What to do about…wasps?

Probably everyone in the world has to deal wasps at some point in his life. Whether this is due to an unexpected wasp sting at the amusement park or a bunch of wasps flying around your glass of soda on a hot summer day. Fact is that most species of wasps are not a burden to us and that the ones that are only give us inconvenience for a few weeks a year. What can you do to keep wasps away from your soda and what can you do to get rid of a wasp nest? Find out at www.whattodoabout.info.

Wasp species

There are many species of wasps. Wasps are members of the order Hymenoptera, which also includes ants, bees and sawflies. The majority of wasp species are solitary and parasitoid which means that they lay their eggs in the caterpillars of other insects. The most commonly known wasps, such as yellow jackets and hornets, are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial. This means that these wasps are living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. The queen lays an egg in each cell of the nests. When it hatches the grub is fed regurgitated insects by the worker wasps. Adult wasps eat only nectar. Unlike honeybees, the only one in a social wasp colony that will survive the winter is the queen. She will find a place to hibernate in the hollows of trees, under bark, or in the walls of buildings. In the spring the queen crawls out and starts building a few cells. In these cells she lays a few eggs, and nurtures them until they become workers who will do all the work while she lays more eggs. All species of social wasps construct their nests using some form of plant fiber (mostly wood pulp) as the primary material, though this can be supplemented with mud, plant secretions and secretions from the wasps themselves. Multiple fibrous brood cells are constructed, arranged in a honeycombed pattern, and often surrounded by a larger protective envelope. Wood fibers are gathered from weathered wood, softened by chewing and mixing with saliva. The wasps that give the most burden in Europe, North America, southern Africa, New Zealand, and eastern Australia are the Vespula germanica (European wasp, German wasp, or German yellowjacket) and the Vespula vulgaris also known as the common wasp. In North America the eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons) and western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica) are also a burden.

Types of wasps to deal with

First of all ensure that you are not allergic to wasp stings. If you’re not sure whether you have an allergy to wasp stings or not, contact your doctor for an allergy test before you attempt to tackle a wasp’s nest. If you do have an allergy, always call an exterminator to get rid of the wasp’s nest for you. If not you can proceed getting rid of the wasp’s nest yourself. Than you have to find out what kind of wasp’s nest you’re dealing with to give you an indication of the best way to get rid of it. The three main types of wasps you’ll have to deal with are:

Paper wasps:

Paper wasps can be recognized by their long bodies and long legs. Paper wasps are also sometimes called umbrella wasps, because of the design of their nests. Their nests are often compared to an upside down umbrella and the combs with cells for brood rearing are clearly visible. Paper wasps build large, water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material. Paper wasps usually built their nests in sheltered areas such as the end of an open pipe, the eaves of a house or the branches of a tree.

Yellow jackets:

Yellow jackets can be recognized by their distinctive markings, their thick black antennae, short legs in comparison to paper wasps, their occurrence only in colonies, and a rapid, side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing. They build papery-looking nests they build in trees, shrubs, or in protected places such as inside structures, in soil cavities, tree stumps and mouse burrows. Although we despise them as humans, yellow jackets are in fact important predators of pest insects. Yellow jackets can be very aggressive and are able to sting multiple times. They are also known for attacking in swarms.


Hornets are the largest of the eusocial wasp species and are similar in appearance to yellow jackets. They can be recognized by the relatively large top margin of the head and the rounded segment of the abdomen just behind the waist.  Most species only occur in the tropics of Asia, though the European hornet (Vespa crabro), is widely distributed throughout Europe, Russia, North America and Northeast Asia. Like other social wasps, hornets build paper like communal nests of wood pulp. Each nest has one queen, who lays eggs and is attended by workers. Most species make exposed nests in trees and shrubs, but some build their nests underground or in other cavities. In the tropics nests may last the year round, but in most areas the wasp nests die over the winter, with lone queens hibernating until the spring.

Seal garbage cans

The scent of old food can attract wasps, so it’s a good idea to make sure your garbage cans are well sealed. You should also give any garbage cans a good clean with water and disinfectant on a semi-regular basis, to remove any food residue that could attract wasps.

Fruit trees

Fruit trees, and particularly rotting, fallen fruit is a magnet for wasps and bees, so think twice before planting one too close to your house. If you already have fruit trees, it’s a good idea to regularly harvest ripe fruit and to pick any fallen fruit off the ground and dispose of it before the wasps can get to it.

Make a wasp trap

Take a plastic soda bottle and cut the top 1/3 off. Next you flip the removed top so that the nozzle is facing down into the other 2/3 of the bottle. Use tape or staples to fit them both together. Now that’s done partially fill up the bottle with some sweet soda or fruit juice concentrate. You can hang the bottle from a tree or hedge with a string or set it down somewhere. Make sure it’s just far away from where you want to enjoy your own soda but not so far away that that they won’t choose the sweet liquid in the trap over your soda or cold beer. Wasps will enter the bottle but will be unable to get out leaving them to starve or drown in the liquid. Clean and refill the wasp trap every so often to make sure it will keep working.