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How to Remove Yellow Jackets From an Air Conditioner

Ruth de Jauregui

A nest of yellow jackets inside or under your air conditioner is a hazard to you, your children and your pets. Use extreme caution when approaching or removing the nest since yellow jackets can be very aggressive.

Yellow jackets are aggressive stinging insects.
  1. Locate the yellow jacket nest. The nest may be in the ground under the air-conditioning unit or inside the unit's shroud. Look for an opening where the yellow jackets enter and leave the nest.

  2. Purchase several cans of freeze-type or foaming spray insecticide. Wait until after dark, preferably when the temperature is under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, before applying the insecticide. Dress in heavy clothing to protect your skin and bring a flashlight.

  3. Cover the lens of your flashlight with transparent red tape. Wasps and yellow jackets are attracted to white or yellow light; the red light is less likely to attract angry insects. Place the flashlight where it shines on the nest, at least 10 feet from where you are standing. Spray insecticide on the entrance to the nest. If yellow jackets swarm out, move away from the nest and the light. Repeat this step every other night until all the yellow jackets are dead.

  4. Purchase a powdered insecticide such as Sevin or Dursban as an alternative to freeze-type or foaming spray insecticide. Wait until it is completely dark on a cool night before applying the insecticide.

  5. Pour the powdered insecticide into a squeeze-type container that has a narrow opening. Carefully approach the nest and insert the tip of the container into the nest's entrance. Squeeze several times to "puff" the insecticide directly into the entrance. Retreat rapidly before the yellow jackets attack. Wait several days to ensure that the yellow jackets are dead before removing the nest.

  6. Remove the air conditioning shroud. Usually, it is held on by screws. Use caution when removing the nest since there still may be a few yellow jackets alive inside.

  7. Drop the nest into a bucket of soapy water and completely submerge it to kill any stragglers. Dispose of the nest in the trash.

  8. Tip

    Prevention is better than extermination. Put out yellow jacket traps early in the spring and keep them filled with apple juice or other sugar-filled beverages. Cover garbage cans tightly to avoid attracting yellow jackets.


    Yellow jackets are very aggressive. Use extreme caution when approaching the nest.

    If you are allergic to bee and wasp stings, do not attempt to remove the nest. Hire a professional exterminator.

    Avoid breathing powdered insecticides. Dispose of the empty insecticide container. Do not reuse it.

    Some sources recommend using gasoline or kerosene to kill yellow jackets. Pouring a flammable liquid into an electrical appliance is not a good idea, since just one spark could destroy your air conditioner or start a fire.