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 little 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 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.
How to Identify a Wasp Nest
Different species of wasps build their nests from various materials. The places that attract them are also different. 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 little 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 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 due to the majority of these species being solitary. However, we’ve encountered huge nests looking like vast termite mounds so this 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 popular among solitary species). This will determine the colour of the wasp nest – whether it’s grey or brownish.
How do Wasps Make Nests?
Wasps build their nests by 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 own 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.
Where do Wasps Build Their Nests?
In most cases, wasps choose to build in places that already provide protection. This includes:
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 entrance. This makes 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 very dangerous and unpleasant situations, especially for children or people who are allergic to wasp stings. The recommended move is to call a pest exterminator right away because they possess 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 are different and 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;
- Significant drop in blood pressure;
- Loss of consciousness;
There are two types of allergy tests your doctor can perform to find out 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 will 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 would be recommended 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 can be commonly bought 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:
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 the time 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 it’s not recommended to approach 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 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 exterminate the colony naturally, so destroying the nest won’t be necessary. However, wasp nests located in warm Australian regions with high temperatures are more difficult 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, and they control the population of some pests, like spiders or caterpillars, by feeding their larvae with them.
European wasps, on the other hand, 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 establishment of this pest in Western Australia. Public awareness and involvement are essential for their success.
How to Remove a Wasp Nest
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 a 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 different pesticides and methods of pest control must be applied:
Aerial Wasp Nests
If you notice a wasp nest up in the air, most likely you’re dealing with paper wasps or bald-faced hornets. Dealing with a nest that’s high above is challenging, and we advise you to seek professional help 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 they have to deal with an aerial wasp nest.
You really 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. This would ensure a reach of around six metres, allowing you to spray the nest without the use of a ladder.
Aim the spray at the opening of the nest 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 located 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.
- 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.
- Gather pesticides.
For ground wasp, nests use normal hornet killing spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Dealing with a wasp nest could make people do some stupid 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 of the 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.
This is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. First, there are most likely wasps around the nest, which 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 angry 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. Always 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. This 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 that the wasps are entering and leaving the walls from. 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 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 location, far from the exit of your home means that you will 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. This could be done by hanging a fake wasp nest (sold in most department stores) near the location of the current nest.
Wasps are territorial insects and won’t stay if there is a nest in 200 metres in proximity.
After the Wasp Nest is Removed
A lot of information can be found 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 be informed what happens after the procedure.
What do wasps do when their nest is destroyed
Removing a nest could get messy, especially when handled incorrectly. 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 during the day the workers are away.
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.
What happens to wasps when the nest is destroyed
Once the nest is eliminated, the surviving wasps will return to the site. The social wasps, however, won’t be able to stay alive for long without their queen, since they are used to living in big groups. Chances are they will stay to 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 nest is destroyed
There is no exact time really. They 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
Like we said, those that are not present in the nest during the extermination will certainly 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
Rule number one for preventing unpleasant consequences of a wasp sting is staying well informed about your and your family’s health. This could be easily achieved through regular visits to the doctor.
In case of a sting, immediate proper measures could stop further complications. A good idea is 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.
This could be combined with painkillers or medications for itching. Keep in mind, though, that for children it is best to consult with a doctor first.
Avoiding the little insects is not always possible, but the following tips could lower the chances of a nasty sting:
- Apply insect repellent product.
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 that 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. Any food is best to be eaten inside.
- Don’t try to wave the wasps away.
Making sudden moves is a bad idea. Killing the intruder is even worse! Some species like the European and paper wasps are known to be 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.[/su_note]
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 next hours. The place could also begin to itch, depending on a person’s sensitivity level.
Children, for instance, are more vulnerable and something like a wasp sting could unlock a hidden allergy. Elderly people 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. When they’re targeted, it’s best to seek medical help quickly.
Can wasps sting through a bee suit
Bees and wasps do share a lot of common features. However, stinging and venom power is not among them. Wasps have longer stingers that can be used multiple times. This means that even with a bee suit on, an extra layer of clothing is still necessary.
Factors like the quality and material of the bee suit do matter, however, a 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
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 house 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.