If You Find This in Your Mailbox, Don't Remove It, Mail Carrier Warns

The strange discovery could be keeping you out of harm's way.

When you check the mail every day, you're probably expecting to find a lot of bills, some junk, and maybe if you're lucky, a more personalized letter or invitation. But these days, you might happen to notice one unexpected item in particular in your mailbox. And if you do, know that your mail carrier put it there for a reason and you shouldn't try to remove it. Read on to find out why.

If you find a dryer sheet inside your mailbox, don't remove it.

a blue box of dryer sheets
Von Nathan Antonino / Shutterstock

Reddit user @Istrx13 took to social media in April to address a question many homeowners might be asking themselves lately: "Why is there a dryer sheet in my mailbox?"

Istrx13—a mail carrier whose real name is Chris Strickley, according to Today—says mailboxes offer a comfortable shelter for yellowjackets and wasps in the warmer months. Multiple times, he's opened up mailboxes to find a small nest with around three to five yellowjackets inside. He says he was stung 10 times in 10 separate instances just last year. So, his hack is to put a dryer sheet in the mailbox as a way to fight back.

"We've found that they hate scented dryer sheets. If we encounter a box that is a problem for nests, we'll often put one in there and it does the trick," Strickley wrote on Reddit. "So please, if you one day randomly see a dryer sheet at the back of your mailbox, just know that your carrier more than likely put it there to deter these Satanic creatures from building their home in it."

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Any brand of scented dryers sheets could do the trick.

two boxes of bounce dryer sheets next to laundry detergent
Von Jiujiuer / Shutterstock

Strickley says the type of dryer sheet brand, scent, or whether it's eco-friendly or not "doesn't matter so much"—just as long as they're scented.

Strickley also warns that the dryer sheet hack should only be used as a safety measure, not to deal with a serious infestation. "I've never tried when there's a huge nest so I have no idea if it would work. I just immediately leave a note on the customer's door letting them know they need to take care of the nest before I can resume delivering their mail," Strickley says. "It would be best to get rid of the large nest and then put a dryer sheet in to keep them from coming back."

He also suggests replacing the dryer sheet when the scent has faded since the fragrance is the driving factor of what keeps the pests away.

Scientists are divided on whether or not dryer sheets really repel yellowjackets and wasps. 

JimmyR / iStock

Fact-checking website Snopes published a notice on Apr. 11 about the Reddit user's dryer sheet hack, which gardening, cooking, and pest management experts have also suggested over the years.

But not everyone agrees. A 2013 blog post by the Garden Media Group declared the hack to be a myth. Director of Research at Sterling International, Inc Qing-He Zhang, PhD, explained it's "highly unlikely that yellowjackets would be repelled by the perfume-y smell of the dryer sheets." Instead, he warns the "flower-like odor" of the sheets might attract insects.

The fact is dryer sheets have not been tested as a bug repellent, a spokesperson for the Entomological Society of America told WUSA9, a CBS News affiliate in Washington, D.C.

However, they did point out to the outlet that there was a 2012 study published in the journal Pest Management Science that found that "essential oils from a combination of clove, geranium, lemongrass and rosemary was highly repellent to western yellow jackets."

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The dryer sheet tip is not a specific instruction from the U.S. Postal Service.

a mail carrier delivers mail, reaches out of the mail truck
Captainflash / iStock

In an emailed statement to Today, a spokesperson with the U.S. Postal Service informed the news outlet that the Reddit post is "not a specific instruction or directive from the Postal Service." But they do have guidance in their safety regulations on handling insects.

"The guidance includes, but is not limited to: reporting hazards to a supervisor (i.e., hornet, wasp, and bee nests) so they can be removed by the property owner; using insect repellant as needed/when appropriate; avoid wearing perfume or other scented products; watch eating and drinking outdoors, especially with sweetened drinks as this attracts bees and other insects," the spokesperson noted.

RELATED: If You See This Bug in Your Home, Don't Step on It, Experts Warn.

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