How do I get rid of the wasps in my yard?

A Question of the Week

bald-faced hornet nest

Stinging insects are often of great concern to gardeners and homeowners, especially those who are allergic. Wasps colonies get bigger as the season goes along and are much more noticeable in the late summer and early fall. A handful of wasp species are highly aggressive, and their nests are not well suited to being near areas that people frequent. Yellowjackets and bald-faced hornets will determinedly defend their nests when they are disturbed, giving intruders painful or even life-threatening stings.

Before considering treatment, it is incredibly important to identify which species you have on your property. Not all bee and wasp species are aggressive, and many play vitally important roles in the environment. The vast majority of bees and wasps are beneficial. Even aggressive wasps are important insect predators, so it’s best not to kill them arbitrarily. Avoid nests if you can, and only treat when you can’t.

If you are highly allergic to wasp stings, don’t try to get rid of the nest on your own. If you do decide to eliminate the nest yourself, the first thing you need to do is find and mark the colony. Depending on the species, nests may be in the ground, foundation cracks, trees, or under the protected eaves of buildings. Once you’ve located the nest, you can take care of it with a pressurized can of wasp and hornet spray. Jet sprays that emit a stream of insecticide over a distance of at least 10 feet are best - just make sure to read and follow the instructions on the product label. Wait to treat the nest until after dark when all of the wasps are within, and exit the area immediately after spraying.

Learn more about controlling wasps, bees, and hornets around your home.

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Emma Erler
Landscape and Greenhouse Field Specialist
Instructor Field Specialist
Phone: 603-641-6060
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Ask UNH Extension
Master Gardeners & Extension Specialists
Phone: 1-877-EXT-GROW (1-877-398-4769)