Who in their right mind enjoys the company of a wasp colony? Yeah, they are a huge benefit to pollen production and eliminating other harmful insects, but why so vicious?! Just like with our friendly bees, there are safe ways to remove wasps. Some of us out here probably want to match that aggression and take down the whole operation. We are here for both options: safe for you and safe for the wasps.
Dealing with a wasp infestation can be both unpleasant and hazardous. Wasps are known for their aggressive behavior and ability to sting multiple times, which can result in pain and swelling. For individuals with allergies, wasp stings can pose a significant threat. Between 2000 and 2017, the CDC claimed that hornets, wasps, and bee stings were responsible for causing 1,109 deaths.
Types of Wasps
Yellow jackets are aggressive, predatory wasps that build aerial nests. They have black and yellow stripes and can sting repeatedly. They feed on insects, nectar, and fruit. Yellow jackets are most active during late summer and fall. Their nests are made of a gray papery material and can be found in trees, shrubs, or underground.
Mud daubers are solitary wasps that build tubular mud nests. They are not aggressive unless disturbed directly. They feed on spiders to provision their nests. Mud daubers have long, slender bodies and are black with yellow or white markings. Their nests are made of mud and can be found attached to walls, eaves, or other structures.
Hornets are large, predatory wasps with black and yellow stripes. They are aggressive when disturbed and can sting repeatedly. Hornets build large, gray paper nests that hang from tree branches or eaves. They feed on insects, nectar, and fruit. Hornets are most active during summer and fall. Colonies die off in winter.
Paper wasps build large nests of gray, papery material. They are generally only aggressive if their nest is disturbed. Paper wasps have black and yellow stripes and can sting. They feed on nectar, fruit, and insects. Paper wasp nests are found attached to walls, eaves, or tree branches. Colonies are annual, dying off in winter.
How to Tell You Have a Wasp Infestation
The most obvious sign of a wasp infestation is seeing an unusual number of wasps around your property. A few wasps here and there are normal, but a large number often indicates a nearby nest.
Wasps build their nests from chewed wood pulp, creating a paper-mache-like substance. Nests can vary in size and will often be found in sheltered areas like eaves, attics, garages, and under decks.
Increased Wasp Activity:
Wasps are most active during the day. If you notice an increase in wasp activity around your property, particularly in and out of a specific area, it’s likely that a nest is nearby.
In large numbers, you might be able to hear a buzzing or humming noise coming from the nest, especially if it’s located inside your house.
Finding wasps inside your home on a regular basis is a strong indicator of a nest somewhere in the structure of your house.
Damage to Wood Structures:
Some species of wasps, such as the wood wasp, can cause damage to wooden structures or furniture. They burrow into the wood to lay their eggs.
Differences Between Wasps and Bees
- Bees are generally fuzzy and round/oval-shaped with thicker bodies, while wasps have slender, smooth bodies with narrow waists.
- Bees are typically darker in color, often black and yellow. Wasps can have more colorful patterns like black and yellow, black and white, brown, or metallic blue.
- Bees have branched hairs to help collect pollen, while wasps do not have these specialized hairs.
- Bees have shorter antennae compared to wasps.
- Bees get all their nutrients from pollen and nectar which they collect from flowers. They bring this back to their hive to feed their larvae.
- Wasps are predators and scavengers. They hunt other insects like flies and caterpillars to feed their larvae. They also eat nectar and the honeydew produced by aphids.
- A bee can only sting once because its stinger becomes detached after stinging, which leads to the bee’s death.
- Wasps have smooth stingers, which allows them to sting repeatedly without injury to themselves.
- Bee stings are generally less painful than wasp stings because they do not inject as much venom. Wasp stings are more likely to cause severe reactions in those who are allergic.
Top 5 Things That Attract Wasps to Your Yard
Wasps are attracted to sources of food like sugary drinks, fruit, and meat. Spilled drinks, open garbage cans, compost piles, and pet food left outside are common food sources that attract wasps.
Wasps need water, just like other animals. Sources of standing water like birdbaths, pool covers, and pet water bowls attract wasps looking for a drink.
Wasps look for sheltered places to build nests. Overhanging eaves, cracks in siding, hollow fences, and dense shrubbery provide ideal shelter for wasp nests.
Wasps are attracted to the UV light reflected by certain bright colors like yellow, orange, and purple. Brightly colored patio furniture, clothing left outside, and flowers can all attract wasps.
Certain types of flowers attract wasps to collect nectar and pollen. Flat-faced flowers like daisies, sunflowers, and coneflowers are favorites.
Safe Ways to Remove Wasps
To reduce wasps in your yard:
- Remove food sources and standing water
- Seal cracks and holes in structures
- Trim back overhanging tree branches
- Avoid using bright-colored patio furniture and decorations
- Reduce or remove flowering plants that attract wasps
- Use traps baited with sugary liquids to lure wasps away
- Locate the wasp nest. This could be in an overhang, wall, tree, or other sheltered area.
- Spray the WD-40 directly into the entrance of the nest. You want to thoroughly soak the nest opening and surrounding area. WD-40 works by coating the wasps’ wings and bodies, preventing them from flying and disrupting their chemical communication. It also damages the wax in their nest, weakening its structure.
- The wasps will become agitated and start to leave the nest. This is when they are most dangerous, so be careful and watch for stings. Reapply the WD-40 every few hours or daily until the wasps have abandoned the nest. It may take several treatments.
- Once the nest has been abandoned for a few days, you can safely remove and dispose of it. Wear protective gear like gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots during removal.
- Seal any holes or cracks where the wasps enter the structure to prevent new nests from forming. Be aware that WD-40 is flammable and toxic to plants, so use it carefully. Only spray the nest directly and avoid spraying nearby plants.
For larger wasp nests or hornets, professional pest control may be required. WD-40 can help control small to medium wasp problems. WD-40 can be an effective, inexpensive way to eliminate small wasp nests. Just be careful during the application process and while the wasps leave the nest. With repeated treatments, the wasps should eventually abandon the nest, allowing you to remove and dispose of it properly.
DIY Bait Trap
- Prepare the Solution: Mix 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of peppermint oil with 16 oz (463 mL) of water in a bowl. Peppermint oil is known to repel wasps, so this will act as your attractant.
- Add Dish Soap: Add a few drops of dish soap or hair shampoo to the mixture. The soap will break the surface tension of the water, causing the wasps to sink and drown when they come into contact with the liquid.
- Pour into a Trap: Pour the mixture into a wasp trap. If you don’t have a trap, you can make one by cutting the top off a 2-liter plastic bottle and inverting it into the bottom half to create a funnel. The wasps will enter the trap attracted by the scent of peppermint, but the design of the trap will make it difficult for them to escape.
- Place the Trap: Place the trap in an area where you’ve noticed wasp activity. Be sure to hang it away from areas where people gather, as the scent will attract wasps.
- Check and Empty the Trap Regularly: Check your trap regularly. Once you’ve caught some wasps, you can empty the trap. Be careful when doing this – it’s best to do it at night when wasps are less active.
Safe Ways to Remove Wasps with Wasp Traps
Here are some tips on using store-bought wasp traps safely and effectively:
- Read the label carefully and follow all directions. Different traps may have different lures, baits, or ways to activate them.
- Place traps 30-50 feet away from areas with heavy human activity like doors, patios, etc. This reduces the chance of getting stung by wasps around the trap.
- Position traps in discreet areas like under bushes, trees, or eaves. Wasps are less likely to notice them. Avoid open, high-traffic areas.
- Use several smaller traps spread out rather than one large trap. This covers more ground and targets more nests.
- Maintain traps by refreshing lures/baits per the product instructions. Old lures stop being effective
- Traps are non-selective and may attract beneficial insects too. Occasionally check traps and release any unintended catches.
- Active traps will contain live, angry wasps. Take precautions when inspecting or replacing traps. Wear protective clothing if needed.
- Dispose of used traps carefully by sealing in a plastic bag before throwing away. This prevents escapes.
- Don’t place traps close to pools, food areas, animal pens, etc. The traps may lure wasps to those spaces.
- Monitor for decreases in wasp activity to know if trapping is working. Remove traps once the problem is resolved.
- A brown paper bag crumpled up into a ball can mimic the look of a wasp nest. Hang it somewhere out of direct rain.
- You can create a papier mâché decoy nest using newspaper strips soaked in a flour/water paste. Shape it into a round or football-like shape and allow it to dry.
- A small bunch of gray rags or fabric strips tied together with twine also works. Add some fake insects or paint dark speckles on it.
- Place decoy nests away from areas of human activity, like patios or doorways. Wasps will avoid nesting where they detect predators.
- Hang nests in eaves, trees, sheds, or other semi-sheltered spots a good distance from the house. This draws them away.
- Install decoys in early spring before nest-building begins. The decoy scent deters them from building nests nearby.
- Replace decoys every 2-3 months as they degrade. A fresh decoy smells stronger to wasps.
- You can sprinkle a few drops of wasp repellent like mint oil on the decoy. The scent helps deter them.
- Use 3-5 decoy nests around the perimeter of your yard for best results. More decoys increase the chance of diverting wasps.
- The goal is to make the decoy nest more enticing to wasps than your house! Place and maintain them early before wasps select nest sites.
We hope this article has provided some helpful tips for safely removing wasp nests around your home. Dealing with wasps can be frustrating, but there are effective methods to get rid of them without putting yourself in harm’s way. We recommend calling on a professional pest control service for large infestations, as they have the proper protective gear and experience to remove the nests efficiently. Our team has been managing wasp problems in California homes and businesses for over 20 years. If you suspect a wasp issue on your property, don’t hesitate to contact us. We serve customers throughout the state to eliminate wasp nests in the safest, most effective way possible. Your peace of mind is our top priority.