Tips for Dealing with Wasps Safely

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What You'll Need
Protective clothing
Plastic bottle
Flashlight with red cellophane cover

Although wasps, such as yellow jackets and hornets, can do positive things like pollinate flowers in your garden, their aggressive, territorial nature and painful stingers classify as a clear hazard, very unwelcome in your home. If you have a wasp nest near your house, you have a few options to eliminate them.

Homemade Traps

If the wasp nest is not close to your house, you might want to reduce their population with a simple water trap. Use a knife to cut a plastic bottle. Cut the curved top off the bottle and discard the bottle cap. Fill the bottle halfway with water and soap and coat the cap thread with jam. Invert the top piece and use tape to hold the two pieces together. Place the trap about four feet above ground. Wasps will fall in and drown.

Remember to empty the trap daily. As more wasps enter the chamber, they may create a “bridge” allowing each to crawl out. The longer the trap is untended to, the more likely they will swarm around it and escape.

WARNING: When handling your trap and moving among wasps, even dead ones, avoid swatting or crushing them. A crushed wasp will release a pheromone signaling others to attack.

Nest Destruction

Unfortunately, if the nest is right on your property, even a trap won’t fully reduce their numbers. To be clear, “nest” destruction in this case refers to the killing of the wasp population that make up the nest, and not destroying the physical nest itself. Once the wasps are dead, the nest structure can be removed and disposed of.

Try these wasp control tips to kill an active wasp nest.

WARNING: Never try to burn an active wasp nest or flood it with water because the wasps will become extremely aggressive.

Safety First

Before approaching the nest, wear protective clothing that covers the whole body, including gloves and a veil to cover your face and neck. Tuck pant legs into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants. Check to make sure you have no exposed areas for the wasp to attack. The best time to get rid of the nest is early morning or late at night when they are at rest.

WARNING: If you are using a flashlight, place a red cellophane cover over the light because they are attracted to yellow light. Similarly, your clothing should not be overly colorful when approaching the nests.

Ground Nests

Yellowjackets sometimes ground nest. While wasps in these nests are easy to kill, they’re often frustrating and dangerous. Many ground nests aren’t even discovered until someone accidentally disturbs them when mowing the lawn, and when that happens, the only priority is removing yourself from the wasps’ stinging range.

However, if you do happen to spot a ground nest of wasps under calm enough circumstances, the pests can be dealt with using pesticides. Once you’ve donned all of the safety gear prescribed above, transport an appropriate amount of pesticide, such as a carbaryl dust ideal for wasps, hornets, and bees, toward the nest location. Dump the powder directly onto the nest’s opening and its immediate surroundings and quickly move away to a safe location.

You can also place a bowl or some object over the nest to seal it. The wasps are not likely to tunnel out, remove in a few weeks and the nest should be dead.

Keep in mind, certain areas have specific laws about what kind of vessel can be used to carry and transport pesticides like Sevin. Be sure to check your local laws to ensure your delivery method is a legal one.

Nests in Structures

Nests like this are concealed within cracks and openings along walls, attics, and other surfaces in homes and structures. Never seal openings like this. While it may seem like an attractive and easy solution, sealing their only exit forces them to burrow in the opposite direction, which often means the interior of your home.

In cases like this, successfully delivering an insecticide all the way to core of the nest is difficult, as the opening is not as cut and dry as a simple hole in the ground.

Additionally, many states have rules regarding the use of pesticides on or in structures. For example, cabaryl is only legal when it is applied to turf and plants growing outside. Distributing it inside the opening of a structure-based nest may violate your local laws.

Natural repellents are an option here of course, but their effectiveness is limited. For severe structure-based wasp and hornet infestations, the intervention of a professional exterminator is required.

If you do try to apply repellents or poisons on your own, only spray the surfaces on or around the nest. Never spray the wasps themselves. They won’t die immediately upon spraying, and they will go down stinging.


Whether or not you’ve had to deal with wasps and hornets once already, stopping them from coming in the first place is a good idea.

Simple upkeep like sealing exterior holes and cracks that provide good nesting spots, and even just removing garbage, rotting fruit, and exposed pet foods will stop wasps from being attracted to your yard.