Wasp Removal & Extermination

wasp

Wasps are a diverse group ranging in size from the smallest recorded flying insect to giants from Indonesia with a 4-inch wingspan. They sport a wide variety of colors; some species are black while others may be metallic greens and blues.

Many of the more than 100,000 known species around the world are beneficial in controlling agricultural pests. Other species are important pollinators.

Wasps fall into two categories: solitary and social. Solitary wasps live alone or in small groups with no social structure. With few exceptions, solitary wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting.

As their name suggests, social wasps nest together in large numbers.*2 When the nest is threatened they will sting to protect it. Many types of social wasps exhibit similar coloring patterns, such as yellow and black stripes.

Types

The different types of wasp found in the US construct their nests in distinctive ways. All the social wasps use some form of pulped plant fiber. Nests may be built almost anywhere, such as underground, in trees, attached to the side of buildings or in wall cavities.

The main types of social wasps are:

  • Yellow Jackets. These are a familiar sight in late summer with their yellow and black pattern. Their nests can be above or below ground and are aggressively protected, making them responsible for the majority of wasp stings in the US. Individuals can sting multiple times in defense of the nest.
  • Paper Wasps. Frequently seen in residential areas, their paper-like nests can be recognized by their umbrella shape which and hang down from a single stalk. Some species resemble small Yellow Jackets in coloring.
  • Hornets. The largest of the common wasps, their nests are big and typically built in trees or on poles. Because of its size, a hornet’s sting can be painful but they are not normally aggressive.

Bees

Viewed as essential pollinators, bees rarely become a nuisance. Where possible pest control experts should be consulted and the hive moved to a safer location.

mud dauber

Life Cycle

Social wasps will normally have one queen in a nest. She lays the eggs, controlling which sex develops depending on the season and needs of the nest. Males hatch from unfertilized eggs to become drones, which later mate with the queen or future queens. Females hatch from fertilized eggs and act as workers.

In late summer, fertile females develop and mate before flying off to spend the winter sheltered from the cold. The old queen and remaining inhabitants of the nest typically die at the start of winter.

Next spring, the new queens emerge to start fresh colonies. Initially, these nests may be the size of a golf ball but by late summer can be bigger than a basketball and contain upward of 20,000 individual wasps.

Most social wasps will feed on live and dead insects, feeding the chewed remains to the larvae in the nest. They are also attracted to sweet food and drinks, such as fallen and rotting fruit.

All wasps undergo a full metamorphosis:

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Pupa
  • Adult wasp

Stings

Only female wasps can sting. Symptoms include pain, with swelling and redness at the site of the sting.

For most people, a wasp sting is a minor problem. If someone is stung repeatedly, the buildup of toxins can lead to medical complications.

A small percentage of the population may suffer a serious allergic reaction to wasp stings. Even a single sting can have life-threatening consequences.

Treatments

Killing individual wasps will not control an infestation. The nest must be treated. Only after the wasps are dead, should the nest be removed.

Treating wasp nests can be dangerous, especially late in summer when they might contain thousands of insects ready to defend it. The safe option is to call a pest control expert for assistance.

An exterminator will identify the type of wasp and treat it accordingly. When dealing with nests located indoors a qualified professional will also know which pesticides are effective and safe.

Do-It-Yourself Treatments

Paper wasp and mud dauber nests can be treated successfully as DIY projects, using sprays available from most home depots.

Sprays and foams are available to destroy all types of nests. Attempts to destroy the nests of aggressive species could easily result in multiple stings.

Treatments are best administered at night when the wasps are dormant. Protective clothing should always be worn and treatment should never be attempted from a ladder.

paper wasp

Professional Treatments

Large nests, those indoors or in hard to reach places should always be treated by a professional pest controller.

Their expertise will ensure the safety of family and pets, not just from the wasps but also through the correct use of any pesticides involved.

Prevention

Preventing wasp infestations is a synthesis of both owner actions as well as climatic conditions.

Taking steps to deter wasps is preferable to treating them after they arrive, as financial damages can sometimes be exceptionally costly. Simple steps to prevent these insects include:

  • Fitting bins with tight lids
  • Picking up any fallen fruit from trees in the yard
  • Removing uneaten foodstuffs and sweet drinks, like sodas

Costs

The costs of DIY treatments vary depending on the pesticide used and the delivery method, e.g. sprays, foam or liquids. These start at around $20 but may be more than $50.

Professional treatments range from $100 to more than $500 according to the type and size of the nest, its location and the area of the country. If building repairs are involved the costs will increase.