Help!! Yellowjackets nesting in straw in chicken tractor


11 Years
Nov 19, 2008
Central Virginia
We went out to move our chicken tractor this evening. It has been sitting there since last fall, with over 12 inches of straw. Grass has grown up through the hardware cloth we anchored at the sides to keep out digging preditors.
As we were pulling up the grass to release the mesh, yellowjackets appeared and stung one of us.

I am unsure how to deal with this. They are in the straw or ground under the tractor. I don't think I can even spray them because I can't see the entrance. I'd burn the straw, but it probably is too damp in the lower layers, plus, my tractor would burn. How do I deal with this. It's beside my coop and I don't want to expose my hens to poison.

I am so thankful this wasn't later in the season when they get aggressive.
Well they are nasty little boogers that's for sure. You will have to find the entrance if you can. Once you locate it (best to watch at dusk when they are all returning to the hole) and once it's located you can put a clear glass bowl over the hole. Leave it there and they will soon all die. Hopefully you can move the tractor once the bowl is in place. They will not dig a new hole to get out. Good luck
I found the entrance. There's nest material formed in the opening. I'm going to go ahead and spray in a bit. I can cover the area to keep my hens away.
I really need to get this thing moved because my new chicks in the garage need to go out into it.

I wonder if they would attack chickens?
Don't spray, it won't get them all, cover it with a bowl. The chicks in the garage can wait a few days.
I couldn't cover it. Unfortunately the opening is right up under the bottom wood frame piece. It's a 2x2 and they have their opening right at the edge.

I sprayed it. In the morning, before I let the hens out, I'm going to hand cut the grass that's growing up through the mesh if there's no activity. Then I'll try scooting the tractor over.

If I survive that , I'll cover the hole with a water filled ziplock bag. I figure that will conform to the uneaven ground and weigh down the grass to seal off the opening. I'll bag up and throw the grass that was sprayed and throw a tarp over the area to protect the hens.

What do you think? I could even shovel up the contaminated soil later, after I'm sure the little demons are dead.
Happy ending!
I went out this morning and checked the nest. I was relieved to see that the nest was not in the straw inside the tractor at all, nor had they tunneled into the ground. I guess they were building it above ground in the grass.
I found about 8 dead yellowjackets and about the same number of larve. They were about to double their numbers. I'm sure the population and size of that nest would have grown rapidly over the next few weeks.
I am so glad we found it when we did, before they got more aggressive later in the summer. I just wish my son's sweet girlfriend hadn't been stung.

I feel bad about using the spray. I try to live "green" but when it comes to those evil yellowjackets I cave in.
For future yellow jacket problems; Find the hole, wait until dark, mix some dish detergent in a few gallons of water, pour soapy water into the hole at night.

Problem solved. I always used gas to pour in the hole. It works wonderfully. Although it was poluting the soil.
My buddy's mother told me to use soapy water. It works just as good as gas, without the polution.

Wow, I'll have to give soapy water a try.
I always assumed people poured the gasoline in the hole because they were going to burn them out.
If the soap works, that would be a much safer method, provided it was able to reach all of the bugs.
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