When the days are warmer and nights are longer, wasps begin to show up. They set up their nests near homes, and fly swiftly around entryways and doors, and they sting only when they feel threatened. There are more than 30,000 species of wasps, and although they have a significant role to play in the food chain, some of them are pests to humans. Therefore, before you attempt to get rid of wasps, it is important to know which of them are potentially harmful.
Learn more about wasps and ways to do pest control for home. If needed, you may have to do commercial pest control to safely get rid of the wasps from your property.
The best way to prevent the wasps from nesting is to take preventive measures during the summer and spring months.
How to prevent wasps
- Remove food sources Wasps are attracted to sweet and protein-rich food. This includes leftovers and dog food, which you may discard in the garbage. The wasps can access the food through the garbage bags. Remember, once the wasp identifies a food source, it will imprint that source – even when the food is removed, the wasp will return to that area to look for more food. Remove all food attractions – cover your garbage cans, don’t leave any sugary foods or drinks open, and harvest fruits from your trees – don’t leave any food for the wasps.
- Plug the holes and open crevices in your home Change in weather may create open crevices or holes in your doors and windows. These crevices give easy access to wasps and hornets to carry out their nesting activity. So, if you see the insulation of your roof, attic, and basement wearing off, take the cue and seal the entry points.
- Line your overhangs If you have smaller structures like a birdhouse in your home, line the area under the roof with aluminum foil to avoid nests. Rubbing the under-roof area with bar soap can prevent the nesting activity of the wasp.
- Stay away from solitary wasps Avoid spending time outside wearing clothes in bright colors and floral prints. Wasps may confuse them for flowers that produce nectar. Sometimes, the wasps can mistake the strong smell of perfumes and colognes for sweet-smelling food.
- Make a fake nest Wasps avoid the nests of other wasps. When they see a fake nest, they mistake it for a real one and nest elsewhere.
Professional Treatment for Wasps
- Treat If you see any signs of a wasp colony, whether you’ve located the nest or not, you should immediately treat the area with pest control methods. You should take necessary measures or take the help of a professional in order to get rid of the wasp nests.
- Drench the nest If you’ve located the wasp’s nest, drenching the nest with a specially formulated insecticide is one of the most effective treatments. If you are allergic to the wasp, do not take on the task of nest drenching. Depending on the location and the severity of the nest, decide whether you need a hand-held can spray or large container with a long nozzle spray. For large nests, the nozzle is ideal as you can spray from far – out of the harm’s way. Don’t forget to wear long pants, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, a safety mask, and goggles.
- Dust the nest Nest dusting is less risky than nest drenching. This method is ideal if the wasp infestation isn’t an immediate threat. Sprinkle the dust over the nest and the surrounding areas and quickly move away. When dusting, remember to wear protective clothing as you would in nest drenching.
- Spray the perimeter Perimeter spraying is important to mitigate the number of wasps you’re dealing with and ensure that they do not create more nests around your home. This method requires you to spray the insecticide in areas where you have seen the wasps flying. Spray in areas like your home entrance to ensure the wasps do not make their way inside the house. Unlike nest dusting and drenching, perimeter spraying do not eradicate wasps, but it gives you more time to get professional help.
- Baiting If you cannot locate the nest, baiting is a good option. There are various bait and trap products available that can effectively pull the wasps from their nests. However, this method isn’t ideal if you are dealing with a large infestation because of the time it takes to work.
Difference Between Bees and Wasps
|Full-bodied, hairy, and fuzzy – the characteristic that helps them collect and disseminate pollen||Non-hairy, shiny, slim body with slender legs|
|· Non-meat eaters.
· Consumes plant pollens and nectar from flowering plants.
|· Meat eaters. Feeds their young with other arthropods and insects.
· During late summer and fall, when queens stop laying eggs,they collect sweets and other carbohydrates.
|· Makes their nests from wax
· The nest remains active for many years
|· Makes their nests from paper-like materials of their saliva and chewed wood particles
· Have annual life cycle, hence generally use their nests for one year
|Stings||Their stingers are barbed, so they stay in the skin, when the bee flies away after stinging||After stinging, the wasps can pull out their stingers without injuring themselves|
Common Species of Wasps and How to Identify Them
How to Identify:
- Found worldwide. American yellow jackets are commonly found in the Southeast
- About 3/8” to 5/8” long
- Yellow and black stripes along its body
- They live in colonies, build a nest to protect the entire group, work to fertilize the queen wasp’s eggs
- Their nests are found hanging from structures, inside structures, and on the ground
How to Identify:
- Commonly found throughout tropical Asia, but are prevalent throughout North America
- Average size is 1.25”
- Black with white or light yellow stripes. More structured stripes than those of yellow jackets
- They are social species of wasp. Stings only when provoked
- Nests are made of paper or paper-like materials
- Builds their nests on high trees, or sturdy plants, and sometimes near buildings and homes
How to Identify:
- Found throughout North America
- Grows up to ¾” to 1” long
- Brownish-black with yellow to red markings along with their head and abdomen
- Nests are made of paper or similar materials
- Builds their nests under eaves, near buildings, and closer to the ground on sturdy plants
- Paper wasps don’t sting unless they feel like the colony is being threatened. When provoked, they tend to swarm
How to Identify:
- Found throughout the world, but native to North America
- A solitary wasp – doesn’t live in colonies; doesn’t build nests together with other wasps; builds a smaller nest for itself and its offspring
- Grows up to ½” to 1” long
- Thinner bodies as compared to other wasps
- Black with yellow markings on their legs and thorax
- Builds its nest out of mud, usually place near buildings
- Does not swarm
- Docile until provoked
What Attracts the Wasps and How Serious Are They?
Flowers and plants attract also them to your backyard. Patios and other outdoor eating areas with leftover food crumbs or sticky soda spills that are not cleaned up attract wasps. Uncovered and irregularly emptied garbage cans attract them too. Homes with a lot of insects and spiders become food developing and mature wasps. Popular wasp nesting spots are soffits, eaves, and gutters on home exteriors.
Wasps can ruin your outdoor activities. While they rarely sting, they can turn hostile if threatened or provoked. Their stings are painful but are generally non-threatening unless you are allergic to the wasp’s venom.
Signs of Wasp Infestation
Look for these signs to know if you have a wasp problem in your home:
- Wasps flying around your property
- Chewed wood and holes or tunnels in wooden surfaces on the exterior of your home
- Visible wasp nests made from chewed wood or mud particles
Use protective clothing on (protective clothing, gloves, goggles) while inspecting. Follow the below steps to get ready for inspection:
Step 1: Prepare to be safe
Dress in long pants and long sleeves shirt. Wear closed-toed shoes and gloves. Also, wear goggles to protect your eyes.
Step 2: Identify the location of the nests
Check the following places for nests:
- Undisturbed areas
- Under the window sills and eaves
- Underneath siding or any other overhangs
- On the ground near bushes and plants
- On plants, bushes, and trees
Step 3: Identify the wasp species
Know the characteristics of the species, as described in point 3 of this article, to identify the species. Some distinctive features that can help you identify the species:
- The location of the nest – If ground nest, then it could be mud dauber
- Type of the nest – if the nest is made of paper, then it could be paper wasp colony
- Color and size
Step 4: Determine a treatment plan
The treatment plan should depend on the size and number of the wasp colony/colonies and also the nest location. Also, consider the other factors like if anyone is allergic to insect stings. Check point 1 of this article for treatment plans.
Wasp Stings and Their Allergic Reactions
When wasps sting, a majority of people experience slight soreness and redness at the point of attack. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are allergic to the sting. If the person is allergic, the symptoms are much more pronounced. In allergic reactions, the immune system overreacts. Such kind of reactions are usually caused by paper wasps and can vary from being irritable to being life-threatening. Below are some allergic reactions to wasp sting:
- Rashes or breakouts on the skin away from the point of attack.
- Lightheadedness or headaches that may cause seizures or suppress your ability to concentrate or think.
- Difficulty breathing due to the swollen glands that block the airflow in the body. If you experience this symptom, get immediate professional help.
- Anaphylaxisis a life-threatening allergic reaction. This includes rapid or weak pulse, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and a tingling sensation in the body. This needs a prescription for an epinephrine autoinjector that reduces the symptoms immediately.
Treatment for Wasp Stings
- Apply cold water or ice to reduce swelling at the point of attack.
- Apply a mixture of water and baking soda, topical steroids, meat tenderizer, or calamine lotion to the affected area to reduce pain and itching.
- A sting victim with a past history of anaphylaxis or sting allergy should be immediately referred to a medical professional, even if the victim is asymptomatic.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen to get rid of the pain. For itchiness, take over-the-counter antihistamine medications.
When to Call a Professional to Get Rid of Wasps
- When you have taken all the precautions and still see large swarms of wasps around your property, it’s time to call for professional help.
- When you have tried to get rid of wasps using the chemical methods, but you still see wasps coming back, then call the pest control expert, who can apply stronger chemicals to kill the wasps.
- When you know that you are dealing with a large nest or multiple nests, attempting to get rid of wasp nests can put you in danger of being stung. Call the professionals to do the job.
If you are facing wasp infestation or cannot locate the nest to get rid of wasps, call the pest control expert at (209) 832-7300.