During spring, yellow jackets build nests in a variety of holes and gaps in the ground, rocks, buildings and even trees. Throughout summer and fall, these stinging insects, also known as "meat bees" scavenge for food at barbecues, in trash cans and other places to feed themselves and other members of their hive. Like paper wasps, yellow jackets are a social wasp, but unlike paper wasps, yellow jackets are more apt to sting. Unlike honey bees, yellow jackets can sting more than once. A few simple practices will eradicate yellow jacket attractants, preventing the insects from swarming on or around your patio.
Cover food trays with plastic wrap when eating outdoors on your patio. Keep the grill cover closed while the food is cooking. Never leave food sitting on an uncovered grill. Take all food trays, plates and cups indoors after eating.
Pour any unfinished drinks down an indoor drain. Do not leave any cups or glasses containing liquid unattended on the patio. Avoid pouring drinks on the ground next to the patio as the resulting puddles and residue will attract the yellow jackets. Wash the residue from spilled drinks off the patio's surface with water.
Discard any food scraps in trash bags, keeping the patio free from food debris. Pick ripe fruit and vegetables growing in your yard as soon as possible, cleaning up any produce sitting on the ground as well as on the trees and plants.
Tie trash bags tightly closed. Store the bag in a trash can. Keep the trash can's lid closed completely to avoid attracting the yellow jackets to the area. Position the trash can as far away from the patio as possible. Wash any spills or drips from the can's surface as they occur.
Check water spigots located nearby the patio for leaks. Fix any leaking spigots to eradicate resulting puddles of fresh water. Turn off the spigots completely after use.
Put away any garden hoses or sprinklers immediately after use. Never leave leaking sprinklers or hoses nearby the patio to eliminate sources of fresh water for the yellow jackets.
Place yellow jacket traps, sold at home and garden stores, around your yard to attract and capture these pests. Position the traps 40 to 50 feet away from the patio and any other high traffic areas to allure yellow jackets away from these functional areas.