How to Control Paper Wasps Around Your Home (& Get Rid of Their Nests)

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When it comes to pests, most people do not like them occupying the space in or around their home or business. Adult wasps and other insects are a nuisance and some can even be dangerous and/or cause damage to buildings or vegetation. The first step to getting rid of any pests that are present is to identify what the pests are before an infestation begins or spreads even more. When it comes to removing any type of pest, it is imperative to do the proper research beforehand to ensure personal safety and their efficient removal.

What are Paper Wasps?

Paper wasps, scientifically known as Polistes spp., and from the family Vespidae, are common insects that have obtained their name from their open-celled paper-like nests. The paper wasp nests are constructed of chewed up wood fibers and other plant materials that result in the nests resembling paper. The nests are often found in porch ceilings, door frames, and in the eaves of buildings. Paper wasps have over 22 species in North America and over 200 species around the world and are sometimes called different names like yellow jackets.

Paper wasps actually benefit the environment. They prey on other insects that can do harm, such as plant-eating insects, larvae of other insects, and caterpillars. They also feed on nectar pollen, which aids in the pollination of plants. However, the issue with paper wasps is that they have a harsh sting and can infest a home or public building if not dealt with quickly. Paper wasps stings are extra severe for individuals with allergies, especially if stung by multiple wasps at once.

Differentiating Common Wasps

It is easy to see a wasp and not try to figure out what kind of wasp it is. While bees are easy to tell apart from wasps, wasps and hornets can look a lot alike. Knowing the difference will help an individual understand the specific dangers, benefits, habits, and how to eliminate each kind from taking up residence near people.

Paper wasps can grow between 0.5 and 1.5 inches in length and are predominately a dark brown or reddish color with black wings with yellow markings. Their nests are shaped like an umbrella, which has also earned them the name, umbrella wasp. Paper wasps also have no fuzz on their bodies.

The yellow jacket has distinct yellow stripes on its body. They grow between ⅜ of an inch and ⅝ of an inch. Yellowjackets also have paper nests, but nest in the ground. Additionally, they have fuzz on their bodies, unlike the paper wasp.

The European Hornet is another common hornet in North America and is usually between ⅜ of an inch to over an inch in length. They have a brown body with yellow abdominal stripes. Their faces are also pale in color. Their nests are typically found in barns, hollow trees, and in hollowed out walls (especially attics). They typically are seen in late summer and do not have paper-like nests.

Mud daubers are another common wasp that have long, slender bodies. They are typically black with light colored markings or metallic gloss. These wasps do not live in colonies like most bees. Their nests are made from mud and are commonly found in attics, under eaves, porch ceilings, and garages/sheds.

Bold-faced hornets are mostly black with white markings, especially on the face with a bit of fuzz. They can grow to be between ½ of an inch to ⅝ of an inch in size. They build large nests up to 24 inches in length on overhangs, in trees, and utility poles. Due to their colorings, the bold-faced hornet is easy to tell apart. They build large paper nests that are shaped like a football.

When and How Do They Nest?

All wasps build paper-like nests, but paper wasps are umbrella shaped and hang upside down with no envelope over them. The ideal location for these nests is in cool areas that are protected from wind, rain, and animals. The queen lays her eggs in the springtime after starting the nest. Each egg has its own cell and will hatch into larvae. Worker wasps are in charge of feeding the pupates, building the nest, and defending the nest.

By summertime, the nests can reach a width of at least 6 inches. Paper wasps do not have large colonies and will usually have between 30 and 40 adult wasps at its peak. The queen stops laying eggs in the late summer. The nest will naturally deteriorate when temperatures drop in the fall and wintertime resulting in the colony dying out. The inseminated queen hibernates throughout the winter by seeking shelter in crevices of buildings or other places and will repeat the process the following spring.

Pest Prevention – How to Control Paper Wasps

Like with termite control, there are a few options when it comes to paper wasp control once they have been identified. The location of the nest sites might alter which treatment method is best. If the nest sites are indoors, getting a professional to come in is the best way to go for the safety and health of the household. There are other ways to control the wasps that are inexpensive and can be manually done.

Professional extermination

It can be quite dangerous to rid a home or business of paper wasps due to their aggressiveness. They can sting several times and emit a pheromone to alert other wasps to defend the nest. Ideally, the best option would allow professionals to come in and handle the job. To efficiently exterminate paper wasps, focusing on the nest and nesting wasps inside. Professionals might use a mixture of aerosols, liquids, and dust to kill the nesting wasps while they are wearing the proper protective gear from aggressive wasps. When the colony has been exterminated, then the professional will remove the nest.

Getting professionals to come in and get rid of a wasp’s nest can be costly and even time-consuming. Many people prefer to get rid of pests themselves. One of the best ways of controlling paper wasps is with prevention. Make sure windows and doors are screened with no holes or tears. Paper wasps will also enter homes (other buildings as well) through cracks or small holes in the eaves of the building. Seal off any points of entry. It is better to deal with wasps if they are outside of the home and not inside.

Non-Toxic Wasp Deterrent

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A natural wasp deterrent.

Wasp deterrents are meant to trick different species of wasps into thinking that the area is already occupied by other wasps. Wasps typically will not build a nest within 200 feet of another colony. This eco-friendly wasp deterrent is non-toxic and chemical free. It has earned itself 3.6 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website and is inexpensive, costing under $6 for a set of two. The wasp deterrent is easily hung under eaves, patios, and decks, in garages/sheds, door frames, and any other areas that are susceptible to wasp nests. Avoid areas that are prone to lots of rain and wind exposure. The wasp deterrent is made of a blend of weather resistant cotton and bamboo fiber.

The downside is that this method is not 100% effective, as some consumers have reported wasps building nests despite the deterrent. Find and try the non-toxic wasp deterrent here on the Amazon website.

Homemade Spray Pesticide

With the help of Do-It-Yourself websites, many people prefer making their own pesticides that are as natural as they can make it. The easiest recipe simply requires dishwashing liquid and a hose-end sprayer. Put about ¼ of a cup of dishwashing liquid into the sprayer and add enough water to make it generously sudsy. Using precaution by standing back and covering exposed skin, spray into the nest. Since wasps have an exoskeleton, the soap will instantly kill the wasps upon contact if they are thoroughly saturated. Once it is determined safe enough to remove the nest, remove it and dispose of it to keep other wasps from coming back.

Chemical Pesticide

The most common way of killing wasps is with chemical pesticides. Commercial wasp spray is the easiest solution and can be purchased at stores that specialize in home and lawn care or online. For paper wasps, these pesticides will have an aerosol sprayer designed specifically for wasps. The Hot Shot Wasp & Hornet Killer can be found on Amazon with a rating of 3.9 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. It has a 27-foot jet spray which adds safety for the individual using the spray. The best time to use the spray at sunset during the time paper wasp is least active. The spray kills the wasps on contact. Make sure to fully saturate the nest. Wasps that return to the nest within 24 hours will also be killed. After 24 hours, it is okay to remove the nest and dispose of it by concealing it in a bag and throwing it away.

Find the Hot Shot Wasp & Hornet Killer here on the Amazon website for under $12.

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Hot Shot Wasp & Hornet Spray

Sugar-Water Wasp Traps

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Another chemical-free option of eliminating paper wasps is with the use of sugar water. Inexpensive traps can be found online. The Aspectek Trap has earned itself 3.6 stars out of 5 on the Amazon website. The sugar water mixture lures the wasps (also bees and hornets) inside of the trap where they drown in the mixture. The Aspectek Trap comes in a 2-pack and the traps are reusable with low maintenance. The instructions say how to make the mixture. Place the traps near areas where the wasps nest or fly around frequently. This is also a fantastic preventative method to keeping the wasps away in the first place.

Wasp Freeze

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Wasp freeze is another chemical solution to eliminating paper wasps that come in the form of an aerosol can. The professional wasp freeze sold from Whitmire Micro-Gen Research Lab has earned itself 3.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon sells for under $20. The high pressure can shoot the freeze up to 5 feet away for safety. The freeze knocks the nest down instantly and kills the wasps (and other insects it is used on such as bees and spiders). Due to the instant freeze killing the wasp, this does not give them the chance to release their stinging pheromones which will attract other wasps to defend the nest and young. It is mostly recommended for outdoor use is safe to use indoors for nests in attics, garages, and other areas.

Buy the Wasp freeze here on the Amazon website.

Insecticidal Dust

Sometimes, wasps can be sneaky and hide inside walls and other concealed areas. To rid a building of wasps, insecticidal dust is the best option. Insecticidal dust is the dry form of contact insecticide. It is used to eliminate any wasps and other insects that cannot be seen. There are various brands of insecticidal dust on the market that can be found in stores or online. Dr. Killigan’s Insect Buster sold on Amazon has earned itself 4.6 stars out of 5 and is non-toxic and safe to use indoors. Insecticidal dust is ideal for when the nest has been eliminated, but stray wasps are still an issue. This way a home or business can be sure that their infestation has been completely controlled. Alternatively, it can also be used as a preventative measure to ensure no wasps take up space in hidden areas.

Buy Dr. Killigan’s Insect Butter here for around $25.

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Other Tips

It is always a good idea to remove any standing water from around the property to reduce the risk of infestations. If a nest is discovered in early spring before the first generation of worker wasps have entered adulthood, the nest can be knocked down in order to prevent the queen from using that location to nest during the season. It is also wise to not do anything to the nest and wasps in the daytime when they are most active. This will result in more wasps being in the nest during contact and reduce the chances of being attacked.

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