Wasps are pesky creatures that will buzz around your house like they pay the mortgage. It’s not just the angry and irritating buzzing sounds they make that can be nerve-racking but the danger of being stung, which is much greater in people who are allergic.
People don’t often know if they have an allergy to a wasp sting until they are stung, though there are allergy tests a healthcare provider can administer. However, to avoid unpleasant and potentially life-threatening experiences, you may just want to get these creatures as far from you as possible. In the event that wasps build a nest on or near your home, this means nest removal. If you or a family member are allergic, it’s safest to call a pest control expert or exterminator rather than trying to remove a nest yourself.
For some people, a wasp nest isn’t really a bother. But if you think you are better off without these creatures, we’ll lead you through steps for an easy wasp nest removal.
Strategize and stay safe
Remember, if you are allergic, don’t attempt to remove a wasp nest yourself. If you aren’t sure if you’re allergic, get an allergy test done to be safe.
- Call your vector control agency
Vector control agencies may not be available in your area. As their name suggests, they typically deal with pests that can spread disease. However, such an agency will usually have information about non-vector insects within your area, including wasps. They may be able to give you professional advice on how to handle the situation and, in some places, might go as far as offering professional assistance.
- No vector control? Try pest control services or an exterminator
If your area lacks a vector control agency or they don’t provide wasp and/or residential services, a pest control company or an exterminator may be a better option. It is usually better to leave nest removal to experts, especially if you are dealing with yellow jackets that nest in the ground or nests hidden inside buildings.
- Not a threat? Leave it!
We don’t think you should bother with a wasp nest if it doesn’t pose a threat to you, your family, or your pets. If it is far from your home then you should leave it alone. Many wasps are pollinators or predators of other pest insects and as such are good to have around.
You may even discover that the nest was actually made by bees. With widespread declines in bee populations, it’s best to preserve what is left of them. If you do have a bees’ nest that needs to be removed, you can call a beekeeper or a pest control company that has a policy of safely removing bees.
- What kind of nest are you dealing with?
The professional organizations in your area will probably have more information about local insects than anyone else. However, there are 3 major types of wasp that you are likely to be dealing with: hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets. These are social wasps, which build large communal – often conspicuous – nests.
Paper wasps often build nests that look like umbrellas turned upside down especially in covered areas like the end of a pipe or the eaves of a building. They are not aggressive and sting only when threatened (or feel so), though their stings are painful and potentially dangerous.
Yellow jackets build paper-like nests in cavities or voids in the ground. They aggressively defend their nests but are not typically aggressive when foraging. Yellow jackets defending their nests often attack in a swarm and can sting multiple times.
Hornets usually build nests in wall cavities and tree trunks. The most common is the bald-faced hornet, which features white marks on its thorax and head. Hornets tend to be less aggressive than yellow jackets and paper wasps but have a very painful sting.
- Wear protective clothing
Even if you aren’t allergic, a wasp sting can be really painful. So, you should always have protective clothing on. Wear long socks, jeans, boots, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt. A jacket with a hood will provide head protection. You should protect your face with a scarf over the lower part of your face along with a pair of protective goggles or glasses. If using pesticides, be sure to wash your clothes in their own separate load as soon as you’re done.
- No ladders, please!
The risk of being stung during wasp nest removal is great enough without adding a ladder to the mix. You can easily fall off the ladder if you are startled or stung, leading to serious injury or death. If the nest would require a ladder to reach, it is not a do-it-yourself kind of situation.
Other safety measures include:
- If using pesticides, ensure there are no pets or kids around. Pick up dead wasps that fall to the ground or a pet or wild animal may ingest the insecticide when eating the dead insects.
- Deal with the nests very early in the season. This is when the nests are smallest and their occupants are least aggressive. If you wait until fall, you may as well leave it as the wasps will die when the weather gets cold anyway.
- Destroy the nest early in the morning or at night because wasps are less active at those times. Don’t use a flashlight or you may attract the wasps.
- Map out your escape route before you remove the nest in case they come for you and ensure that there are no obstacles in your way. If the wasp nest is located in a high-traffic area, be sure to warn family members when you will be treating it so they know to stay away.
Destroy the Nest
So, how do you remove a nest?
- Use a pesticide
It’s best to use an aerosol spray so that you can remain a safe distance from the nest. Make sure to get one that is specially formulated to kill wasps. Something for smaller insects may be ineffective.
Monitor the nest for a day or so to ensure it is empty. Once the wasps have been killed, you can then use a stick to knock down the nest.
- Insecticidal dust
Insecticidal dusts will come in handy when dealing with ground nests like those belonging to yellow jackets. Apply it to the entrance of the nest. This dust is more effective than the sprays as wasps will get some of the dust on their wings and legs as they go in, carrying it throughout the nest. It typically takes one to two days for a dusted ground nest to die off.
- Alternatives to pesticides
You can also make a solution of equal parts dish soap and water. Shake it thoroughly until it becomes sudsy and pour directly into ground nests or put it into a bottle with hose-end sprayer and target the entrance of aerial nests with a powerful stream of the soap solution. Pre-formulated insecticidal soaps also work.
Note that any soap solution must come in direct contact with a wasp for it to die.