Mosquitoes flying around

How To Remove A Wasp’s Nest Safely

January 26, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Wasps are well-known for their propensity to swarm and their painful stings when their nests are disturbed. Yellowjackets and hornets are the most commonly known social wasps, living in large colonies and swarms. However, most other wasps are solitary and build nests for only themselves. 

With all these differences among wasp species, it may be hard to identify a wasp’s nest from another insect’s. If you do come across a wasp’s nest in or around your home, chances are you’ll want to get rid of it to prevent any run-ins with the more aggressive types of these insects. Learn more about how to identify wasp’s nests, how to prevent them from creating nests in your yard, and how to get rid of one if you do find it.

What does a wasp’s nest look like?

The most recognizable wasp nests are those made of thin, tissue-like paper. Unlike their relatives, the honeybees, who make their nests from a waxy substance, wasps chew up small pieces of wood, creating a pulp that dries into a fine paper that they use to create their homes. It’s very similar to how we still make paper for human use!

This delicate paper is then layered into a round or oval shape with a hole at the bottom that the wasps use for getting in and out of their nests. Social wasp colonies build nests that can be quite large to accommodate their numbers, while solitary wasp nests tend to be much smaller.

Another type of wasp, the mud dauber, builds its nest out of mud, but it still has the characteristic small entry hole. These mud nests are most commonly found between rocks or underground, which can be very startling if stepped on by an unsuspecting passerby.

wasp's nest under a roof

How to prevent wasp nests

The best way to keep wasps from building their nests on or in your home is to make sure that the exterior of your home is completely sealed. Wasps will often get into the walls of your home through a gap from the outside and build their nests in the void between the exterior and interior of your home. If all gaps are sealed, wasps won’t be able to find that cozy shelter to use to set up and protect their nest.

You may also want to put screens up in your vents and chimneys and cover your trash cans. Wasps also like to go into these small, smelly spaces and build nests too. 

There are several wasp-repelling plants or scents you can use around your home to try and deter wasps from setting up camp. These include:

  • Wormwood plants
  • Marigold flowers 
  • Mint plants 
  • Basil plants 
  • Pennyroyal flowers 
  • Geranium flowers
  • Clove essential oils
  • Peppermint essential oils
  • Lemongrass essential oils

How to remove wasp nests safely

There are a few different methods to remove a wasp nest by yourself and stay safe from stings. That being said, if the nest that you want to remove is in a high or awkward location, it’s always best to call a pest control professional. The last thing you want is to be standing on a ladder when a colony of wasps swarms you, since the potential for an injury is twofold in this situation. 

Social wasps, when threatened, emit a pheromone that brings their colony mates running—and ready for a fight. This is why it’s always best to remove a wasp nest in the early dawn hours or at night when all the wasps are in their nest but not active. 

Since wasps can be a helpful insect overall, if the nest is in a place that’s not causing a disturbance to you, it’s best to leave it alone. The inhabitants will die off in the fall and winter months, and then you can safely remove the nest to prevent another colony from building on top of it in the spring.

Pest control specialist removing a wasp nest

Before we get into removal methods, there are a few things that are important to do first to be safe:

  1. Do an allergy test: Unless you’re sure you’re not allergic to wasp stings, always check with an allergist  before you attempt to remove a nest in case there’s an accidental sting.
  2. Cover up: Bug netting that covers your face and body is best, but at the very least, you should make sure you’re wearing long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. It’s also best to tuck your pants into your socks.
  3. Make sure there are no kids or pets nearby: Get everyone in the house in case the wasps are more active than you think they’ll be.

Here are the best ways to safely remove a wasp’s nest:

  1. Aerosol pesticide: Approach the nest during the recommended times and spray according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Smoke: If you have a portable fire pit, smoke from a campfire can be effective to kill a wasp nest that’s hanging from a tree branch – just make sure your fire is a safe distance from the tree!
  3. Garbage bag and a tub of water: Carefully place the bag over the nest, quickly seal it shut and then double-bag it. Submerge the bag into a tub of water that’s ready, and once it’s fully submerged, poke holes in the bag to drown the wasps.

Wasps are a species that are beneficial to the ecosystem, helping farmers to control crop pests and keeping other pest populations in check. Despite their overall helpful nature, finding a nest close to your home or in your yard poses a potential health hazard, especially if someone in your home is allergic to their sting. Safely removing wasp nests or enlisting the help of a professional pest service like Hawx Pest Control will help to keep your family safe from stings.

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