You hear something buzzing around by one of your windows, and you shrug, figuring it’s a hummingbird. You go on about your business, and then you head out later to soak in some sun on your patio.
Next, you notice something black and yellow crawling on the side of your house. No big deal, probably a bumblebee. Or is it?
You walk over for a closer look and then leap backward. It isn’t a bumblebee, it’s a wasp. And there is its nest. And now that you think about it … there is another in the tree across the way. Great—wasps have found their way into your yard.
What can you do about it? Will you need help getting rid of wasps, or is this a problem you can manage on your own?
Types of Wasps
It is always helpful to begin by identifying the types of wasps that are living in your yard. There are actually quite a few different types of wasps, and some are easy to confuse with similar-looking species like bees and hornets.
Some common types of wasps include:
• Yellow jackets
• Bald-faced hornets (some species identified as hornets are actually types of wasps)
• Paper wasps
• Mud wasps
• Pollen wasps
• Mud daubers
• Potter wasps
There are also many other less common types of wasps, including some quite unusual looking ones like the American pelecinid wasp and the Ichneumon wasp. Interestingly enough, both these wasps look quite intimidating, but they can help to control beetle populations. So depending on your other pest problems, you might want some of these helpful wasps around—in small numbers of course!
One good source for proper wasp identification with plenty of photos is the Adkins Bee Removal website.
How to Get Rid of Wasps in Your Yard
What can you do about wasp control on your own? Here are a few simple suggestions you can try out:
• Squish up a paper back and hang it from a tree or from your eaves. Yes, it sounds weird, but it can work. Wasps are very territorial and may mistake it for another nest. They will seek new territory rather than try to stake a claim.
• Spray soapy water on the nests. This is lethal; the danger of course is in getting too close to the nest while you are doing it. For this reason, it is best to try and spray the solution through a garden hose from a fair distance away. Alternately, some people report good results spraying WD-40.
• Grow plants which wasps abhor such as wormwood, mint, eucalyptus and citronella.
• Hang or set out plastic bags filled with water. Why this deters wasps is unknown, and there are varying reports of its success.
• If you can get close to the nest without disturbing it, enclose it swiftly inside a trash bag, ensuring it is entirely sealed off. Then leave it out in the sun for a day. The wasps should die.
• While many wasp nests are aerial, there are underground nests as well. Pour a solution of soapy water down the entrance and then put a large rock on top. Generally there are two entrances, so search around until you find both of them.
• If you find a brand new nest which still isn’t very big, you may be able to simply knock it down and crush it under your foot. Be very cautious using this approach.
• Consider using a natural insecticide spray. You will notice that nowhere in this list do we urge you to buy a commercial insecticide which contains harsh chemicals. You don’t want to use products like those because they can harm other insects, animals, and plants in your yard. You want to find a natural, ecologically friendly method for getting rid of the wasps without disrupting the surrounding environment.
Hiring a Professional Exterminator for Wasp Control
If none of these approaches are sufficient (or you just don’t want to risk getting that close to the wasps), you have two different options. The first is to try and coexist with the wasps. If the wasp population isn’t totally out of control, this actually can be very sensible. Wasps can help control beetles, aphids, and other pests in your yard. If you have a garden, this can be a win-win for you and the wasps. If you do get rid of the wasps, you may want to keep a watchful eye on the other insect populations in your garden.
If however the wasps are behaving particularly aggressively, are getting into your house, or simply are too much to handle, you may want to call a wasp exterminator. This is the safest and most efficient option. It doesn’t require you to disturb the nests and risk getting stung. The exterminator also can make sure that the wasps are truly gone so that you can return to enjoying your summer in peace.