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How To Get Rid of Wasps [DIY Guide]

Wasps are a species of insect that comes in many different varieties and are spread out across the United States. Of these varieties, yellowjackets and paper wasps are the most common to cause pest problems to homeowners during the warm months of the year. Since wasps can be dangerous, how can you get rid of wasps safely and effectively?

To get rid of wasps, you must first find the nearby nest and then use a treatment product to destroy the entire nest colony. Pesticide foams and residual pesticides work best to apply to a wasp nest since the chemicals will continue killing all wasps for hours and days at a time. 

Are you currently being inundated with nuisance wasps in your yard, around your porch, or even inside your home? In this guide, we will address all the problems that wasps cause homeowners, in addition to steps to take to remove and prevent wasp nests in your yard. Read on to find out more about these tips as well as the best-recommended products to get rid of wasps. 

About Wasps

There are over 4,000 species of wasp in the United States alone but it is easier to highlight the three most common types that homeowners see each year: paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets, including the bald-faced hornet. 

Both paper wasps and yellowjackets are typically black and yellow in color, with paper wasps being longer and less stocky in appearance when compared to the yellowjacket. 

Both species are roughly ¾ to 1-inch in total length, and both species can be very aggressive when their nest is threatened. 

Hornets are typically black with white stripes and are about the same size as paper wasps and yellowjackets. Hornets can be easily triggered into aggressiveness, and often just walking too close to a hornet can pose a risk. 

Where Do Wasps Build Their Nests?

Each of the most common species of wasp builds nests that are typically suspended from tree branches or high-up structures that provide a cover over the nest such as corners or porch eaves or underneath the top portions of structures in a lawn. 

All wasp species are attracted to outdoor garbage cans as well as any meat or sugary substances that may get spilled outdoors, which is common during the warmer summer months. 

Wasps nest above door.

For this reason, wasps will typically choose to build their nests as near to humans as possible to take advantage of these easy food sources.  

The yellow jacket is slightly different. This wasp species is highly versatile in terms of nest locations. A yellowjacket nest can be located underground and spotted by the presence of nickel-sized entry and exit holes, inside of logs or rotted trees, in sheds, attics, or basements, and suspended from trees or eaves of structures just like paper wasps and hornets. 

In extreme circumstances, some wasps have been known to build their nests behind walls inside of homes, or even out in the open in basements, attics, laundry rooms, sometimes even bathrooms.

Wasp Behavior

Nearly all of the wasps in the US that become nuisance pests can sting and nearly all have venom that is injected through the stinger. Unlike bees, wasps can continuously sting a person or animal since the insects do not lose their stingers. 

A queen wasp will typically start a new nest in early spring, and by early autumn, the nest can be the size of a large watermelon with thousands of worker wasps inside. If you live in areas with very mild winters, a nest can remain active the entire year. 

Due to the colony structure of a wasp nest as well as the extreme aggressiveness of these insects, treatment procedures against wasps should always be aimed at attacking a nest instead of trying to eliminate foraging wasps. 

The most common instance where humans are stung by wasps comes down to territory. If you are near a nest or if you interfere with food gathering, you can expect a wasp to try and sting you. If the wasp lands on your skin or nearby, do not make sudden movements and remain calm as if the insect is not even bothering you. 

Wasps can also tend to become more aggressive in the period right before cold weather sets in. This is when a colony starts to die off and wasps are in panic mode. 

Flowers and plants begin to die which sends the wasps on foraging hunts to scavenge through trash bins and outdoor areas to find food sources to bring to the queen so she can remain healthy and fertilize eggs for the dormant winter season. 

Hornets are perhaps the most aggressive of all the common wasp species during this time. Worker males will sting moving objects simply at random, and can easily sting through clothing or protective gear.  

It is best to avoid wasps at all costs, but this is not easy when you apply treatments to eliminate the pests. In the next section, we will go through some important steps when preparing to treat wasps. 

4 Steps to Eliminate Wasps

Before we get into the best treatments for wasps, let’s go through some important steps to take to ensure you are not stung and a nest is thoroughly destroyed. 

Step 1: Determine the Species

This may not seem like an important step to take, but it is important to know how to approach a wasp species based on the aggressiveness and behavior of the species. 

For example, paper wasps and yellow jackets look very similar, but the yellow jacket is much more aggressive than the paper wasp. A yellowjacket can chase you for long distances from the nest, whereas a paper wasp will typically only secure the area around the nest. 

If you are dealing with yellow jackets or hornets, especially bald-faced hornets, you will need to be extra-cautious when treating these wasp species. The yellowjacket alone has been responsible for numerous hospitalizations over the years, and each case is almost always due to nest disturbance. 

Step 2: Locate the Nest

If you truly want to eliminate a wasp problem, you have to find and destroy the entire colony inside of the nest. 

If you see wasps swarming in the air, or if a wasp lands near you, chances are, the nest is not far away, likely within 25 to 50 feet of where you see the wasps. You can slowly follow the wasps to see where they return to, and in the case of a yellowjacket, this could be a hole in the ground. 

Apart from this step, familiarize yourself with the most common places to find a wasp nest. Check under the eaves of your porch or all along the eaves of the house. 

Look around at all tree branches in your yard or try and find hollow cavities inside of trees or bushes. A paper wasp nest may be small to medium-sized and have distinctive honeycomb-like shapes along the bottom of the nest. 

A hornet nest will be circular and have an appearance similar to a top-spinner. The texture will look like paper mache and have a large hole at the bottom of the sphere. 

Sometimes, yellowjackets will choose to build their nest underground. Underground nests can be found practically anywhere, but areas of dirt or soil are the most common since the wasps do not have to work as hard to burrow through the grass. 

You can inspect the ground in your yard for nickel-sized entry and exit holes, and if you ever see yellowjackets flying around these areas or going in and out of a hole, you have likely found an underground nest. 

The yellowjacket may also build its nest above ground in the same areas that paper wasps and hornets choose to build their nest. An above-ground yellowjacket nest can resemble a paper wasp or hornet nest. 

Step 3: Wear Safety Gear

When treating wasps, be sure to wear as much protective clothing and gear as you can. Make sure no skin is exposed, and the thicker your clothes, the better. 

Wear goggles and a face mask, and it may even be helpful to wear a sack over your head with cutouts in the sack so you can see. 

Step 4: Apply the Right Products

Obviously, it will do you no favors to attempt to destroy a wasp nest with only contact aerosol sprays. This will more than likely cause you to get stung and will not penetrate deep into the nest to destroy the colony. 

A powerful residual spray pesticide or a foam residual pesticide is the best treatment to apply to a wasp nest. The trick is to thoroughly drench or cover the entire nest with the chemical so the wasps will become exposed to the chemical either through inhalation or by crawling through it inside of the nest. 

Treatments for Wasps

When treating wasps, there are four main applications you can consider: sprays, foams, dust, and some natural methods. 

Here are the best products and recommended procedures for each category. 

Spray Pesticides

Using a powerful liquid insecticide for a wasp nest can be very effective but also a bit risky. Spray insecticides can saturate a nest with powerful residual chemicals to ensure the long-term elimination of the nest. If you use a spray chemical, be prepared to act and move quickly to avoid being stung. 

Talstar P Professional Insecticide

Talstar P Professional Insecticide Gallon
Active Ingredient: Bifenthrin 7.9%

Talstar has a long residual, so it keeps on killing pests for over three months after you’ve sprayed it. Plus, Talstar One is odorless, dries clear, leaves no stains, is non-irritating to the skin, and won’t break down easily with rainfall.

Why DoMyOwn?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Talstar has a long residual, so it keeps on killing wasps and preventing re-colonization of a nest for over three months after you’ve sprayed it. Plus, this product is odorless, dries clear, leaves no stains, is non-irritating to the skin, and won’t break down easily with rainfall.

This insecticide contains bifenthrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. Bifenthrin works by disrupting a wasp’s nervous system causing a weakened state followed by death. 

You will want to work as quickly as possible when spraying down a wasp nest since the liquid will immediately trigger the insects. Be sure to mix the concentrate into a one-gallon sprayer to ensure rapid saturation of a wasp nest. 

Pros:

  • Strong residual to ensure prolonged chemical exposure to surviving wasps
  • Treats up to 1,000 square feet

Cons:

  • Effective for killing wasps but not the most ideal application procedure

Foam Pesticides

Foam insecticides also earn high marks for overall safety when effectively treating wasps. There are many products that will use an aerosol foam concentration with a long spray reach of upwards of 15 to 20 feet in distance to keep you safe from swarms. 

D Foam Insecticide

D-Foam Insecticide
Active Ingredient: Deltamethrin 0.06%

D-Foam has an expansion ration of 60:1 which reaches even the deepest voids, while using the smallest amount of product. Not only does D-Foam protect against wood destroying insects, it also provides protection of ants, wasps, cockroaches, and many other insects listed on the product label.

Why DoMyOwn?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

D Foam Insecticide will kill wasps for up to 8 weeks, which will permanently destroy the nest and prevent re-infestation. This foam expands quickly at a rate of 60:1, which means an entire nest can be covered completely in as few as 5 to 10 seconds. 

It knocks down wasps so quickly that they do not have time to release their stinging pheromones, which in turn reduces the possibility of being stung. The main chemical in this product is deltamethrin, which is one of the preferred chemicals for killing wasps on contact. 

To use this foam, align the nozzle valve opening directly opposite the mark on the valve cup. Press down on the actuator and apply, using a sweeping motion, contacting any stimulated or stirred-up wasps around the nest opening. Then move forward to the nest opening and apply for 6 – 8 sec directly onto the nest.

The chemical is so strong that the wasps will typically die within seconds of exposure and the residual effect will continue destroying the entire nest up to days after application. 

Pros:

  • Kills wasps on contact
  • 60:1 foam expansion rate can cover a large nest
  • Strong residual effect

Cons:

  • Foam pesticides can lose applicator efficiency after a few uses

Dust Pesticides

For suspended wasp nests or yellowjacket nests underground, using a dust insecticide is sometimes a good idea to prevent swarms of wasps from charging out once a nest is disturbed. You can usually apply dust insecticides with a dust applicator that will give you some distance from the nest and lessen the vibrations that disturb wasps. 

D-Fense Deltamethrin Dust

D-Fense Deltamethrin Dust
Active Ingredient: Deltamethrin 0.05%

D-Fense Deltamethrin dust is water resistant and can last up to 8 months when applied in wall voids and cracks and crevices properly. This should be applied using a hand duster or power duster equipment.

Why DoMyOwn?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

D-Fense Deltamethrin Dust is ready-to-use pyrethroid dust that can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications of wasp nests. It can be applied using a hand duster or power duster directly onto a wasp nest or into yellow jacket entry and exit holes. This product has excellent penetration into wall voids, ensuring equal coverage, and is odorless and non-staining. 

To use on suspended nests, approach the nest with caution at night and administer a very light mist of dust over the sides, top, and bottom of the nest. The low volume of the product should not immediately disturb the wasps, but be sure to coat the nest as much as possible and be prepared to flee if wasps emerge.

To use against yellowjackets, approach the nest or entry and exit holes quietly at night and stand at least 5 feet away as you lightly mist the dust across the nest or into the entry and exit holes. The dust has a residual effect that will ensure yellowjackets are coated in the dust as they enter and exit the nest. 

Pros:

  • Safe and effective
  • Strong residual effect
  • If used with a dust applicator, the dust is not likely to disturb a nest

Cons:

  • Takes time to destroy an entire nest

Natural Methods to Get Rid of Wasps

If you want to try some natural remedies to eliminate wasps, there are a few methods you can consider trying. 

For either suspended or underground nests, applying essential oils to the nests will repel wasps, but it will also aggravate the insects greatly. 

Pouring boiling water on a nest or into entry holes on the ground for a yellowjacket nest is also a popular natural method. Boiling water can instantly kill wasps, but there is the possibility you may not kill an entire colony. 

FAQs

What do wasps eat? And what eats wasps?

Wasps eat everything from pollen, vegetation, and plant extracts to rotting meat or even other dead wasps or insects. When food sources are scarce, wasps of all species have been known to scavenge, and may even eat animal waste, paper, or rotting wood or cardboard to extract the cellulose inside. 

Wasps have many natural predators. Birds, spiders, frogs, and other reptiles, as well as dragonflies, centipedes, and even mammals in the wild, will eat wasps since these insects are an easy food source. 

How long do wasps live?

Wasps do not have very long lifespans. A worker wasp can live anywhere from 3 weeks to 1 month. A queen wasp lives the longest at one year. Queens are constantly reproducing and laying eggs inside of a nest that keeps wasps plentiful during the warm months of the year. 

Where do wasps go in the winter?

A wasp colony typically dies off in mid to late autumn and over the winter period–almost always during the first night that falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

A queen wasp survives the winter by hibernating deep within structures outside or even indoors. Once spring arrives, a queen will emerge from hibernation and set up a small nest to lay her eggs that have been fertilized over the winter period. 

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Written by Alex Johnson

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