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How to Get Rid of Wasps in Your Yard and Garden

Sick of sharing your outdoor space with buzzing, stinging wasps? Get rid of them with these DIY tips.

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how to get rid of wasps

Few things can break up an outdoor barbeque, picnic, or celebration like the presence of wasps. Aggressive, buzzing, stinging pests, wasps scavenge human food and can make even the most peaceful outdoor area impossible to enjoy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to share your space with wasps forever. Here at The Pest Dude, we teach people to get rid of pests using convenient, safe, and accessible DIY methods. 

In this blog, we’ll help you learn how to get rid of wasps and reclaim your property – and when to call a professional for help. 

Identifying Different Wasp Species

To effectively control the wasps on your property, you need to know which species you’re dealing with.

Here are a few of the most common:

Yellow Jackets

yellow jacket wasp

There are several species of social wasps known as “yellow jackets.” Social wasps are active outside their nests during daylight hours and assemble as a colony in their nest during the evening.

Yellow jackets are the smallest of the wasp species and tend to be about ½” long.

Most yellow jacket species, including the common German yellowjacket, tend to build nests underground, and workers come and go from the nest via underground tunnels that end in a hole at the surface of the lawn, garden, or soil.

Yellowjackets often repurpose abandoned rodent burrows or underground cavities for their nests or may use manmade openings at ground level, like voids in concrete block foundations.

Yellowjackets are aggressive wasps that eat live prey, like flies, caterpillars, and other insects. They also forage on high-sugar and carbohydrate foods, like garbage, beer, and fruit, at and around picnic sites.

Paper Wasps

paper wasp

Paper wasps are members of the genus Polistes. These wasps are large, with long, slender bodies and a highly venomous sting.

Paper wasps are common in woodlands and grasslands and are known to build nests made of papery-looking material.

Their nests are bulbous and paper lantern-shaped and tend to have one tier that opens downward. Their nests tend to be suspended beneath horizontal surfaces such as window ledges, roof eaves, or porch roofs.

Hornets

hornet

The most significant difference between hornets and wasps is size. Hornets are a species of social wasps known for building large, gray-brown nests that hang from trees or bushes. These nests consist of several tiers of cells and tend to look like large, inverted teardrops.

The bald-faced hornet, also known as the aerial yellowjacket, is especially common in the US. These hornets are large with yellow antennae and black bodies with white markings on their abdomens and thoraxes.

They can be distinguished from similar-looking, ground-nesting hornets by a noticeable separation between the insect’s eye and the base of their mandible.

Mud Daubers

mud dauber

Mud daubers are distinguishable from other wasp species by their long, slender, delicate-looking bodies. They tend to be black with light markings and a distinctive metallic sheen.

Unlike social wasps, mud daubers don’t live in colonies. Instead, the females use mud to build nest tubes under roof eaves, in garages and outbuildings, or around the foundations of homes.

Because mud daubers are docile wasps who rarely sting and because they kill spiders, many gardeners and pest management professionals consider them a beneficial species in small numbers.

How to Get Rid of Wasps: A Step-by-Step Guide

Remove wasps safely with these tips:

1. Gather the gear you need to stay safe

Wasps can be aggressive insects, and wasp stings can range from painful to critically serious. Allergic reactions to wasp stings can develop anywhere on the body, and symptoms can range from pain and swelling to anaphylactic shock.

With that in mind, prepare for safe wasp removal by wearing your PPE, especially if you’re deploying control methods during the day.

At a minimum, we recommend wearing boots, heavy coveralls, veiled headwear, and heavy gloves made of leather or canvas. If your wasp infestation is severe, invest in a professional wasp suit.

Secure all cuffs with velcro closures or masking tape to prevent wasps from getting under the protective suit.

2. Locate the nest

Next, you’ll need to locate the wasp nest. This is easier if you know what kind of wasp is infesting your property.

While some species of wasps, like bald-faced hornets, prefer to nest in trees, others (like paper wasps) build nests in man-made structures (like in the eaves of homes). Other wasps, like German yellowjackets, nest underground.

If you’re unsure where wasps are nesting, look for hiding places like wall cavities, railings, fence posts, hidden tree branches, and the rafters of outbuildings.

If you still can’t find the nest, observe the wasps in your yard. If you watch them for a while, you’ll notice them going from one location to another, and you can follow them until you find out where they’re nesting.

3. Choose a wasp removal technique

Now that you’ve located the wasp nest and identified the wasp type(s) present, you’ll need to deploy your control method of choice.

Depending on the type of wasp present, here are a few we recommend:

Natural Home Remedies

Boiling Water

If you’re targeting ground-nesting wasps, boiling water can be an effective solution.

For best results, we recommend filling a tea kettle with boiling water and pouring it into ground nest entrances each evening for several days.

Pros: Easy, affordable, kills wasps on contact, destroys wasp nests, non-toxic, will not endanger non-target species 

Cons: High risk of being stung, no residual protection, usually requires several treatments to be effective

Water and Soap

Another non-toxic, eco-friendly way to get rid of wasps is with liquid dishwasher soap and hot water. To use this tactic effectively, add a few squirts of liquid dishwasher soap to boiling water before you pour it onto the nest.

The addition of the soap coats wasps, making it more difficult for any wasps that survive the boiling water to take flight and sting you. This allows you to follow up with a second dose of hot water right away, killing wasps faster and more effectively.

For added protection, carry a piece of steel wool or a rag with you, and use it to seal the nest’s entrance hole immediately after treatment.

Pros: Easy, affordable, non-toxic, eco-friendly, effective

Cons: Time-consuming, not appropriate for aerial nests

Vinegar Traps

Make a trap with apple cider vinegar to kill individual wasps and non-social species. To do this, simply fill a shallow container with apple cider vinegar, some sugar, and a few drops of dish soap.

Place the trap anywhere you’ve noticed wasp activity, like on an outdoor picnic table.

The smell will attract wasps, while the soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar and drowns the wasps when they land on it.

Pros: Easy, ideal for targeting non-social or individual wasps

Cons: Will not kill wasp colonies

Store-Bought Traps

Another great way to kill individual wasps outside their nests is to use store-bought wasp traps (like these).

These traps work by using a sugar water mixture to attract wasps and making it impossible to crawl back out of the trap once they’ve entered it.

Pros: Affordable, safe, non-toxic, easy to use in outdoor spaces

Cons: Won’t kill the entire colony of nests, must be changed frequently, can be unsightly

Chemical Treatments

Pesticides

While home methods can work effectively for certain wasp species, aerial-dwelling wasps can be difficult or impossible to kill with hot water.

For these wasps, pesticide sprays are likely the most effective options. Insecticide sprays are ideal for controlling social wasp species and can be deployed safely during the nighttime hours when most of the colony is in the nest.

For best results, we recommend using an aerosol spray formulation of a fast-acting wasp killer (like this one), which will kill all workers in the nest.

Usually, these sprays contain permethrin or pyrethrin insecticide, and some can be applied with a long pole that allows you to deploy the insecticide from a distance.

Another insecticide option is carbaryl or pyrethroid dust (like this one), which should be applied with a hand duster directly onto the exposed nest or into the ground nest opening.

After treating the nest directly, apply more dust around the entry hole to kill any workers that may return to the area.

While dust formulations can be effective for wasp colony control, they’re harder to apply and slower-acting than aerosol and liquid pesticide formulations.

Pros: Fast-acting, long-lasting, ideal for controlling wasp colonies

Cons: May contain toxic ingredients, can be dangerous for kids, pets, and non-target species

Note: If you plan to use insecticide sprays or dust, avoid applying these products on windy days when a strong gust could blow the product back on you. Additionally, wear sting-proof clothing (like a wasp suit) since spraying or dusting a hive will cause the wasps within it to temporarily swarm. 

4. Remove the nest

wasps nest removal

Once the nest has been treated, it should be scraped down and removed so it doesn’t attract other pests (like beetles) and so any remaining wasp pupae don’t re-establish a worker force.

To keep yourself safe during nest removal, wait until the day after treatment to break up the nest. If you can safely reach the nest, slip it into a large, heavy plastic garbage bag and remove it.

If you can’t reach the nest, use a long pole to knock it down. Once the nest is free of its attachment point, seal the bag and dispose of it in a sealed trash can.

To prevent wasps from returning, use a residual insecticide spray to treat the outside of your home and other structures, paying particular attention to areas like the space beneath eaves and around windows.

How to Keep Wasps Away from Your Property

wasps nest

Once you’ve eliminated your current wasp infestation, you’ll want to keep the pests away from your property.

Here are a few proven prevention methods to try:

  • Remove wasp food sources. Wasps love foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. With this in mind, remove food sources that may attract them. We recommend hanging hummingbird feeders far from your home, removing fallen fruit and berries around outdoor trees, covering compost piles, and using tight-fitting lids on all outdoor garbage cans.
  • Check for nests regularly. Because it’s impossible to get rid of all wasps, you’ll want to stay vigilant about nests. Check areas like eaves, trees, and bushes for signs of new nests. Treat them with store-bought insecticide spray immediately and remove dead nest shells.
  • Fill holes. If you notice small holes in your lawn or near man-made structures like patios or walkways, fill them immediately since solitary and underground wasps will look for open cavities to use as nesting sites.
  • Remove moisture. Wasps are attracted to liquid and will establish colonies wherever they can find sources of moisture, like open pools, leaky faucets, and standing water in potted plants. With this in mind, remove as much standing water as possible from your yard or outdoor space, fix leaky faucets, and avoid leaving pet bowls outside for an extended period.

Are Wasps Taking Over Your Outdoor Space? We can Help!

Wasps are annoying, problematic, and sometimes dangerous pests. Wasp stings can vary from painful to critically dangerous, and even people who aren’t allergic to wasps don’t want to share a picnic or gathering with them.

Fortunately – you don’t have to. Using the DIY wasp removal tips in this blog, you can kill wasps in and around your outdoor space and reclaim your patio, lawn, or garden.

If your DIY efforts don’t work or you want additional assistance, a professional pest management company can help. We have an extensive network of pest management professionals in your area!

Contact us at (844) 532-0076 to find a pest removal service near you.

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Wasp Control FAQs

Wasps are attracted to yards that offer them food, water, and shelter. Removing these three resources can make your yard less attractive for wasps and less likely to experience a wasp infestation.

Essential oils can be effective wasp repellents. Peppermint oil, for example, is a natural repellent that works against wasps. 

Clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils can also be effective deterrents. 

For best results, make a homemade deterrent spray by mixing your essential oil of choice into a spray bottle filled with water. While the mixture won’t kill wasps, it will keep them away, so spray it on areas you’d like to protect, like your picnic table or patio furniture. 

Wasps are attracted to sweet smells and are usually drawn to homes by the smell of flowers, fruit trees, or kitchen waste. Since wasps also feed on protein in the spring and early summer, they’ll visit homes that have easily accessible pet food or garbage containers or which have pre-existing infestations of bugs that wasps like to eat, including ants, aphids, and spiders.

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Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 25+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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