If you’ve ever had to deal with a wasp infestation, you know how unpleasant and potentially dangerous it can be.
Wasps are aggressive insects that can sting multiple times, causing pain and swelling. They can also pose a serious threat to people with allergies. In fact, there were 1,109 deaths from hornet, wasp, and bee stings between 2000 and 2017, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While wasps are an important part of the ecosystem, they can become a nuisance when they build nests in and around our homes.
In this article, we will discuss effective ways to get rid of wasps, both inside and outside of your home. From preventative measures to safe removal techniques, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your property free from these pesky insects including the most common wasp species!
So, whether you’re dealing with a current infestation or simply looking to prevent future ones, read on to learn how to get rid of wasps for good.
How to Know You Have A Wasp Infestation
Early intervention is typically far more effective in eliminating wasp infestations. Be on the lookout for these signs of wasp activity in your yard and within your home.
Increased Wasp Activity
An increase in wasp activity is one of the most noticeable signs of a wasp infestation. If you see a large number of wasps flying around your property, particularly in a concentrated area, it could indicate that there is a nest nearby.
Wasps are most active during the daytime, so you’re likely to see them flying around during this time. If you notice a lot of wasps swarming around a particular area, such as a tree or a bush, it’s important to stay away from that area and call a professional pest control company to handle the situation.
Wasps build their nests in sheltered areas, such as eaves, porches, attics, and trees. They tend to prefer areas that are protected from the elements and provide cover from predators. If you notice a nest or several nests around your property, it’s likely that there is a wasp infestation.
Wasp nests can vary in size and shape depending on the species of wasp, but they generally look like papery structures that hang from a branch or structure.
Several wasp species use wood fibers to construct their homes, unlike some wasp species, such as mud daubers, which use soil or clay. Wasps may remove these wood fibers from trees, fences, and garden stakes around your home. This is particularly common if you have wooden structures or furniture around your property.
Watch out for any traces of chewed wood on your property as this could be a clue that wasps are present. However, it’s worth noting that tunnels and chewing marks can also be signs of other common household pests, like termites and ants.
Piles of Dead Insects
Wasps feed on other insects, so if you notice a pile of dead insects around your property, it could indicate that wasps are hunting in the area. You may notice dead flies, bees, or other insects in a pile near a nest or other areas where wasps are present.
If wasps feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed, they can become aggressive and sting repeatedly. If you notice wasps attacking you or others, it’s important to move away from the area and to call a professional pest control company.
Wasps can be dangerous, and attempting to remove a nest or deal with the situation yourself can result in serious injury. It’s best to let the professionals handle the situation safely and effectively.
Top 5 Things That Attract Wasps to Your Yard
Wasps are attracted to a variety of things in your yard. Understanding what attracts them can help you take steps to reduce the likelihood of an infestation. Here are some common things that may attract wasps to your yard:
1. Food Sources
Wasps are attracted to food, particularly sugary and high-protein foods. If you have open food containers or spills around your yard, wasps may be attracted to the area. This includes pet food, fruit trees, and open trash cans. It’s important to keep your yard clean and free of food debris.
Like many insects, wasps need water to survive. If you have standing water in your yard, such as in bird baths or ponds, wasps may be attracted to the area. It’s important to change out bird baths regularly and to fix any leaks in outdoor plumbing to prevent standing water.
Wasps need shelter to build their nests and protect their young. If you have areas of your yard that provide shelter, such as eaves, attics, or sheds, wasps may be attracted to the area. It’s important to seal up any openings in your home or other structures to prevent wasps from nesting.
4. Bright Colors
Wasps are attracted to bright colors, particularly yellow and white. If you have bright-colored outdoor furniture or decorations, wasps may be drawn to the area. It’s best to use muted colors in your yard to reduce the likelihood of attracting wasps.
Wasps are attracted to flowers, particularly those with a sweet scent. If you have flowering plants in your yard, wasps may be drawn to the area. It’s important to keep your landscaping trimmed and well-maintained to reduce the likelihood of attracting wasps. Plus, if you wear a strong perfume, they may be drawn to its scent as well.
Most Common Types of Wasps
Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, which are all related species, have painful stings and can be particularly dangerous for people that are allergic to them.
Wasps can still pose a threat to anyone who comes too close to their nest, even if you are not allergic to them. They will swarm out, often in large numbers, and sting anyone or anything nearby right away.
Some species of wasps are very aggressive, while others are less so. The mud dauber is one such species, and it preys on and consumes other pests such as spiders.
People can usually live with mud daubers as long as they are in a place where people and pets won’t bother them. They help keep the number of pests down.
Due to the wide variety of wasp behaviors, it is important to first determine the species you are dealing with. Let’s take a look at the four most common species you’ll find in the US:
1. Yellow Jackets
Yellow jackets are a type of social wasp that are known for their distinctive black and yellow striped bodies. They are typically about 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch in length, and their nests can contain hundreds or even thousands of wasps. Yellow jackets are more aggressive than other types of wasps and can sting repeatedly if they feel threatened.
Yellow jackets build their nests in a variety of locations, including in the ground, in trees, and under eaves or in attics. They are attracted to sweet foods and can become more aggressive in late summer and early fall as they search for food before the winter.
2. Mud Daubers
Mud daubers are a type of solitary wasp that are known for their distinctive nests, which are made out of mud.
They are typically black or metallic blue in color with bright yellow patterns on their thorax and legs and have long, slender bodies. Unlike yellow jackets, mud daubers are not aggressive and rarely sting humans.
Mud daubers build their nests in protected areas, such as under eaves, in attics, or on the sides of buildings. They are attracted to spiders and will often paralyze spiders and bring them back to their nests to feed their larvae.
Hornets are a wasp species that are closely related to yellow jackets. They are typically larger than yellow jackets and have a more robust body. Hornets can be aggressive if their nest is disturbed, and their sting can be painful.
Hornets build their nests in trees, bushes, and other elevated areas. They form hives by chewing wood into a pulpy paper-like substance and using it to build the walls. Most nests are made on tall trees or woody plants.
These wasps are sociable insects that rarely sting unless they feel threatened. However, when threatened, they will swarm.
4. Paper Wasps
Paper wasps get their name due to their unique nests, which are made of wood fiber obtained from plants and chewed to make paper-like, hexagonal chambers.
They are typically brown or reddish-brown in color and have a long, slender body with yellow to red markings. Paper wasps are generally not aggressive, but they will defend their nest if they feel threatened.
Paper wasps are common throughout the United States and build their nests in protected areas, such as under eaves, in trees, or near the shelter of buildings.
What’s the Difference Between Wasps and Bees?
Honey bees and wasps are two different types of flying insects that are often confused with one another. While they do have some similarities, there are also several key differences between these two insects.
Here are some of the main differences between honey bees and wasps:
Honey bees are typically rounder and fuzzier than wasps, with a distinctly striped brown and yellow or black and yellow color pattern. They have a longer, narrower abdomen, and the hind legs of female honey bees are typically flat and covered in dense hairs that are used for carrying pollen.
Wasps, on the other hand, are generally more slender with smooth, shiny bodies. They have a distinct waist that separates their thorax and abdomen, and they often have more muted coloration with black and yellow, black and white, or black and red stripes.
Honey bees are herbivorous and primarily feed on nectar and pollen from flowers. They play a crucial role in pollinating crops and plants, and their honey is an important food source for humans.
Wasps, on the other hand, are omnivorous and will feed on a variety of foods, including insects, fruit, and sugary substances like nectar and honey. Some species of wasps are even known to be predatory and will hunt and kill other insects to feed their young.
Both honey bees and wasps are capable of stinging, but their stingers are slightly different. Honey bees have a barbed stinger that is left behind in the skin of their victim, causing the bee to die shortly after stinging.
Wasps, on the other hand, have a smooth stinger that they can use repeatedly without harming themselves. While the sting of a honey bee can be painful, it is typically less aggressive than that of a wasp, which can be more painful and can cause a more severe reaction in some people.
How to Get Rid of Wasps In Your Yard
1. Remove Attractants
One of the most effective ways to prevent wasps from setting up a nest in your yard is to remove any attractants that might be drawing them in. This can include things like open garbage cans, uncovered food, and sweet-smelling plants or flowers. By reducing the availability of food and water sources, you can make your yard less appealing to wasps.
2. Set Up Wasp Traps
Another way to get rid of wasps in your yard is to set up traps. There are several types of traps available, including bait traps that use a sugary liquid or meat-based baits to lure wasps in, and light traps that use UV light to attract and trap them.
Place the traps in areas where wasps are most active, but away from areas where people are likely to spend time. While wasp traps are efficient, they collect dead wasps and can be unattractive. Make sure to hang them far from your outdoor living spaces and to replace them frequently.
3. Hang Wasp Deterrents
There are several types of wasp deterrents that can be hung around your yard to discourage wasps from building nests. These can include fake wasp nests, which are designed to look like an existing wasp nest and deter other wasps from entering the area, and decoy animals or birds, which can also help to scare off wasps.
4. Spray Wasp Nests
If you find an active wasp nest near your home or property, you should spray it with commercially available wasp nest spray. For the best results, put on protective clothing such as long sleeves and spray the nest late at night, when the wasps are sleeping and both the workers and the queen are there.
We recommend investing in a wasp spray with a long-range spraying nozzle. If necessary, spray the nest multiple times over the course of a few days.
5. Use a Soap and Water Mixture
If you don’t want to buy insecticides, you can use soap and water to get rid of small wasp nests. Spray the nests with a solution made from two tablespoons of dish soap and mixed water in a spray bottle. The wasps will die instantaneously as the mixture blocks their breathing pores.
6. Try a Homemade DIY Traps
Wasp traps can be built at home by removing the top from a large soda bottle and filling the bottom with a mixture of soda or fruit juice and liquid soap. Turn the trap upside down, put the top back on, and hang it in your yard.
7. Kill Individual Emerging Wasps
Individual wasps can be eliminated with store-bought wasp killer sprays. Following the instructions on the label of the insecticide you purchase, spray wasps as you spot them.
8. Treat Future Nesting Areas
You can treat potential nesting locations in addition to spraying already-existing nests. Buy residual liquid pesticides from your local home improvement or hardware store and spray them in areas where you suspect wasps would nest.
Examples of these areas include your deck, pool, patio, and wood fence. This prevents nest building in the future.
9. Call a Professional Pest Control Company
If the methods listed above are not successful in getting rid of wasps in your yard, you can call a professional pest control company. They will be able to provide a more thorough and effective solution to your wasp problem.
The pest control technicians will be able to identify the species of wasp in your yard, determine the best course of action, and provide you with a tailored solution to get rid of the pests for good. This is especially important if you have large outdoor wasp colonies that may be too dangerous to handle by yourself.
How to Get Rid of Wasps In the House
Spotting wasps indoors can be frightening. Here are five ways to get rid of wasps inside your home:
1. Identify the Nest
The first step in getting rid of wasps inside your home is to identify the location of the nest. While it may be that wasps are coming indoors through a wasp nest outside your home, it’s possible for them to build one inside your home too!
This may be easier said than done, as wasps can build nests in a variety of locations, including inside walls, in attics or basements, and in outdoor spaces like garages or sheds. Once you have located the nest, you can begin to plan your removal strategy.
2. Inspect Your Home for Entry Points
If you haven’t located a nest inside, then it’s possible that wasps are coming into your home from a nest outside. In that case, you need to inspect your home thoroughly to find entry points.
Even if you don’t leave your doors and windows open without a screen, wasps will find a way in through the smallest opening.
Check the eaves, the mortar between the brickwork, the beams and supports in the garage, and the areas around the vents.
These are the places where wasps like to establish their nests, and they can easily get inside your house through even the smallest crack. Seal any cracks or crevices with silicone caulk once you’ve identified their entry points.
3. Use Effective Home Remedies
If you want to get rid of wasps without chemicals, there are many home remedies you can try. Vinegar is an effective method for removing wasps.
Use two cups of apple cider vinegar, two cups of sugar, and one cup of water to make a DIY wasp repellant. Mix the mixture completely before placing it near the nest to attract and kill wasps.
4. Spray the Wasp Nests
Wasp sprays work well to instantly kill wasps but you need to be careful while using them indoors. This is because these sprays contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health, as well as the health of your kids and pets.
Spraying the nest may be a good option if it is in an area of your house that is rarely used. If not, it would be best to contact a pest control expert.
5. Call a Professional Pest Control Company
If you still have problems with wasps in your yard after trying these methods, it may be time to call in the pros. They will be able to offer a more comprehensive and efficient solution to your wasp infestation.
The exterminators will inspect your home, determine which type of wasps are causing problems, and then create a custom plan to eliminate them.
How to Get Rid of Wasp Nests
Wasp nest removal may look easy, but it’s actually rather difficult since angry wasps can swarm and sting if their nest is disturbed.
If you want to eradicate a wasp nest safely and effectively, you should always wait at least 24 hours after spraying the nest with commercial wasp killer. Spray the nest once again if you still detect evidence of wasp activity.
Before attempting to remove the nest, it is important to wear protective clothing to avoid getting stung. Wear long sleeves and pants, gloves, and a hat to cover your head and face.
Once the insecticide has had time to take effect, you can attempt to remove the nest. Carefully cut the nest down using a long stick or pole, and place it in a heavy-duty plastic bag for disposal.
Make sure to properly dispose of the nest in an outdoor trash can with a tight-fitting lid.
If you are unsure of how to safely remove a wasp nest, or if the nest is located in a hard-to-reach area, it may be best to call a professional pest control company. They have the equipment and expertise to safely remove the nest and can advise you on ways to prevent future infestations.
How to Prevent Wasps and Keep Them Away
Preventing future wasp infestations is essential to keep your yard and home free from these dangerous pests. Here are some steps you can take to prevent future wasp infestations:
- Seal Up Cracks and Holes: Inspect the exterior of your home and seal up any cracks or holes where wasps could enter. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal gaps around doors and windows, and cover vents and chimneys with mesh screens.
- Keep Food and Garbage Covered: Wasps are attracted to sweet and sugary substances, so it is important to keep food and garbage covered. Use tightly sealed containers for trash and recycling, and clean up spills and crumbs immediately.
- Trim Your Landscaping: Keep your landscaping trimmed and well-maintained. Wasps are attracted to overgrown shrubs, trees, and other vegetation, so regularly pruning and trimming your landscaping can help prevent infestations.
- Remove Nesting Sites: Regularly inspect your property for potential nesting sites, such as tree branches, eaves, and overhangs.
- Use Natural Repellents: There are several natural repellents that can help deter wasps from your yard. These include planting herbs and flowers such as peppermint, thyme, rosemary, clove, sage, eucalyptus, and geranium which have strong scents that wasps dislike.
- Apply Essential Oils: Certain essential oils, such as clove, lemongrass, geranium, and peppermint oil, are known to repel wasps. You can mix a few drops of these oils with water and spray the mixture around your yard to deter wasps from entering your yard or home. Be sure to reapply the spray every few days to maintain its effectiveness.
- Regularly Inspect for Nests: It is impossible to completely eradicate wasps, so you must be alert for nest formation. Check your wall cavities, sheds, and garages for new nests every spring. As soon as you see them, spray them with insecticide and remove the nest shell.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.