Inspect for Wasps to Avoid the Sting

Yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets and paper wasps are stinging insects that nest on or near structures. While colony sizes start small, the population of stinging insects in nests grows over time and can result in hundreds to thousands of individuals in the case of yellowjackets. Whereas management of large nests requires the assistance of a professional, starter nests can be easily knocked down, repeatedly if necessary, to discourage future nesting. Here are some steps to inspecting for wasps to avoid the sting!


1. Inspection: starting in early June, weekly walks around the perimeter of your property or facility can be used to identify the start of stinging insect nests. This might include paper wasps, which create an open-comb nest, or yellowjackets and bald-faced hornets that create nests wrapped in a papery envelope.

inspecting for nests

A pole can be use to probe difficult to see areas for nests

removing nest

A super soaker with enough force can dislodge a nest.


2. Removal: early nests may only contain a few individuals. These can be knocked down with a pole or by spraying with a hose (or powerful water gun) from a safe distance. It is advised that you wear thick clothing, and conduct work at night using indirect light (do not shine a beam of light directly at the nest). Red filtered light will not be detected by wasps.

3. Extermination: Once nests are on the ground, stomp on them to kill any adults or larvae that are inside.


 4. Repeat: if queens escape, they may return to rebuild the nest somewhere nearby. However, repeated removal of the nest will ultimately discourage wasps from nesting there.

Note: some yellowjacket species will nest in wall voids, and you will see wasps flying in and out of the space during your inspection. A vacuum can be used to reduce the number of wasps that nest in wall voids, as shown in this video.

Staples White Plains (2)

2 thoughts on “Inspect for Wasps to Avoid the Sting

  1. Margaret Riehl

    Seriously? Why do you say to kill paper wasps?? They are not aggressive. Why should we kill insects that are important to the eco-system????

  2. Debra E. Marvin

    you have a good point, Margaret. We are never in favor of killing wasps, bees or hornets where they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. The problem at school buildings is that there is a higher chance that wasps get into windows and wall spaces and could be a danger to people inside. A wasp or bee inside a classroom or other area tends to create chaos, and there is always the chance of someone being stung. Stings can be very painful as well as dangerous to those with sensitivities. Knocking down paper wasp nests on school buildings encourages queens to find other locations where they can peacefully raise a colony. The number of wasps killed in this kind of proactive management is minimal.

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