Summer is here, and along with all the things we love like BBQs, swimming pools and flower gardens come a pesky problem – wasps, hornets and yellow jackets!
If you find that wasps are moving in and you’re worried about your family and pets getting stung, it’s time to take action. Here’s our guide on how to get rid of wasp nest safely from your home.
What are Wasps?
Wasps are a group of flying, stinging insects that includes several distinctive species. It’s a myth that these insects aren’t beneficial, as they play an important role in controlling pest populations, including spiders, caterpillars, weevils and flies, preserving crops naturally.
They also play an important role in pollenating plants, just like bees! Like any other animal or insect, they have benefits and play a vital role in maintaining a healthy eco-system.
So, should we try to get rid of wasps?
Before automatically getting rid of every wasp you see, you should take some important factors into consideration:
- The location of the nest – If the nest is located in a space where it’s likely to bring wasps into contact with people, like near a front door, on the porch, in a grill or by an open window, then it may be advisable to remove it.
This is because wasps are territorial and can react aggressively if they think their nest is in danger.
- Small children and pets – If small children or pets are likely to come into contact with the nest, then it is best to remove it.
- Allergies – Some people are highly allergic to wasp stings, which can cause a dangerous allergic reaction, so it may be best to remove the nest if anyone in your home suffers from this type of allergy.
Steps on How to Get Rid of Wasp Nest Safely
Step 1: Carefully Find the Nest
Just because you have wasps flying around doesn’t mean that there is a nest on your property – but there likely is one nearby. It’s a good idea to locate the nest (without getting close!) so you can identify the species and determine if it needs removal.
Remember to protect yourself against stings just in case, so wear long sleeves and trousers, closed-toe shoes and gloves, and eye protection. If you are allergic to wasps, do not attempt to get close or remove the nest.
Step 2: Identify the Species
There are several common species of wasp in the USA, including:
- European Wasp and English Wasp – These are the most prolific species, found across the USA. They have a yellow and black body, are attracted to sweet foods, and colonies can be as large as 25,000 individuals.
They sting aggressively and repeatedly, but do not swarm. Usually, nests are found in sheltered areas like wall cavities, garages and lofts.
- Yellow Jacket – This is a social wasp that has a more fly-like body with alternating yellow and black bands. They are very effective at controlling pest populations and will sting repeatedly if provoked, which can create a severe allergic reaction.
They tend to be seen in the daytime and nest in trees, shrubs, hollow walls and under eaves, and often fly out in larger numbers.
- Baldfaced hornet – With a similar body type to the Yellow Jacket, this hornet has darker, banded coloring of alternating black and white stripes.
They are an aggressive species that can sting repeatedly, especially in the fall as food supplies decrease. They nest in sheltered spots including tree hollows, inside porches and under eaves.
- Paper wasps – Named after their very distinctive, cone-shaped nest that looks like it’s made of paper, these wasps are not typically aggressive despite their bold, orange-tipped antennae and black and yellow body, which can measure up to 1 inch long.
They only tend to sting if they feel their nest is under threat.
- Mud Dauber Wasps – These larger wasps look impressive with their narrow, dark bodies that can measure up to 1 inch, bulbous stingers and wide wingspan, but they are typically non-aggressive and harmless.
They build nests out of mud in sheltered spots and tend to prey on spiders. They are usually found in small groups.
Step 3: Decide on a Wasp Nest Removal Plan
There are two options here – either you can attempt to remove the nest yourself, or you can call in a pest control company. We do not recommend the do-it-yourself route, as there is much more risk involved.
Your actions could easily cause the colony to swarm and attack you, which is painful and, in some cases can be deadly.
If you have a large nest inside or near your home, or a particularly aggressive species of wasp on your property, the best action you can take is to call an exterminator.
You can also call your local vector control district to see if they can assist you.
Step 4: Choose the Right Season
Nests are abandoned each season, as only the queen survives the winter months. In the early spring, she comes out of hibernation and the nest-building and breeding process starts, peaking in mid-summer. If it’s winter or early spring and the nest is old, abandoned or very small, you can remove it yourself.
The wasps will be the most aggressive in late summer, as this is when the last set of wasps are born, consisting of new queens and males, which causes the wasps to become more protective.
This is the most likely time of year for swarming and stings, so it’s better to call in an exterminator rather than trying to get rid of the nest yourself.
If you find the nest in late fall or winter, you can likely leave it alone as the cold will kill off the wasps for you, and then you can remove the nest before spring.
Step 5: Choose the Right Time of Day
Wasps are at their most active during the daytime, becoming sluggish and less aggressive at night, so plan your wasp nest removal for the evening or very early morning to avoid stings.
Step 6: Treatment Options
There are two main ways on how to get rid of wasps – using pesticide sprays/insecticidal dust or organic solutions.
If you decide to use a pesticide spray or wasp killer:
- Cordon off the area and make sure other people, pets and children are well away from the nest – preferably inside in a room with closed windows.
These pesticides are very strong and can be deadly for 24 hours or more, so do not let anyone go near that space for at least a day.
- Wear protective clothing, tucking in your sleeves and trousers so there are no gaps for wasps to come into contact with your skin. Wear a scarf or mask over your face to avoid breathing in the spray.
- Read the pesticide instructions so that you apply the solution properly, targeting the opening of the nest and spraying for 10-15 seconds or according to manufacturer instructions.
- Leave the nest overnight to allow the pesticide to be effective. The next day, observe the nest to make sure that there is no activity.
- Dispose of the wasp nest and any dead wasps as these can be deadly if ingested by wildlife or pets. You can knock down the nest with a stick and break it apart, saturating it with pesticide if necessary.
Insecticidal dust is recommended for ground nests, particularly yellow jacket nests. Here’s how to use it to kill wasps:
- Measure out the recommended amount of insecticidal dust as per manufacturer instructions. Cordon off the area to make sure children and pets cannot get near it, as the dust is very poisonous.
- Apply liberally at dusk or early morning, focusing on the nest opening while wearing protective gear.
- Do not cover the nest, let the wasps move in and out freely as this will help move the dust into the heart of the nest.
- Vacate the area and avoid it for a day or two, keeping pets, children and wildlife clear of the space.
- Dispose of the nest and dead wasps.
How to Get Rid of a Wasp Nest Naturally
Pesticides and insecticidal dust should be a last resort, as they kill beneficial insects as well as posing a risk to the environment, wildlife, pets and people.
We recommend that you try natural solutions first to minimize these environmental impacts of killing wasps.
- Dishwashing soap – Mix 1/2 cup of dishwashing soap with a few gallons of hot water, making it frothy and sudsy. Use a backpack sprayer to send a stream into the nest (our simply pour it out if it’s a low or ground nest) to saturate the nest.
Repeat a few times over the next week until there is no more wasp activity.
- Peppermint oil – Mix one tablespoon of peppermint oil with 4 cups of water. You can also add a few drops of clove oil, lemongrass oil or geranium oil if you want.
Mix and pour into a spray bottle. Saturate the nest, repeating a few times over the next few days until the wasps are gone.
Getting Rid of Wasps – What NOT to Do!
When removing a wasp nest, it’s important not to put yourself, your property or others at risk. Here’s what not to do:
Smoke or fire – Although smoke or burning a nest will get rid of it, it is incredibly dangerous. The nests are incredibly flammable and can easily cause an out of control fire that puts yourself, your home and surrounds at risk.
It will also cause the wasps to become very aggressive and attack you.
Water – Flooding a wasp nest will cause the wasps to evacuate, but it’s very risky. First of all, this option isn’t suited to wasp nests in sheds, under porches or indoors as you can damage your property.
Secondly, the wasps will swarm out of the nest and become highly aggressive.
Knocking the nest apart – Using a stick to damage the nest is going to be perceived as a threat, causing the colony to come out and attack you.
Because you need to be in close proximity to the nest to do this, they will likely become very aggressive and attack even before you start.
Preventing Wasp Nests
Of course, the best way to get rid of wasps is to ensure they don’t move in in the first place! Here are some tips to help make your home and property less attractive to wasps:
- Maintain your home – Block up cracks and entry points where wasps can get under your porch, into your attic or inside your shed. Hire professionals to conduct a house survey and spot any issues or weak points of the home.
Use expanding foam insulation to patch any holes or crevices in the property. Use caulking to seal any cracks or slight openings on window sills as well.
- Cover, clean and store unused items – Items such as grills, gardening equipment and outdoor furniture can look very attractive to wasps, so it’s best to clean and store these items away when they aren’t being used.
This is especially important in the early spring when wasps go out seeking new nesting areas.
- Keep an eye out – If you see wasp activity, especially in early spring, keep an eye out for new nests and remove them. It is much easier to remove a nest in the very early stages than when the colony is established.
- Remove food sources – Including ripe and rotten fruits, pet food and open garbage cans or compost piles.
- Plant wasp repelling plants – Wasps do not like geranium, mint, marigolds, basil or pennyroyal, and planting these around potential problem areas like porches can keep them away.
Now You Know How to Get Rid of Wasp Nest Safely From Your Home
While wasps are beneficial to the environment, they can be dangerous if they build a nest close to your home or if you and your family are allergic to their stings, in which case they should be removed.
While we highly recommend professional wasp removal services as these offer the least risk and the best results, there are ways you can safely remove a wasp nest at home.
We recommend that you remove it as early as possible in the spring, that you remove it in the evening or early morning when the wasps are dormant, and that you wear protective gear.
If you use pesticide or insecticidal dust, keep children and pets well away from the area and clean it up well. If you want to use a natural and eco-friendly method, rather try a peppermint oil or dishwashing soap solution.
We hope this how to get rid of wasp nest guide helps your home stay wasp-free this summer!