dealing with wasps

Wasps (Vespula vulgaris) play an important ecological role — they keep other pests, such as greenflies and caterpillars, at bay. They also serve as great pollinators.

However, they can also be pesky little house insects, with stings that are quite painful. This poses a serious problem, especially if you are allergic to wasp stings or have children and pets at home.

That said, here's what you need to know about identifying a wasp infestation and getting rid of it safely.

 Dealing With Wasps: Identifying Wasps from Bees

The first step in dealing with wasps is to confirm that the buzzing fliers you see are wasps - not bees.

  • While bees have round and hairy bodies, wasps are more slender and smoother. They have kidney-shaped eyes and two pairs of wings.
Nest on wall with wasps.Long head wasps. (Image credit: Pixabay)
  • They vary in size depending on their species and age but are typically an inch long. The most common species are yellowjackets, characterized by their yellow and black stripes. Paper wasps are brown, while hornets are black and tend to be the largest, at an average size of 1.25 inches.
  • Like bees, most wasp species are eusocial. This simply means they are highly organized insects that live together in a nest and are led by a queen.
  • ThoughtCo's guide to bees and wasps explains that wasps are more aggressive and may attack even when unprovoked. They can also signal their swarm to attack when threatened, and unlike bees, don't die once they have used their stinger.

Know the Signs of a Wasp Infestation

You can identify a wasp infestation in three ways:

  • If you see solitary wasps wandering inside, mainly where you keep food or dump trash, then it might be a sign of a nest nearby.
  • Wasps build nests out of wasp paper, which they make from chewing up the wood. If you notice chewed up wood and holes or tunnels suddenly appearing on wooden surfaces at home, wasps may be using it to house their swarm.
  • The clearest sign of a wasp infestation are visible nests. They may be in your backyard tree, on a post, or under the eaves.

 Non-Chemical Wasp Removal

When dealing with wasps it makes sense for your home - and your family - to try non-chemical removal methods first:

  • To get rid of wasps without using any chemicals, you may simply crack open a window and shoo them away. Make sure to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or gloves.

  Chemical Wasp Removal

  •  There are insecticide sprays that can kill or repel wasps. It's best to follow the instructions for each brand of spray.
  • Another suggestion is to fill a spray bottle with water and two tablespoons of dish soap. Spray it into the nest to clog the pores, which kills the wasps in the process.

Dealing with Wasps: Keeping Them away

If you've successfully gotten rid of a wasp infestation or are hoping to prevent one from happening, these methods for keeping your home wasp-free can help.

  • Cover trash cans.
  • Keep food in proper containers.
  • Keep your sink clean at all times.
  • Keep the exterior of your home, such as your yard, clean and free of fruit or trash lying around.

If you've tried all of the above for dealing with wasps and the wasp infestation persists, call your local exterminator for help.

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