How to Get Rid of a Wasp Nest

There are about 1,000 species of social wasps. Many people are familiar with those that build paper nests. Photo courtesy of Peeples Gary, USFWS.

Wasps begin scouting for new homes in early spring. They like sheltered places with easy access to food, like under a branch of a mature tree, or—unfortunately for them and you—the eaves of your house. Paper wasps build their nests from plant fibers supplemented with mud and secretions from their bodies or other plants. Wasps build anew each year; they do not reuse old nests. 

Wasp colonies starve to death after the first frost, except for the queen which hibernates through the winter. In the spring, she looks for a place to build a new nest which she quickly populates as she builds. It’s best to prevent queens from building their new nests right now in early spring.

Wasps are good pollinators and a vital part of the ecosystem. If they build a nest on the edge of your yard, or out in the woods, great! If they build it too close to your deck or house and someone gets stung, you need to do something about it. 

If you act quickly before the nest is built, there’s no need to kill them and, therefore, no need to spray poison all over your property.

To avoid killing wasps and spreading toxic chemicals where you live, build a fake nest. Wasps won’t come within 150 feet of it. Wasps are territorial and apparently don’t have very good eyesight. From a distance, they will think it’s another nest and find another place to build theirs. 

To prevent wasps from making your home their home, you’ll need a paper lunch sack, a wad of newspaper, a loaded staple gun, and a ladder.

Fake wasp nest and large staple gun.

Loosely crumple a sheet or two of newspaper to fill the belly of the lunch sack. Twist the open end of the lunch sack. Find a sheltered, dry place such as under the eaves of your house and staple the bag where it won’t get wet. It should look like a punching bag.

Homemade, fake wasp nest. It makes a good conversation piece.

The first bag I put up finally fell apart after six years. During that time, we only saw two nests on the other side of the deck. They got to the size of a golf ball and then were abandoned. 

You probably already have a nest by your house, or you wouldn’t be Googling it and reading this right now. Put the false nest up anyway. It will drive away an existing nest, which takes some time. Move slowly around that area and be careful until they leave, or wait until fall when they die of natural causes. I don’t think you want to kill them; they’re just doing their job. 

Sure, you could pay $10 for a fake hornet’s nest on the internet, or you can make one yourself in five minutes. Then treat yourself to lunch!