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How To Get Rid of Wasps

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 04/19/2024

Wasps can be beneficial to a garden, as they kill other insects for food and pollinate plants. However, they’ll quickly turn into a problem if they become aggressive or build their nests near your home’s entry points. A wasp’s sting is usually more annoying and painful than dangerous, but in rare cases, it can cause deadly allergic reactions. We’ll show you how to get rid of wasps and their nests and answer some common questions about wasp control.

Check out the video below to learn about how to get rid of wasps and eliminate pest problems inside and outside your home.


DIY Solutions To Get Rid of Wasps

If you want to try your hand at wasp extermination, follow these steps to get rid of wasps safely and effectively.

Identify the Problem

Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are all considered nuisance insects. You can try to exterminate them in similar ways, but it’s useful to determine which wasp species you’re dealing with to know what to expect. For example, paper wasps can be eliminated in the daytime, whereas hornets and yellow jackets are notoriously aggressive and should be approached with treatment only at night.

Paper WaspBaldfaced HornetYellowjacket
ColorBrown, rust-colored, may have yellowish markingsBlack with white markingsYellow with black lines or spots
Length1/2″–1″7/8″3/8″–5/8″
Distinguishing featuresThin waistWhite “bald” headWings fold up when at rest
NestUmbrella-shaped, no protective envelopeFootball- or pear-shaped, protective envelopeFootball-shaped, protective envelope; may nest in the ground
BehaviorNot aggressive unless nest is disturbedLess active at night, aggressive when disturbedUnpredictable and aggressive

Take Precautions

Before you attempt to take on a wasp nest yourself, protect yourself from these stinging insects with the following safety precautions:

  • Wear a hat, gloves, and long sleeves and consider using eye protection.
  • Avoid wearing perfume, since wasps are drawn to strong scents.
  • Treat the nests in the evening or at night when the worker drones are inside and nest activity is low.
  • Locate yourself upwind of the nest. Don’t stand directly under it.
This Old House Tip
If you’re attempting to remove wasps from your property, have at least one other person around in case of a medical emergency. This is unlikely, but it’s a good idea to be prepared, especially if you don’t know whether you’re allergic to a sting. If you are stung and you experience any allergic symptoms, particularly trouble breathing or swallowing, seek medical attention immediately.

Use the Appropriate Insecticide

Insecticides designed to kill wasps or hornets come in the form of aerosol sprays, dusts, and residual liquids. These treatments should be applied to the nest, not individual insects, as this will be ineffective. Sprays and concentrated liquids are usually a good first line of defense to knock out a current infestation, and applying dust afterward can keep wasps from coming back.

Many aerosol sprays have a surprisingly long range, so you won’t have to stand close to a nest to use them. Always make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions on the package to use the insecticide properly.


How To Get Rid of Wasp Nests

How To Prevent Wasps

Removing an untreated wasp nest usually won’t solve the problem, as the wasps will simply build a new one. Your best bet is to kill the wasps first with insecticide and then remove the nest. Even after you’ve eliminated the bulk of the wasps, it’s best to approach the nest as though it’s still populated, remembering to protect your skin and work at night.

If the nest is located in your house or in the ground, contact a pest control provider and don’t try to remove it yourself. Here are some other “don’ts” when it comes to removing wasp nests:

Don’t try to knock the nest down with an object. Safely remove it by hand.
Don’t burn the nest—the fire could spread.
Don’t spray the nest with a hose.
Don’t tear the paper envelope of the nest.
Don’t try to seal a live nest inside an interior wall.

Once you’ve removed any wasps around your property, ensure they don’t come back by taking the following steps:

Remove food sources and any exposed garbage. Seal all trash cans and recycling bins.
Seal cracks and crevices that could allow wasps inside your home.
Fill any lawn or garden holes with soil.
Place wasp traps around your yard to kill scout drones before they can establish a new nest.

Conclusion

Wasp stings can be quite painful, so if you don’t want to risk getting stung—or you’ve tried the DIY route and it hasn’t worked—call a professional pest control provider. These experts will have the proper materials and protective equipment to get rid of wasps quickly and safely.


FAQ About Wasp Removal

What’s the difference between a wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket?

Hornets and yellow jackets are two types of wasps. Here’s how to tell them apart:

  • Hornets have broader bodies than other types of wasps. They may be black with gray or white bands or yellow, brown, and black. They build gray, pear-shaped nests with an opening at the bottom.
  • Yellow jackets have jagged yellow and black stripes on their bodies. They tend to nest underground, and they’ll often become aggressive if provoked.
  • European paper wasps are sometimes confused for yellow jackets. They build open nests with hexagonal shapes that can be seen from the outside.

What are some natural wasp repellents?

Although you’ll probably need synthetic insecticides to get rid of wasps, you can employ some natural solutions to keep them away. Plants like citronella, spearmint, marigolds, and geraniums are all thought to be wasp deterrents. Additionally, essential oils such as peppermint, clove, geranium, and lemongrass may have some effect when sprayed on places where wasp nests used to remain. A 2012 study backs up the repellent effects of these oils on yellow jackets.

Do dryer sheets repel wasps?

Unfortunately, this viral internet trend doesn’t have any evidence to back it up. According to expert naturalists at the Entomological Society of America, dryer sheets’ effect on repelling wasps hasn’t been studied and it’s uncertain what feature of the dryer sheet would have a repellent effect.


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