans or the environment. When selecting and using commercial repellents, consider the following tips for optimal effectiveness:


Choose EPA-Registered Products: Look for commercial repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products have been evaluated for safety and efficacy, providing assurance of their quality and reliability.


Follow Application Guidelines: Read and adhere to the application instructions provided by the manufacturer. Apply the repellent as directed, taking care to avoid excessive use or misuse that could compromise its effectiveness.


Select Suitable Formulations: Commercial repellents are available in various formulations, including sprays, lotions, and wipes. Choose a format that aligns with your preferences and the specific needs of your picnic setting.


Consider Long-Lasting Protection: Some commercial repellents offer extended protection, ensuring that your picnic remains free from yellow jackets for an extended period. Opt for products that provide lasting effectiveness to minimize the need for frequent reapplication.


Coordinate with Picnic Activities: Apply the repellent before the picnic begins to establish a protective barrier against yellow jackets. Reapply as necessary, especially if the picnic extends into the evening when insect activity tends to increase.


Be Mindful of Sensitivities: If any individuals attending the picnic have sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients, select a repellent that is suitable for sensitive skin and free from potential allergens.


By incorporating commercial repellents into your picnic preparation, you can fortify your defense against yellow jackets and ensure a pleasant and undisturbed outdoor dining experience for you and your guests.



Hosting a picnic should be a joyful and relaxing experience, and by implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can minimize the intrusion of yellow jackets and create an environment that is unwelcoming to these pesky insects. By understanding the behavior of yellow jackets and employing natural methods such as maintaining cleanliness, utilizing repellent scents, and setting up homemade traps, you can effectively deter their presence without resorting to harmful chemicals.


Furthermore, the use of commercial repellents offers an additional layer of defense, providing long-lasting protection and convenience for picnickers. By choosing EPA-registered products and following application guidelines, you can bolster your efforts to keep yellow jackets at bay and ensure a pleasant outdoor dining experience for all attendees.


Ultimately, the key to a successful and enjoyable picnic lies in proactive planning and the implementation of effective yellow jacket deterrents. By creating an environment that is unappealing to these insects, you can savor the company of your guests and the delights of the outdoors without the unwelcome presence of yellow jackets.


So, whether you opt for natural methods, homemade traps, or commercial repellents, rest assured that you now possess the knowledge and tools to safeguard your picnic from yellow jacket interruptions. With these strategies in place, you can look forward to many more memorable picnics, free from the disturbances of these buzzing pests.