Chickens do and will eat yellow jackets if they can catch them. It’s perfectly fine for them to do so, and they provide a decent little snack. The risk of being stung is minimal, and they are not poisonous in any way so don't worry.
Is It Ok for Chickens To Eat Yellow Jackets?
It’s not just OK, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty handy having mobile pest control units monitoring the yard for pests like yellow jackets.
Chickens live off of insects and plants in the wild, so it’s perfectly normal for them to eat just about anything that crawls or flies anywhere they can munch them.
Insects like yellow jackets are typically rich in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. So they’re bonus treats and complement their diets.
Can Yellow Jackets Be Dangerous or Harmful To Chickens?
Despite us - well me at least - being scared of getting stung by yellow jackets and other yellow and black striped flying insects, they really don't pose much of a threat at all.
Yellowjackets are capable of stinging multiple times, but they typically do so so in a defensive manner.
Plus, chickens have a nice thick coat of feathers, so contact with skin is less likely than with us. I've never known a chicken to be stung by a yellow jacket, hornet, wasp, or bee. So I'd say it's unlikely.
I don't think it's likely that they swallow them alive to buzz around in their crops either. So, nothing to worry about - unless you have some kind of infestation that is!
The Difference Between Yellow Jackets and Wasps
It's easy to confuse a yellow jacket with a paper wasp. To be honest, they both sting, and as far as I'm concerned they’re both pests - so I treat them the same.
But I thought I'd clear up the confusion because a lot of people use the names “yellow jacket” and “wasp” interchangeably. When they are in fact different species.
The main physical differences are that yellow jackets a larger thicker and they have black antennae, not yellow as wasps do (if you want to get close enough to check that!).
They also look very different when they're flying. yellow jackets tuck their legs in, wile wasps have their legs spread out.
If you found a nest in your garden, which I recommend to get some checked out by pest control pretty quickly, this is also an easy way the determine which species you have.
Yellowjackets live in what looks like a ball of twigs and other debris stuck together with a small hole for entry. While wasps build nests in a honeycomb structure like bees do.
How To Trap Yellow Jackets for Your Chickens
Let’s be honest, it’s fun watching chickens chase yellow jackets and other flying pests around, but it’s not easy for them to catch them.
If you want to get rid of yellow jackets and feed them to your chickens, I recommend setting up a trap.
It’s important you use a pet-safe trap, which means you’re not using any chemicals or poisons to kill them.
The best pet-safe trap I’ve found is this wasp trap from Bee Coline available on Amazon:
I love how simple this is. It has a solar panel on the top to charge it up, and that’s enough to keep a small LED light lit inside overnight.
You can then tip them out and feed them to your chickens. I have a friend who does this to provide snacks for his chicks in his brooder, and he says it’s the best investment he ever made.
Some of the Other Backyard Bugs That Chickens Can Eat
Yellow jackets are just one of the many bugs and insects chickens will happily eat. In fact, there aren’t many bugs they will not eat!
As an example, here are some of the common backyard bugs that are fine for chickens to eat:
- Slugs and snails (read about the risks slugs present here.)
- … and just about any other critters you have where you live.
For the most part, all insects are great for chickens from a nutritional standpoint. You just need to be aware of any poisonous or toxic creatures you have in your area.
It’s a win-win overall though. You get the pest control services of your hungry hens, and they get plenty of snacks they enjoy.
Now you know, no not only do you have a solution to get rid of yellow jackets, wasps, and other pests, they actually provide a beneficial little snack for chickens.
Image credits - Photos by Michael Chupik and Nicolas DC on Unsplash