How To Get Rid of Wasps and Hornets

Wasp Nest Removal: How To Get Rid of Wasp and Hornet Nests

The best way of getting rid of wasps and hornet nests

The best way of getting rid of wasps and hornet nests ? Wasp nests are often found in trees, under structures, or inside homes. However, remove it at night if you decide to remove the wasp/hornet nest. Removing a wasps or hornet's nest may be tricky for the average homeowner, and you may want to call a professional exterminator.

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  • Remove the nest at night.
  • After you locate the nest, cover it with a garbage bag; gently pull the nest from the wall or tree (where it is attached) and seal the bag. You can leave the bag in the sunlight or freeze the bag to kill the wasps. Dusting the area with Tempo Dust will kill any stragglers that were not removed from the nest.
  • See Yellow Jacket Prevention for tips to prevent yellow jackets and hornets.
  • When To Spray A Wasp Nest

Key Takeaway

Regardless of the insecticide being used, treating wasps and hornets after dark will greatly reduce your chances of being stung.

Best Way To Prevent Wasps Nests

The best way to prevent a wasp nest, is to use a broad-spectrum insecticide like Avesta CS in areas where you anticipate wasps will build. Avesta CS is labeled for a wide variety of bugs so you can use them again for your next insect problem. Avoid spraying the nest directly during the day so you do not get stung.

Spray the nest liberally. If you're using a freezing agent in a wasp aerosol spray form, spray when most wasps are home at night to eliminate the infestation. All recommended products continue to work for a long period after application, so a second treatment generally isn't needed. If the nest is in a high traffic area, check it again to ensure all wasps are dead. Once you have verified that the wasps have been eliminated, remove the nest.

Getting Rid of Wasp and Hornets

Recommended Wasp Control Products

Aerosols - Get A Quick Knockdown

PT Wasp & Hornet Freeze, Wasp-X, Bonide Wasp & Hornet Aerosol are aerosols that would give a rapid knockdown of the wasp nest. You can spray as far away as 15-20 feet. These quick kill wasp aerosols have oily bases, so care should be considered when using not to stain a surface. EcoPco Jet Contact Insecticide Aerosol is another alternative. The ECO PCO line is much less toxic than other insecticides because they are made up of botanical lines.

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Tips to Get Rid of Wasps Inside

A common misconception about these insects is that they are only found outdoors. In reality, there's plenty of room inside your home--even if you live in an apartment or condo. The best way to keep wasp out?

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  • Check every entry point, even small tiny gaps.
  • Inspect your eaves and the mortar between the bricks
  • Inspect Home vents
  • Ensure all cracks and access points have been sealed up tightly with silicone caulk.

What Wasps Are Looking For In Your Yard

Shelter: Wasps need shelter and food sources to survive. They hide in protected areas such as attics, walls, under tree bark, stonewalls, or other sheltered locations. The queens are inactive during the winter months. They emerge during the spring and begin to build nests.

Food: She seeks food for her larvae, and the emerging workers and male wasps start searching for food. They start with protein-based food like other insects, but as the season progresses into the fall, they search out sugar items.

Wasp and Hornet Identification

There are over 100,000 species of wasps worldwide. The most common species is the paper wasp. Hornets and yellowjackets are also classified as vespid wasps, but some people mistake them for bees. Wasps can nest in many areas and prefer places like attics, sheds, chimneys, and eaves. One of the biggest threats from wasps is their ability to defend their colony. They will attack and sting when disturbed or their nests are threatened. Unlike bees, they can sting several times without causing harm to themselves. Their stings can lead to serious complications if attacked by a swarm or you have an allergic reaction to their venom. They are most aggressive around nest sites and present the greatest danger when they nest near an entrance to a home or office. Wasps release pheromones that signal other wasps in the colony to attack when they feel threatened. They can call the entire swarm for help. Hundreds of people die each year from allergic reactions to wasp venom. Hornets are also a problem in beekeeping communities because they can feed on bees and eliminate a whole colony in hours.

Stinging Wasps

There are two types of wasps, social wasps, and solitary wasps. The social wasps such as Yellow Jackets, Hornets, and Paper Wasps usually have a larger population than solitary wasps, like Mud Daubers and Cicada Killers.

The stinging wasps belong to the family, Vespidae. Solitary wasps also sting but are used primarily for subduing prey (the solitary wasps rarely sting humans).

One way to identify a stinging wasp is to note their wings when they are at rest. They fold their wings lengthwise, making them seem half as wide as they are. Most wasps build their nest from wood fibers, producing a paper shelter. These wasps are inactive during the winter months and hide in protective coverings. The queen makes the nests and feeds the young larvae.

Difference between a Wasp and a Bee

The main difference between and wasp and bee is that wasps feed on other insects, while mostly paralyzed arthropods and bees feed on a mixture of pollen and nectar. Wasps have smooth bodies as opposed to bees that have hairy bodies. They are about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch long in a variety of colors and shapes. They live off other insects, primarily spiders.

Wasp Control Products

Types of Wasps - Social Wasps and Solitary Wasps

Social Wasp-Yellow Jackets, Hornets, and Paper Wasps

Most social wasps live in nests and defend it aggressively and are vespid wasps (family Vespidae)

The Bald-faced hornet (Dolicho-Vespula maculata (sometimes called white-faced hornet), European or giant hornet (Vespra crabro), and Yellow Jackets (Vespula spp.) are prominent structure-infesting wasps. The Yellowjackets are the smallest of the common vespids. These wasps of the Vespid family are beneficial social wasps that live in colonies with thousands of individuals. These hornets are threatening because of their opportunistic behavior of nesting in structural voids, attics, and any cavities in landscaping features. They scavenge in trash containers and look for food and drinks that are consumed outdoors. They will eat ripe fruit in gardens and vineyards. As the temperature cools in the fall months with reduced food supplies, they may seek shelter in warm shelters, invading human structures. Since their colonies peak in the late summer and fall, their colonies are most noticeable. Paper Wasps are social wasps; they are also called umbrella wasps due to their nests' shape.

  • Typical "wasp" body type: - a short, narrow attachment between the thorax and the abdomen, which is spindle-shaped and tipped with a long stinger.
  • Thorax and abdomen brightly marked with yellow, red, or brown on a black background. Many hornets are confused with yellow jackets.
Eastern Yellow Jacket
Eastern Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jackets

Yellowjackets have bright yellow and black patterns. As a social wasp, they will aggressively defend their nests. Yellow Jackets have thin waists, while bees have a thicker waist. They typically build their nests in the ground. Many times their nests start from an abandoned animal burrow. They feed on meats and sweets.

Nests: Yellow Jackets may form a nest in the ground or structures.

Yellow jacket Control
Paper Wasps Nest
Paper Wasps Nest

Paper Wasps

Paper Wasps-Polistes spp, Family Vespidae: These wasps are also called umbrella wasps due to their nests' shape.

Paper Wasps have a coloration of yellow, brown, or red patterns on black. The Paper Wasp of the family Poliste commonly builds its nest under the eaves of houses or porch roofs. Paper Wasps are social wasps. Paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets construct nests of a paper-like material, a mixture of finely chewed wood fragments and salivary secretions of the wasps. Paper wasps typically build their umbrella-shaped nests under eaves and ledges.

Paper Wasps Control
  • These wasps are not as aggressive as yellow jackets or hornets and can be eliminated rather easily with a wasp and hornet sprays such as Bonide Wasp and Hornet Killer or PT Wasp and Hornet Killer.
  • After that, dust insecticidal dust like Tempo Dust into their entrance at night. Wear protective clothing and try not to use any lights. Even with Paper Wasp, you still can get stung. Treatment can be accomplished by applying a wasp and Hornet aerosols.
Bald faced Hornet
Bald-faced Hornet-white and black

The bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) is a large, black and white-colored, social wasp that is found throughout North America. It is not a true “hornet" but more closely related to the yellowjacket. The bald-faced hornet ranges in length from three-quarters of an inch to just over an inch. They have a black, relatively hairless body with white to pale yellow patches on their face and thorax and three distinctive white stripes around the end of their abdomen.

Giant European Hornet
Giant European Insect Hornets

Giant European Insect Hornets have yellow and brown coloring. They will aggressively defend their nests. A fertilized queen hibernates during the winter and emerges in the spring to establish new nests. Each colony may have 300 or more workers. They are active during the summer and spring months and are attracted to sweet foods. They are not as aggressive as yellow jackets. Some hornets are yellow and black and are confused with Yellow Jackets.

hornet nest
Giant European Insect Hornets

Nest: Giant European Hornet nests resemble a large, inverted tear-drop shaped ball that typically is attached to a tree, bush, or side of a building. Hornet nests may contain thousands of wasps, which are extremely aggressive when disturbed. Hornets are most commonly found in hollow trees. However, hornets' nests also can be found in barns, attics, hollow walls, and abandoned beehives. The hornets' nests built in unprotected places are covered with a brown envelope (paper) composed of chewed plant fibers. They gather bark from trees and leave small rings around the trunks of the trees. Many Hornets have large grayish-brown cartons like structure; they are often hanging from a tree or bush.

Solitary Wasps (Non-Social) - Sphecid wasps, Cicada Killers, Mud Daubers, Potter Wasps, Spider Hunter Wasps, and Cricket hunter wasp

The solitary wasps are Sphecid wasps, Cicada Killers, Mud Daubers, Potter Wasps, Spider Hunter Wasps, and Cricket hunter wasps. Solitary wasps species have one female that builds either one nest or several distinct nests.

Cartons are not used in these nests. Each nest has several cells. Prey (another insect or spider) is placed in a cell with an egg laid on top; then, it is sealed. They do not fold their wings when they fly like social wasps. Some solitary wasps build their nests in the ground, like digger wasps and cicada killers. The Cicada Killer, a solitary wasp, is mistaken for a hornet. Cicada killers are very common in the USA.

Cicada Killers

Cicada Killer Wasp
Cicada Killer Wasp

The female Cicada Killer will drag the paralyzed cicadas. The larvae will consume the live Cicada in the following days. A burrow may have up to 20 cells with 1-2 cicadas and one egg per cell. The egg hatches into larvae to feed on the Cicada. The larvae spin a cocoon afterward and enter a dormancy thru the winter(overwinter) and pupate the following spring, continuing the cycle.

Cicada Killer Control and Prevention

  • If you notice fresh holes or developing a nest, you can try applying Tempo Dust to the holes' entrance. When the holes are new, you still have the potential to kill the larvae and adults.
  • A more permanent and preventative method would be to apply Bifen LP Granules over the whole area and water it in. The Bifen LP Granules would not yield immediate results but stop them from returning the following year.

Mud Daubers

Mud Daubers and sphecid wasps are solitary wasps. Many people mistake the Cicada Killer for hornets. True hornets do not excavate burrows in the ground, such as the Cicada Killer.

Mud Dauber Wasp Carrying Mud
Mud Dauber carrying mud, before flying
Mud Dauber Nest covered with mud
Mud Dauber Nest covered with mud
Organ Pipe Wasp Nest
Mud dauber nest; showing different muds gathered from different places ( Pollinator Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Here is an excellent video from University of California describing the difference between yellow jackets, wasps and mud daubers.

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.