yellow jacket in hummingbird feeder

The end of summer marks the return of yellow jackets and they were infecting our hummingbird feeders at home. My wife bought some commercial wasp and yellow jacket traps, and it seemed simple enough to use by adding a lure like apple juice and hanging it somewhere and presto…our yellow jacket problem would be solved. Sure enough, we had dozens of yellow jackets entering the traps within an hour of setting them out.

Early the next morning before they became active, I inspected the traps, and to my chagrin they were all empty. Where did they all go? After the sun came up, more yellow jackets showed up and had entered the traps. After watching diligently, I noticed just as many came out of the traps than went into them. All we had been doing was provided them with a free buffet to come and go as they wanted. Well, I was madder than a hornet.

I arose again early the next morning to check on the traps to make sure there were no live yellow jackets ready to sting me. I was finally able to remove one of the traps, dump out the apple juice and clean it up. Upon some research, I found that yellow jackets can enter through a crack 3/16” wide and the opening in these commercial traps were 0.42” wide – no wonder they could escape!

opening in commercially available yellow jacket trap

A Clubmaking Staple Saves the Day

Somehow, I needed to reduce the hole size if I ever wanted to get rid of the yellow jacket infestation. What to use? The entrance was merely a tapered plastic piece. That gave me the idea of using a golf ferrule for a driver as a hole reducer. The base of our driver ferrules matched up to theirs and the inner diameter would reduce the hole size by 21%.

reducing hole size in hummingbird feeder with golf ferrules

Attaching the golf ferrule to their plastic tapered piece was easy. Simply dip the large end of the golf ferrule in some acetone and quickly press it against the end of the entrance hole and hold for a few seconds to melt the two together. You could use fast drying glue as well.

yellow jacket trap with golf ferrules to reduce hole size

As shown in the image above, there are yellow jackets that met their demise by not being able to exit the trap. It was such a success I modified the other trap with some 0.294” tapered tip wood ferrules I had squirreled away which clubmakers used to use for older wooden woods. They were still easily able to enter those holes as well. Within a week, it appears the hummingbirds are at peace as they don’t have to vie for any more food in anticipation of their long journey south for the winter in a few more weeks.

hummingbird drinking from hummingbird feeder