Pest Issues

How to Identify and Get Rid of Wasp Nests

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Instinctively, the first thing we want to do when we encounter a weird muddy or papery mass of potential torment is to poke it. We just can’t help it. Even if it has tiny flying insects buzzing around, the instinct is sometimes too strong, especially in children. But destroying a wasps’ nest without knowing what you’re doing is a bad idea.

Both bees and wasps are very territorial and will defend their hive or nest with their lives. Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times, and their sting is often more painful. They also release pheromones making other wasps in the area more aggressive towards you. That’s why it’s crucial to know what you’re dealing with before you do anything. Do not poke the hornet’s nest is a piece of brilliant advice!

In this article, we’ll show you how to identify wasps’ nests, how they build them, what to do about them, how to protect yourself, and more.

In this article:

How to identify a wasp nest

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Different species of wasps build their nests from various materials. The places that attract them also differ. But a wasp nest is a wasp nest through and through and shouldn’t be too hard to identify.

In most cases, a wasp nest would look like a hardened blob, with the outside looking like it’s made of strands of paper. The inside resembles a beehive with tiny cell-like honeycomb structures. The overall feel of this type of nest (and we don’t recommend touching it!) is papery. In some cases, it can look like a hardened cotton ball.

Another popular look might be more familiar to you – miniature pottery. Some species build nests that resemble small vases or other mud structures. In most cases, those would be smaller than the paper alternative because most of these species are solitary. However, we’ve encountered huge nests looking like vast termite mounds, which isn’t always the case.

What is a wasp nest made of?

The most widely used materials include chewed-up tree fibres (giving it that papery look), resin, or mud (more prevalent among solitary species). And that determines the colour of the wasp nest – whether it’s grey or brownish.

How do wasps make nests?

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Wasps build their nests using their own secretion and different materials they gather (as mentioned above).

Paper wasp nests are made of chewed up wood, making them look and feel like paper. The insects chew up the fibres and use their saliva to stick them together and mould the entire structure. It usually starts small, but it grows bigger with each generation. If undisturbed, they can easily reach enormous sizes.

Another alternative is mud. The wasps gather it and bring it to their nest, carefully crafting their future homes, usually in a circular motion. Once the ring they’ve laid down dries out, they lay another one on top. Their structures often resemble familiar pottery forms and shapes. The sizes may vary.

Did you know that Native people’s pottery’s look and shapes are believed to be inspired by mud wasp nests?

Where do wasps build their nests?

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In most cases, wasps choose to build in places that already provide protection, including:

  • Eaves;
  • Nooks and crannies;
  • Sheds;
  • Garages;
  • Hollow tree stems;
  • Tree branches;
  • Shrubs;
  • And more.

Some species prefer to burrow in the ground. Their nests resemble ant colonies or even termite mounds. There is usually one entrance that’s heavily guarded in social species. Some solitary species are also known to collaborate and build multiple nests with a single access point, making them semi-social.

What to do with a wasp nest around the house

Attempting to remove a wasp nest in or around your home can lead to hazardous and unpleasant situations, especially for children or people who are allergic to wasp stings. The recommended move is to arrange a visit from a pest exterminator right away because they possess the equipment and special suits, which will allow them to take care of the wasp nest without endangering anyone.

Do not get close to the nest or poke it; It will make the wasps angry. In the following texts, you will find more useful safety tips:

How to tell if you’re allergic to wasp stings

An allergic reaction could vary from mild, through large to extremely severe, which is known as anaphylaxis. The symptoms for each level differ, and it is essential to be able to distinguish them. Common symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to wasp stings are:

  • Swelling around the eyes, lips and throat;
  • Itching and hives all over the body and around the sting;
  • Breathing issues;
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • A significant drop in blood pressure;
  • Dizziness;
  • Loss of consciousness;

There are two types of allergy tests your doctor can perform to determine if you’re allergic to wasp stings – a skin test and a blood test. The most common types of wasp venom doctors test for are bees, hornets, yellow jackets and European wasps.

The skin test

The whole process takes around 15 minutes. The doctor cleans an area of skin on the arm or the back, then applies the extracted wasp venom on the spot and covers it. If any swelling, redness or irritation occurs, then you are allergic to wasp stings.

The blood test

Blood tests take more time, but they are more conclusive, and there are fewer risks associated with them (there’s no risk of getting an allergic reaction because the venom never touches your body). The doctor will take a small sample of your blood and send it to a lab to analyse it.

If the test confirms that you are allergic to wasp stings, getting stung can be a life-threatening situation. Therefore, it preferrable to find a pest exterminator to remove the wasp nest for you.

Using pesticides to get rid of wasps

The most common method used to get rid of wasps is spraying them with pesticides, which you can buy in supermarkets or hardware stores. Although efficient, the improper usage of aerosol pesticides can be dangerous, so here are a few safety tips to follow:

  • No children or pets in the area;
  • Section off the treated area for at least 24 hours;
  • Wear a protective mask;
  • Don’t spray near water tanks or any open water sources;
  • Don’t spray plants;
  • Pick up and dispose of any dead wasps, they can poison your pet if ingested;

Removing a wasp nest is a dangerous business!

There are serious health risks involved when dealing with wasps. There’s no point in taking them when someone else is more qualified to do it.

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What is the best time to remove a wasp nest?

The best time to remove a wasp nest is in early spring when the colony is smaller, and the wasps are less aggressive. Spring is when the queen wasp picks a spot to build the nest and gives life to the first brood of worker wasps. If you manage to eliminate the queen before the summer arrives, you won’t have to worry about new nests that year.

During the spring and summer months, the wasp nests grow significantly, and we do not recommend approaching them. The worst time to remove a wasp nest is in late summer, when the last brood of wasps is born.

It contains male wasps and next year’s queens so that the colony will be very protective during that time. In some Australian regions with more moderate climates, the cold nighttime temperatures and the hibernation period during winter will naturally exterminate the colony, so destroying the nest won’t be necessary. However, wasp nests located in warm Australian regions with high temperatures are more challenging to remove since the weather can make the wasps skip their hibernation time.

Laws and regulations concerning wasp control in Australia

There are no specific laws on eradicating or removing wasp nests in Australia. However, all native wasps, including paper wasps, are considered beneficial, because they assist in plant pollination by feeding on nectar. These wasps also help controlling other insects’ population, like spiders’ or caterpillars’, by feeding wasp larvae with them.

On the other hand, European wasps are considered pests because they are an introduced species, which doesn’t have any natural predators in Australia to keep the population in check. Currently, special measures are taken for preventing the establishment of this pest in Western Australia. Public awareness and involvement are essential for their success.

The use of honey-based baiting systems, a popular wasp control method in many European countries and America, is illegal in all states and territories of Australia.

How to remove a wasp nest

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Before tackling a wasp nest, you have to wear proper protective gear. Even for people who aren’t allergic to wasps, protective clothing will prevent unwanted stings.

Some places claim that a thick pair of jeans, a sweater with a hoodie, boots and a thick pair of gloves will be sufficient. While wasps will have a harder time reaching your skin. If it’s not professional-grade gear, we do not recommend using it.

How to get rid of a wasp nest in Australia

Depending on the type of wasp nest you’re dealing with, various pesticides and methods of pest control must be applied:

How to remove aerial wasp nests

If you notice a wasp nest high above the ground, most likely you’re dealing with paper wasps or bald-faced hornets. This is a challenging task, so we advise you to seek professional pest control company if the nest isn’t within your reach.

Most professionals won’t use ladders, as it can be dangerous, but our exterminators know how to act when dealing with an aerial wasp nest.

You only have one option when it comes to wasp nests in the air – poison.

There is a wide range of readily available wasp poisons. The type of insecticide that you’d want to use is labelled as “projectile wasp spray”. By using it, you will have a reach of around six metres, allowing you to spray the nest without the use of a ladder.

Aim the spray at the nest’s opening and use as much as possible once the can is empty. Leave the nest alone for at least 24 hours. Return the next day and check if there is any activity left. If the spray didn’t kill all the wasps, use another one.

How to remove ground wasp nests

While we don’t condone DIY wasp nest removal, pest experts aren’t available in the whole world, and sometimes you have to do it yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove a ground wasp nest.

  1. Create a plan.

    When tackling the nest, you need an escape plan. Make sure you know the area, and you have a place to hide if needed.

  2. Identify the types of wasp you’re dealing with.

    It can be challenging to the untrained eye, but proper identification is a must. If the nest is in the ground, most likely you’re dealing with yellowjackets, which are very aggressive and can be a health danger. If you haven’t located the nest, make sure you thoroughly inspect your property.

  3. Ensure you’re wearing all protective gear.

    The proper clothing is a must. Good condition second-hand beekeeping suits run from A$50 to A$200. Depending on how often you have to deal with wasps, owning one can be a worthwhile investment. The clothing should be covering your whole body (head, face, hands, feet), as it will be the only thing between you and the wasps.

  4. Gather pesticides.

    For ground wasp, nests use a regular hornet killing spray.

  5. Always remove the wasp nest during night hours.

    Approach the nest silently. Wasps will be docile late at night, which will decrease the chance of you getting stung or worse – attacked.

  6. Approach the nest slowly.

    Make sure everyone around you is safe. If you’re inside a closed space (your house, for example) make sure everyone is out and at a safe distance.

  7. Spray the nest with the wasp killing spray.

    Make sure you’re fast. Empty the wasp killer inside the nest. Return after 24 hours and check for activity. If there are still leftover wasps, spray again. After there is no activity, approach the nest cautiously and bury it with dirt if it’s in the ground. If the nest is in your house, knock it inside a bin bag, tighten the bag and take it outside.

How NOT to get rid of a wasp nest

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Dealing with a wasp nest could make people do foolish things. In history, there have been numerous cases of improper wasp nest removal. Here’s what you shouldn’t do when dealing with wasps:

  • Using water to ‘drown’ the wasps. We get the idea behind the usage of water, but it simply doesn’t work. While pouring water in the nest, most wasps will find their way out, and they will attack you. Not to mention the damage you could cause to your home if the nest is located inside.
  • Knocking down the wasp nest. One of the biggest mistakes you could make. First, most likely, wasps around the nest will begin stinging when you go close to their home. Second, how far is that nest going to fly? Knocking a wasp nest down shouldn’t even be an option, as you’re just going to anger the wasps.
  • Setting the nest on fire. Just like the above-mentioned ‘drowning’ the wasps, setting the nest on fire may destroy the nest but won’t kill all of the wasps in it. Avoid using fire, especially if the nest is located in or around your house, as severe damages may occur. After all, it’s always better to call an exterminator instead of the fire brigade.

How to get rid of a wasp nest in a wall

If you begin noticing wasps in and around your home with no visible nest, we suggest you do a little investigation, which could mean that you’ll be dealing with a wasp nest in the walls of your house.

While the DIY method rarely works, you can try killing the wasps with a pest control powder containing carbaryl (like Sevin dust). Find all the holes from which the wasps are entering and leaving. Seal them with steel wool to prevent the wasps from escaping the walls. In five or six days, they should be dead.

If the DIY method doesn’t work, we suggest calling your local pest controllers. They have access to stronger pesticides and know how to tackle a wasp nest between your walls for a 100% success rate.

How to get rid of a wasp nest in the roof

Finding wasp nests in your attic is a common thing. The roof of your home has more entry points than any other part of your house, allowing easy access for wasps.

When you’re dealing with a wasp nest in your roof, you should handle it with care. Being in a closed space, far from an exit means you’ll be vulnerable to a wasp attack.

Removing a wasp nest on your roof or in the attic is dangerous. If you do not have experience dealing with wasps, you shouldn’t try to remove it yourself. Contact a professional who will have the needed license and appropriate equipment to deal with wasps nests in the roof.

How to get rid of wasp nests without killing them

Removing a wasp nest without hurting its inhabitants is nearly impossible. The only way is to make them leave. You can do this by hanging a fake wasp nest (sold in most department stores) near the current nest’s location.

While artificial wasp nests aren’t going to break the bank, there is no 100% chance the fake nest will make the wasps leave.

However, wasps are territorial insects and won’t roam about if there is a nest in 200 metres proximity. That’s why the wasps are likely to leave once you hang an artificial wasp nest near the real one.

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After the wasp nest is removed

You can find a lot of information on dealing with wasps in your property. Before preparing for nest removal yourself, it is good to know all efforts will be worth it.

As professionals, we are familiar with the life cycle and habits of wasps and other insects. We understand that people are most concerned about the consequences of a thorough wasp nest removal. Since those species are known to “hold a grudge”, it is good to inform yourself about what happens after the procedure.

What do wasps do when their nest is destroyed?

Removing a nest could get messy, especially when mishandled. The procedure could go either way, as various factors play a role – time, place and extermination method. Early morning or the night hours present the perfect moment for the task. This will ensure the presence of all wasps in the nest, as the workers are away during the day.

Remember to catch them by surprise. Once sprayed, most of the wasps will become immobilised and die after a while. Others will probably try to put up a fight, but you should be long gone by then. Those who manage to escape will either die or wait until it is safe to go back.

Remember that killing the wasps doesn’t mean the removal of the colony. For thorough extermination, you need to destroy the nest as well.

What happens to wasps when the nest is destroyed?

Once you eliminate the nest, the surviving wasps will return to the site. However, the social wasps won’t stay alive for long without their queen since they are used to living in big groups. Chances are they will investigate and then fly away.

As for solitary wasps, they won’t have a problem relocating and starting a new nest. If you don’t want to risk finding another one at the same spot, check our tips on preventing wasps from nesting.

How long do wasps stay after the nest is destroyed?

There is no exact time, really. The wasps would have probably stayed for longer if reminiscing about the good old days in the nest, but that is certainly not the case. If you still see wasps circling around the area after an hour, there is no need to be alarmed. Still, it is not a bad idea to keep an eye on the little creatures just in case. If you notice any suspicious activity, start spraying again.

Will wasps return to a destroyed nest?

As we said, those not present in the nest during the extermination will undoubtedly come back shortly after that. There is a slight possibility to try and rebuild the nest. However, it is unlikely. Once the queen is gone, the workers won’t be able to survive on their own.

Wasp stings and useful prevention information

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Rule number one for preventing unpleasant consequences of a wasp sting is staying well informed about yours and your family’s health. You can easily achieve this by visiting your doctor.

In case of a sting, immediate proper measures could stop further complications. It’s a good idea to place a bag of ice on the spot for a few minutes. Proven homemade remedies involve vinegar and honey. While the first will disinfect the wasp sting in-depth, the second will calm the inflammation and ease the pain.

You can combine this with painkillers or medications for itching after consulting with a medical professional. Keep in mind, though, that for children it is best to consult with a doctor first.

Avoiding the tiny insects is not always possible, but the following tips could lower the chances of a nasty sting:

  • Apply insect repellent products. Any time you have outdoor activities planned, don’t forget to take measures. A non-toxic version of the product is preferable, especially when it comes to pets or kids.
  • Wasp-proof your picnic area. Next time you plan a picnic in the garden, make sure you have sliced lemons with cloves stuck in them. The wasps will know to stay clear!
  • Don’t send your children to play outside with sweets. Most wasps are attracted to sugary products and will try to get a bite. If your kid doesn’t want to go out without the favourite juice, pour the liquid into a plastic cup with a lid on it. It’s best to eat any food inside.
  • Don’t try to wave the wasps away. Making sudden moves is a bad idea, and killing the intruder is even worse! Some species, like the European and paper wasps, are quite aggressive, especially when feeling threatened. Not to mention that more of its buddies could be close by. There is a big chance for the wasp to just fly away after a short investigation.

What does a wasp sting look like

You’ll know you’ve been stung the second it happens. In addition to sharp pain, burning and sweating, there are visible signs on the body as well.

The most common look of a wasp sting includes a red dot with a circle and swollen area around it that could expand over the following hours. The place could also begin to itch, depending on a person’s sensitivity level.

For instance, children are more vulnerable, and something like a wasp sting could unlock a hidden allergy. Older adults and those who are known to be more sensitive fall into that category too.

The spot the wasp chose to pierce the skin also affects the outcome. The face and neck are more delicate areas. If you’re stung there, it’s best to seek medical help quickly.

Can wasps sting through a bee suit?

Bees and wasps do share a lot of common traits. However, stinging and venom power is not among them. Wasps have longer stingers which they can use multiple times, which means that even with a bee suit on, an extra layer of clothing is still necessary.

Factors like the bee suit’s quality and its material do matter. However, the risk of a sting always remains. And who wants to gamble when it comes to personal health and safety? It’s better to call a well-trained professional who knows how to handle the situation.

Preventing wasps from nesting

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Wouldn’t it be perfect if all unpleasant insects could just skip your house? Well, there is no magical solution that can wasp-proof your home. Nonetheless, there are still ways to protect your property and your family.

Preventing wasps from nesting could be achieved when you know the right tricks. Ideas that could come in handy are:

  • Inspect the property for cracks and holes that could serve as attractive nesting area;
  • Check the garden for rodent holes and fill them with dirt for preventing European wasps’ nest formation;
  • Don’t keep any trash outside during the warm months;
  • Spray all “risky” areas with a natural wasp repellent of mint oil, dish soap and water;
  • Plan regular wasp checks in your property during the summer.

Removing a wasp nest is an expert job. As a pest control company, we know the dangers of getting rid of a wasp infestation (especially in closed spaces).

With each wasp removal service we conduct, our pest controllers spend tremendous time preparing for the job. Because of the dangerous nature of wasp removal, we advise you always book certified and insured pest controllers that know what they’re doing.

However, if you decide to deal with the wasp nest by yourself, don’t skip the proper protective gear. If there happens to be a mishap, protective equipment can skip you the trip to the emergency room, or even possible death, depending on how your body reacts to the wasp attack.

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  • Inspect the place first and locate the nest. Try to identify what types of wasps are causing you trouble.
  • Don’t try to destroy the nest by knocking it down or setting it on fire, as it can only agitate the wasps. You’ll have a very dangerous situation on your hands.
  • If you attempt on removing the nest by yourself, wear protective clothing and follow a plan.
  • When in doubt, always call professional pest controllers to deal with the wasps’ nest. This way, you’ll be keeping yourself and your family safe.

Have you had any trouble with wasps? Do you have any other ideas and suggestions for dealing with them? Leave a comment below!

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Bronwyn Morris
Bronwyn Morris
6 months ago

You can also, with some patience, get rid of paper wasps naturally. Put your hose nozzle of the ‘jet’ setting. Approach, from a distance, and spray directly onto the nest until you see the wasps wash away or until you don’t feel safe. Leave the area and return the next day. Most likely the wasps will attempt at rebuilding in the same place. Do the same process as above. You may have to do this between 3-5 times. It will disrupt the wasps and they will find another spot to nest. Much better for the wasps not to kill these poor creatures by poisoning them and the surrounds.

The Fantastic Team
The Fantastic Team
5 months ago
Reply to  Bronwyn Morris

Thank you for sharing this idea. Sadly, it’s not always applicable, especially when the nest is in a house, close to a window or door.

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