Get rid of a wasp nest
Attention, removing a wasp’s nest is best left to a pest exterminator. It doesn’t cheer anyone up: a wasp’s nest in the house. Removing the wasp’s nest is of course the logical step, but that’s not something you should underestimate. Below you can read everything you need to know about wasps and wasp nests. But beware, when in doubt, always call in a professional.
What are wasps?
Logically wasp nests are built by wasps. In appearance they are almost all wasps yellow with black, so as a human you won’t easily see a difference between the species. Yet there are about 50,000 species of wasps living on this earth. But don’t worry, only a few of them live in the Netherlands.
The most common Dutch wasp is the ordinary wasp (Vespula vulgaris). These wasps grow to an average length of 17 to 20 mm. This is the species you will mainly find in your wasp nest. These vicious creatures are often annoying and can also sting. Another common species is the Germanic wasp (Vespula germanica). These are on average 12 to 15 mm in size.
The common and German wasp are both species that make their nest from paper and also aggressively defend their nest when it comes down to it. They are also popularly known as the ‘lemonade wasps’ because they always fly around your glass when you sit outside in summer. The difference between the species is in the drawing on the body, as the German wasp has 3 black dots on its head.
Other species are the early wasp, gall wasp and horn wasp, but we won’t go into that further in this article.
What is a wasp’s nest actually?
The characteristic feature of wasps is that they live in colonies. The fertile females are the queens of the colonies. In spring they mate with the winged males. The workers are the ones who look for food, build the nest and take care of the larvae.
Each wasp species builds its nest in its own way. In any case, each year a new nest is made, the construction of which starts in the spring. The queen is the first wasp to start building. The queen is the largest wasp of the colony and therefore also the strongest. In other words, the queen is one of the few wasps capable of surviving autumn and winter. As soon as she has started building the nest, she lays her eggs as soon as possible from the males she has mated with over the past year. The sperm of these male wasps can keep the kings in her body for up to 7 months.
The nest is built from finely chewed wood and plant fibres. The saliva of the wasps turns the wood into a kind of paper. So if you see a wasp gnawing at dry wood, it is collecting material for the nest.
A wasp’s nest that is completely finished has an average diameter of 20 to 35 centimetres and a wall thickness of 2 centimetres. Of course there are exceptions to these dimensions. A nest often has several entrances so that the animals can fly into the nest from all sides. On the inside of the nest you will find 6-sided combs. These combs are always surrounded by 1 or more balloon shaped enclosures. In the cells of the comb the eggs are laid by the queen.
Locations of wasp nests
It is important for the wasps that the nest can withstand different weather conditions. That’s why they quickly choose to build their nest around a house, because here the nest can hang sheltered from rain, snow and storms. Wasps search the smallest holes and corners to find a suitable spot. These are often – unfortunately for us – places that are difficult to reach. Think of nests in them:
- Trees (tree trunks) and shrubs
- Roof gutters and edges
- Garages and garden sheds
- Cavity walls
- In the attic
A nest in a tree is fairly easy to remove, but if you have a wasp’s nest in your cavity wall it is less pleasant. It can therefore take a lot of time to safely remove such a nest. If you are unlucky, a whole wall has to be broken open. The wasps will also nest in the cavity wall itself, destroying the insulation material of your house.
Do I have a wasp’s nest in my house?
You can see a wasp’s nest in a tree, but how do you find out if there is a hidden wasp’s nest in or around your house? The most striking thing is of course when you have a large number of wasps flying around the house, in the garden or on your terrace. This is not just a single wasp, but sometimes dozens. At the end of the summer up to 5,000 wasps can live in the colony.
To find the nest, you simply have to follow the route of the returning wasps. This is often easiest at the end of the summer, when most wasps live in the nest. So follow the route of the wasps and you will automatically see a large sphere hanging, with characteristic paper-like walls.
Removing a wasp’s nest
After you have found the nest, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. But removing such a nest is not something you can do in between. A good preparation is half the work. There is also a difference between fighting wasps and removing a nest. How does that work?
Attention in case of wasp allergy
If the wasp’s nest is close to your home, then it is wise to start fighting the wasps first. A wasp sting is very nasty and can swell in no time and cause irritation.
If you are allergic to the wasps, there is even a chance that your respiratory tract will swell, causing you to be very stuffy or even suffocate. In such a case a person should use an Epipen as soon as possible or else go to hospital as soon as possible. Especially if you have not been stung before, you don’t know if you are allergic or not and don’t want to run the risk of being stung accidentally.
First fight, then remove your wasp’s nest
It therefore goes without saying that you must kill the wasps before you remove the nest. Removing an active wasp’s nest is simply not possible. All wasps live in this nest, so if you would just take them, they all panic and get angry.
In other words, the wasps have to be killed first, before you can safely remove the nest yourself. In some cases – when a nest is in the garden, for example – you leave the nest in place after fighting the wasps themselves. Wasps will never re-use a wasp’s nest. Once a nest is empty, it will no longer be a danger for the future.
Fighting a wasp’s nest: do it yourself or let it do it?
When you have found the nest and you want to get rid of it, it is time to prepare a plan of action. You can do two things: fight the wasps yourself and remove the nest, or have it done by a professional.
Getting to work yourself
Of course, no one will stop you if you want to tackle a wasp’s nest yourself. But don’t just start, you have to take a few measures before you start. To start with, your personal safety is important, make sure you wear the right clothing (wasp suit). A wasp suit is made of a special, thick fabric that repels the wasps as much as possible. But if a wasp is really angry, it will also be able to sting through the suit.
If you have protected yourself as much as possible, most people first start with a so-called wasp powder. This is a powder that you spray on the spots where the wasps fly to and from the nest or else in the nest itself. A wasp will sit on the spot where you have sprayed the powder and will take the powder to the nest. The powder is poisonous, so the wasps in the nest will die by themselves. More about this.
Hiring a professional
A professional is trained in fighting and removing nests and will always work according to a fixed method. First of all, he will trace the nest and see where it is located. Depending on the level of difficulty of the spot, the right solution will be found.
As just explained, the professional will also first kill the wasps himself, for this he can use different pesticides. After the wasps have been fought and the nest has been removed, we can still look for possible solutions to prevent new wasps from wanting to make a nest on the same spot in the future.
Why hire a professional?
Hiring a professional is usually a better idea than working with it yourself, and there are several reasons for this. In the first place, hiring a professional always guarantees the removal of the litter. The expert will not leave until the litter has completely disappeared from your house.
A professional also has knowledge about wasps and wasp nests, which you don’t have yourself. For example, an expert will always ensure that he works with sustainable substances that are only harmful to wasps and do not affect the rest of the environment. He can also give advice and come up with solutions to prevent wasps from sitting in the same place again next year and how to prevent wasp nests from forming in your house, garden or garage at all.
If you have chosen to tackle the nest yourself, you have to be aware that wasp powder is not a panacea that completely solves your wasp problem. For example, some powders are not at all suitable for very large wasp nests. Most of the powders you can buy cost between €8.00 and €17.00, depending on the brand, quantity and type. The ingredients are also different, each brand uses a slightly different mix of poisons.
Most powders are for sale online and offline. Think for example of drugstores and garden centres. A garden centre often employs experts in the field of pesticides who can explain to you how the product works and what it does.
Once you have bought the pesticide, it is wise to apply it at night, because then the fewest wasps are active and you have less risk of making a wasp angry. You still need to wear the protective clothing! Then apply the powder (or spray in some cases) to the openings of the wasp’s nest. This should be repeated several times until you are sure that you have killed the wasps.
Sometimes it’s not possible to eradicate a nest completely, especially in large nests with a lot of inhabitants. This may be because the remedy is not powerful enough or doesn’t contain the right active ingredients. In such a case it is wise to call in a professional. He or she will often have the right and effective materials at hand.
What absolutely must you do not at a wasp’s nest?
Getting started with powder or hiring a professional are the two best things you can do at a wasp’s nest. To prevent you from going wrong by accident, here are 2 things you absolutely must NOT do at a wasp’s nest.
Don’t set fire
Burning the wasps sounds like an effective way to kill them, but it is very dangerous. Firstly, there is a fire hazard and the flame can spread to your garden fence, bushes or even your house. Secondly, the escaped wasps become very aggressive and will try to attack anything in their path.
Don’t pour water over them
Fire does not work, but neither does water. It kills only a very small part of the wasps, and the remaining wasps will attack everyone again. Chances are that with water, for example, your cavity wall will suffer enormous damage, while the nest will remain in place.
Removing an empty wasp’s nest
As I said, wasps build a new nest every year. An old nest will not be inhabited again. If you know for sure that a nest has been hanging around for more than a year and you don’t see any wasps flying around, you can remove the wasp’s nest by, for example, cutting it off with a sharp knife.
Conclusion Removing the wasp’s nest
Removing a wasp’s nest is not without risk. In the end it is possible to fight the wasps and remove the nest yourself. But it is something that involves risks, especially if you do it the wrong way. Don’t underestimate how terrifying a whole group of angry wasps can be, and you can get seriously injured.
So if you are in doubt whether you can remove a wasp’s nest yourself, just hire a professional. He will know what to do and will remove the wasp’s nest for you with so little risk.