You know them by their buzzing, their numbers, and their painful stings. No one wants to find wasps in or around their home but the warmer the weather gets, the greater your chance of ending up with a wasp infestation.
Identifying a wasp situation typically starts with finding the nest. In most cases, wasps nests are out of sight and can usually be identified by a steady stream of wasp activity to a hole in your home, underneath roof eaves, or through your soffits. Wasps tend to congregate in high-ground areas like the roof to maintain a lay of the land. If you regularly encounter one or more wasps when enjoying your yard, you’ve probably got a wasps’ nest on your property.
Wasps send out scouts like many other species to seek out food, particularly sweet smells and rotting flesh. They’re a swarming species which means when one finds a snack they’ll immediately return to the nest to tell the rest of the clan. It’s uncommon to find wasp nests indoors (although it does happen!) and/or underground, but if you can’t find a nest outdoors you should bring in a professional to help you identify the problem.
If you do happen to find a wasps’ nest in or around your home, NEVER attempt to remove it yourself as you could be stung by dozens or even hundreds of wasps at once, causing serous bodily harm. An exterminator can help you remove the nest safely and efficiently.
Dealing With Wasps
There are hundreds of species of wasps, the most common of which are English wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. Bees and wasps are often confused, but a good rule of thumb is to look for yellow, red, or brownish coloring; if you see these colors you’re most likely dealing with wasps. Wasps also tend to be smaller and less hairy than most bee species.
Here are a few tried-and-true ways to get rid of wasps once you’ve found them:
Insecticides/Pesticides: The easiest and most effective way to get rid of a persistent wasp problem is to bring in a pest professional. They can spray or sprinkle pesticides in strategic locations all around your home that will kill existing wasps and prevent new colonies from forming. It’s important to pick up any dead wasps you see lying around after treatment as they may contain dangerous levels of pesticides you don’t want your kids or pets ingesting.
Traps: To deal with a relatively minor wasp problem, some people choose to fill a jar with orange juice or soda, poke holes in the lid, then place the jar in a heavily-traveled location. The wasps will be attracted to the sweet smell and subsequently drown in the liquid. Be sure to replace the bait every night after dark.
False Nests: Since wasps are territorial, preventing them can be as easy as setting up a false nest (sold at many hardware stores) on your property. If colonizing wasps see the nest already in place they’ll be less likely to set up shop in or around your home.
Remember, it’s never a good idea to “drown” a wasps’ nest (i.e. spray it with a garden hose) or to try and bag the nest yourself. You could be stung and about 0.2% of the population is actually severely allergic to certain species of stinging insects. It’s not worth the risk.