About fake wasp and hornet nests
Fake wasp and hornet nests are a strange product to try to evaluate. They work on the idea that most wasp species are very territorial and will avoid already established nests by other wasps in fear of unnecessary conflict. That idea seems to hold up in both concept and practice, but only for very specific species of wasps.
There are many wasp species that establish above-ground nests. For such species, setting a fake wasp nest early in the season should deter them from making a real nest on your property. However, their effectiveness has not been scientifically evaluated, so this strategy is not a guarantee.
Some species may be unconcerned by the presence of other wasps, especially of a different species. Paper wasps, for example, are not very defensive of their nests. Others, like the cicada killer wasp, will fiercely defend their territory from anything that gets too close, including birds and thrown rocks.
However, it should be noted that cicada killers are ground-nesting wasps and their territories can be as small as 4 feet by 4 feet. Yellowjackets are a good candidate for decoy nest deterrence. They are highly territorial, some nest above-ground, and they make new nests every year, so there is no danger of them setting up shop in your fake nest . Bald-faced hornets also protect their aerial nests from intruders that get too close (within a few feet) and build a new nest each year.
To determine whether a fake wasp or hornet nest will work for you, make sure that you know what type of wasps you’re dealing with.
If you can capture several wasps with a standard wasp trap and identify them before they build a nest, you can find out whether they are territorial and what kind of nest they build.
However, if you already have a colony of wasps, setting up a fake nest won’t encourage them to move. Building a nest is a lot of work and is often quickly followed by producing the next generation. They will not abandon their offspring because it is likely too late to start over.
Fake wasp and hornet nest buying guide
If you’re at least relatively certain that a fake hornet nest is a good solution for your wasp problem, the next step is to make sure that you buy the right nest for your situation.
Most commercial fake nests resemble hornet nests – they are grey and cone-shaped. Most wasps have a low-resolution vision, but it is good enough to make out a familiar shape. This is why fake nests work best against wasps that make visually similar nests.
Some species of paper wasps have very good eyesight and can recognize the faces of other wasps in their colony. However, they still rely on familiarity and learning to recognize objects in their environment. An unusual shape is unlikely to deter them from making a home nearby.
There are, however, other factors to consider before making a purchase:
- How many nests are you going to need? Many manufacturers overestimate the effective radius of their fake hornet nests. Some even claim their nests maintain a wasp-free radius of hundreds of feet. That’s likely an exaggeration. Even the very aggressive cicada killer wasp has a maximum territory of about 16 feet by 6 feet. Bald-faced hornets and yellow jackets don’t like other animals within a few feet of their nest. Paper wasps (the less aggressive group) can sense movement up to 20 feet away, but only attack animals that approach within a few inches. A study of solitary ground-nesting wasps found nests within 2 meters (6 feet) of each other. On the other hand, an aerially-nesting wasp, Vespa vetulina, was found to nest a minimum of 1.5 km from another nest, while common wasps (Vespula vulgaris) are comfortable within 250 meters of another colony.This way, you may be able to prevent more than one type of wasp from nesting near your home. Even wasps with small territories probably won’t want to nest within a group of established wasp colonies
Depending on the type of wasp you’re trying to prevent, the effective radius of a fake nest could be anywhere from a few feet to a kilometre or more. For best results, if you have a large property, you should install multiple fake nests within about 30-40 feet of each other.
- The durability of the nest. Fake hornet nests are usually paper. This helps them better resemble actual hornet nests and it’s a cheap material. Paper isn’t really that weather resistant, however, so it’s important to assess seasonal weather patterns in your area to determine the level of durability a fake nest will need in order to survive the spring and summer. We recommend taking them down in the winter as they’re not doing anything and this might extend their useful life.
- The ease of the installation process. Some nests have a frame that maintains their shape. Others need to be filled with air or otherwise expanded. Still others need to be stuffed with something to retain their volume. Some come with hooks or string hoops while others are harder to attach.
- The price of the nest. Fake hornet nests are rarely expensive. However, if you need to buy multiples every year then you should make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
- Read as many authentic reviews as possible. As mentioned, fake hornet nests haven’t been scientifically tested. Much of the praise tends to come from the manufacturers themselves so it’s important to make sure that any product you’re about to buy has been tried and tested by actual consumers and has received mostly positive reviews.
Usage tips for fake wasp and hornet nests
The effectiveness of any insect pest prevention method largely depends on how it’s used. The best products, from rodent traps to bug bombs, can be completely ineffective if used improperly. The same goes for fake hornet nests.
So, here are some basic usage tips for fake wasp and hornet nests:
- Install enough fake hornet nests to cover the area you wish to remain wasp-free. As mentioned, a distance of about 30-40 feet between each fake nest should deter more than one type of wasp.
- Install the hornet nests in the early spring. Wasp queens emerge from hibernation and start looking for new locations to settle in as soon as the weather starts to warm up. Do not delay installing your fake nests in the spring. If a wasp colony has already been established on your property – and they are start small, so you might miss them – they aren’t going to leave when a fake nests pops up.
- Keep the rest of your property well sanitized at all times. If your property offers enough food sources and suitable nesting locations, then wasps will be more likely to settle there than another location. This incentive may be significant enough that will ignore the risk of a conflict with an established group of wasps.
Fake wasp and hornet nests are a complicated product to use. They don’t work against all wasp types. Furthermore, their effectiveness isn’t supported by science.
Their usefulness is based purely on knowledge of wasp territoriality and anecdotal records. However, anecdotal evidence exists. Consumers have had success using fake wasp nests and they are a kinder, more environmentally friendly alternative to insecticides. As with most pest prevention methods, proper use and location are highly important.