How to Get Rid of Wasps Safely—and for Good

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated August 23, 2022
A woman standing by wooden house
Photo: Halfpoint Images / Moment / Getty Images

Let these insects feel the sting of defeat

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There are many reasons why you should rid your home of wasps. These insects are quick to sting when threatened, and that sting packs a brutal punch. As a matter of fact, wasp stings cause severe injury, and possibly even death, to those with severe allergies. 

In other words, you don’t want any yellowjackets, hornets, and the rest to move into your yard or even your home. Fortunately, you can learn how to get rid of wasps for good.

Why Do I Have Wasps on My Property? 

Wasps migrate from yard to yard throughout the fairer seasons, so it is likely dumb luck that a colony picked your property to set down roots (or nests.) However, there are some common reasons why wasps are drawn to certain areas, such as shelter from predators and the elements, readily available food sources, and, of course, plenty of flowers to pollinate. Wasps are not nearly as picky as their less fearsome cousins (bees) when it comes to pollination, as they enjoy just about any flower out there. 

How to Prep for Wasp Removal

Your first step for wasp removal preparation is to gear up. Safety gear is an absolute must when dealing with wasps, as even those who are not allergic to stings face serious health risks if attacked by many insects at once. A single wasp stings several times repeatedly, so encountering a dozen or more is a risky prospect indeed. 

Wear these items when working on wasp removal:

  • A hat that offers as much coverage as possible

  • Thick work gloves

  • Thick socks

  • A face covering, such as a bandana or multiple masks

  • Glasses or eye protection of some kind

  • A long-sleeved shirt

  • Long denim, canvas, or corduroy pants 

Wasp Nests

Now that you are geared up, your next step in preparation is to locate the nests. Some nests are out in the open and easy to spot, while others take a bit of sleuthing on your part. Common wasp nest locations include dense bushes, wall voids, attics, under roof eaves, and anywhere else that offers adequate protection from the elements. Wasps are known to build nests just about anywhere, however, including outdoor playsets and inside of mailboxes, so search with caution. 

It is also helpful to learn what the nests look like, though you can also just look for wasps heading in and out of any suspicious areas. Generally speaking, above-ground wasps’ nests are round and made from a paper-like material that resembles mud. As a note, many wasps build nests underground or at ground level, but these are solitary nests housing just a single wasp. A single wasp isn’t a huge deal so focus primarily on above-ground nests.

6 wasp removal protective gear items, including hat, long-sleeve shirt and gloves

How to Get Rid of Wasps

Here are some simple ways to deliver an eviction notice to any wasps lingering on your property. It is worth noting, however, that wasps do provide a beneficial service for the environment, in addition to preying on other outdoor pests. Some of these methods are deadly to wasps and should only be used as a measure of last resort (when you feel threatened.) 

Hang Up Wasp Traps

  1. This is a budget-friendly and easy way to get a handle on your wasp problem, as these traps cost anywhere from $3 to $30, depending on the size and any additional features. 

  2. These traps feature a wasp-attracting liquid, so hang them near the nests you previously identified. 

  3. When wasps crawl into the trap, they get stuck and drown. If you want a humane method, look elsewhere. 

  4. Be sure to regularly replace these traps, as they accumulate dead wasps and are not exactly a pleasure to look at. 

  5. This method does not remove the nests, but it does empty them, allowing you to safely remove them later.

  6. For those on a budget, create your own traps by cutting the top off of a soda bottle and adding a few inches of fruit juice combined with dish liquid. Invert the bottle, replace the top, and hang it up. 

Give Them the Old Spray Treatment 

  1. Wasps are insects and are susceptible to many of the same chemicals that are used to treat other infestations. 

  2. With that said, there are many sprays available in stores and online that are designed to deal with wasps and allow you to spray from a distance. 

  3. Don your protective clothing and spray any active nests on or around your property. 

  4. Do this late in the evening to ensure that the wasps are dormant and that both workers and the queen are present. 

  5. Respray the nests each evening for a few days until it is no longer active.

  6. Of course, these sprays also work on solitary wasps if you see one or two lingering about. 

Create a Natural Homemade Spray or Repellant

  1. If you want to get rid of wasps without the use of commercial insecticides, go for a homemade spray or repellant.

  2. For an effective spray, mix two tablespoons of dish soap with water and pour them into a spray bottle. 

  3. Spray this mixture on the nests after donning safety gear. Do this in the evening to ensure maximum efficiency. Repeat nightly as necessary. Boiling water also works for this purpose, but be careful. 

  4. For an effective natural repellant, mix two cups of apple cider vinegar, two cups of sugar, and one cup of water. Stir thoroughly and place in an open container. 

  5. Lay this mixture near any nests. It will attract the wasps, thanks to the sugar, and kill them, thanks to the vinegar. 

Manually Remove Nests

  1. For the extraordinarily brave, manually removing nests is an option, though only attempt this if you are absolutely certain you are not allergic to wasp stings. 

  2. To that end, double up on protective gear to ensure your safety. No amount of coverage is too much when dealing with angry wasps. Also, this process only works for nests you can actually reach. Standing on a ladder while dealing with a wasp nest is simply too risky. 

  3. Approach the nest slowly and quietly at night, which ensures most wasps are present and dormant. 

  4. Retrieve a large and sturdy garbage bag, don’t go cheap here, and slowly cover the nest. 

  5. Once covered, slowly detach the nest using a free hand and let it drop into the garbage bag. 

  6. Immediately seal the bag and place it inside of a sealed garbage can, preferably away from the house. 

Hire a Pro

  1. Listen, getting rid of wasps is not exactly a fun time, so consider hiring a local exterminator to do the job for you. 

  2. For extensive infestations, nothing beats a qualified pro, as they are trained for this very issue.

  3. When talking to an exterminator, give them exact details as to the number of nests on your property and where they are located. 

  4. On average, professional wasp removal costs around $375, which is a bargain compared to facing a swarm of angry stingers. 

How to Prevent Wasps From Coming Back

Now that your property is free from ornery wasps, take some preventive steps to ensure they never move back in. 

  • Treat future nesting spots with residual liquid insecticides. Spray this in the areas that used to house nests and any other spots you think wasps will gravitate toward in the future. Repeat this process as indicated by the instructions. 

  • Remove food sources, such as fallen fruit and berries, scraps of discarded meals, and even pet food. Seal outdoor garbage cans and cover up compost piles. Finally, move any hummingbird feeders a reasonable distance from the home. Remember, wasps are not picky and they love both protein and sugar.

  • Seal up doors, windows, and cracks to prevent wasps from entering the home or a screened-in porch. Use caulk to fill in any obvious gaps and check on your screens to make sure they are in good condition. Wasps easily squeeze through tight spaces, so be thorough here. 

  • Use a variety of herbs and homemade repellants. Wasps dislike many essential oils, including clove, lemongrass, and peppermint. Spray liberally.

  • Think about changing up the flowers and plants throughout your yard. Many flowers and plants attract wasps but others, such as pennyroyal, marigold, wormwood, mint, basil, and geranium, help keep them at bay. 

  • Give your yard a thorough inspection every month or so, looking for newly-built nests. 

DIY vs. Hire a Pro

Of the above methods of wasp removal, hanging up traps is the safest for average homeowners. All of the other methods put you at some risk of ending up on the receiving end of a pointy stinger. For absolute safety, a professional wasp removal service or a qualified exterminator is your best bet. These pros handle more wasps in a day than regular people see in a year, and they use that experience to quickly remove both individual wasps and populated nests from your property. They will also likely find a few nests you missed during your inspections.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What scent will keep wasps away?

Wasps dislike a great many essential oils, such as clove, geranium, and lemon grass. Combine a few drops of each in a cup and place this cup outside to repel wasps from your immediate surroundings. 

Are wasps active at night?

Wasps don’t sleep in the way we do, but they are relatively inactive at night, sticking to the confines of the nest, in what we call a dormant state. Additionally, female wasps hibernate throughout the winter. 

Do wasps sting unprovoked?

No, wasps only attack when they feel threatened. A sting may seem unprovoked to us, but we likely got too close to a nest. Threatened wasps do, however, send out a strong pheromone that instantly attracts any other wasps in the area. 

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