How to Get Rid of Hornet Nest: Easy and Safe Solutions

Hornets are infamous for their aggressive behavior and potentially painful stings. As summer approaches, these buzzing insects may start building nests in and around your home, posing a threat to your family and pets. Knowing how to safely remove hornet nests is essential to keep your property safe and comfortable.

There are several types of hornets, with the baldfaced hornet, yellow jackets, and paper wasps being the most common. Each species has its own nesting habits, from constructing nests in trees and bushes to burrowing underground or finding shelter under eaves. It’s crucial to identify the hornet species and the location of the nest before attempting removal.

The best time to remove hornet nests is during the early stages of development when the queen has not yet amassed a large colony. Observing the nest from a safe distance will help you determine the entry and exit points, allowing you to devise a plan for removal. When dealing with hornets, caution is key – always prioritize safety and consider professional help if needed.

Understanding Hornets and Their Nests

Hornet Species and Behaviors

There are several hornet species, including the European hornet and the Asian giant hornet. They are social insects living in colonies. Some related insects with similar behaviors are paper wasps and yellow jackets.

Hornets are predatory insects, which means they prey on other insects, including bees. They often build their nests in trees, under house eaves, or other similar locations. Hornets can sting multiple times, and their stings can be quite painful.

Nest Identification and Location

Hornets build distinct paper-like nests, which can vary in size and shape. Nests are typically found in sheltered locations, such as:

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • House eaves
  • Attics

Here’s a comparison table of hornet-related insects and their nests:

Insect Nest Material Nest Appearance Common Locations
Hornets Wood pulp Oval, paper-like Trees, eaves
Paper wasps Wood pulp Umbrella-shaped Eaves, railings
Yellowjackets Wood pulp Round, football-like Trees, attics

Make sure to correctly identify the nest before attempting any removal methods. Always consider safety, as hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets can be aggressive when defending their nests.

Safety Precautions Before Nest Removal

Protective Clothing and Gear

When removing a hornet nest, it’s essential to wear the right protective clothing and gear:

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Face mask or hood

For example, thick gloves protect your hands from stings, while goggles shield your eyes. Remember, hornets can be aggressive if they feel threatened.

Planning and Timing

Careful planning and timing play a crucial role in safely removing a hornet nest:

  • Remove the nest at night, when hornets are less active.
  • Keep children and pets away from the area.
  • Know your escape route in case hornets become aggressive.
  • Be prepared to call a professional if the nest is too large or in a hard-to-reach spot.
Activity Best Time Risk Level
Remove the nest Night Lower
Approach nest Day Higher

In summary, prioritize safety by wearing appropriate protective gear and carefully planning your approach. Doing so reduces risks to you, other humans, and pets while dealing with a hornet nest.

Hornet Nest Removal Techniques

DIY Approaches

  • Preparation: Wear thick clothing and protective gear to avoid stings before attempting removal.
  • Insecticides: Use a hornet spray specifically designed to target hornet nests.
    • Pros: Cost-effective, can be done at any time
    • Cons: Requires close proximity to the nest, can be dangerous if not done properly

Example: A popular DIY insecticide treatment involves using a trash bag to enclose the nest, spraying the insecticide inside, and sealing the bag. Dispose of the sealed bag in a proper garbage receptacle.

Alternatively, set up a bait trap using a 2-liter plastic bottle with ripe fruit or soda to attract hornets.

Professional Exterminator Services

If opting for expert help, hiring a professional exterminator can mitigate risks and ensure efficient hornet nest removal.

Pros and cons of exterminator services vs. DIY:

Exterminator Services DIY Approaches
Pros Cons
Safer Requires close proximity to nest
Expert knowledge Higher risk of hornet attack
Efficient removal Limited experience in handling insecticides
Cons Pros
More expensive Cost-effective
Scheduling challenges Can be done at any time

Notes:

  • Hornet nests near human activity might warrant the cost for professional treatment.
  • Daily observation is essential for early detection and smaller nest removal.
  • Hornet species might dictate the ideal removal approach.

Preventing Future Hornet Infestations

Maintaining Your Home and Property

One effective way to prevent hornet infestations is by maintaining your home and property properly. Some important practices include:

  • Sealing cracks and crevices in walls, eaves, and attic to reduce potential nesting sites.
  • Keeping the area clean by regularly emptying garbage and recycling bins to make it less attractive for hornets.

For example, if you have a tree branch hanging near your home, consider trimming it to discourage hornets from nesting close to your living space.

Using Hornet Traps and Lures

Another useful method for preventing infestations is using hornet traps and lures. Setting up traps and lures in the spring, when hornets are seeking nesting sites, can greatly reduce their presence in your garden or near your home. Some features of these traps and lures include:

  • Non-toxic: Safe for use around pets and children
  • Reusable: Can be emptied and cleaned for multiple uses
  • Easy to install: Can be hung from trees or mounted on walls
Hornet Trap Features Pros Cons
Non-toxic Safe for use around pets and children May not be as effective as chemical solutions
Reusable Can be used multiple times, cost-effective Requires regular maintenance
Easy to install No professional help needed for setup Placement is key for effectiveness

By combining proper home maintenance and using hornet traps and lures, you can take proactive steps to prevent future hornet infestations and keep your property safe from these unwanted insects.

Environmental Considerations

Hornets’ Role in the Ecosystem

Hornets, including bald-faced hornets, play essential roles in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. As pollinators, they:

  • Help with plant reproduction
  • Aid in plant diversity
  • Support food production for humans and other animals

Moreover, hornets are valuable predatory insects. As natural pest control, they prey on things like flies, bees, and other bugs in and around gardens.

Alternative Pest Control Methods

When dealing with hornet nests, it’s essential to consider more environmentally friendly pest control options. Some examples include:

  • Water Traps: Utilize a container filled with water and a little bit of sugar or honey to attract worker hornets and trap them.
  • Plants: Add specific plants in your garden that repel hornets, such as eucalyptus, wormwood, or mint.
  • Physical Removal: For bald-faced hornet nests in easily accessible locations, carefully removing their nest with protective gear might be beneficial. However, do this during nighttime when the hornets are less active.
Pest Control Method Pros Cons
Water Traps Non-toxic, easy to set up Might not be as effective
Plants Natural, adds aesthetics Requires maintenance, takes time
Physical Removal Immediate solution Risky, requires protective gear

Remember, it is essential to consider the environmental implications while managing hornet nests and minimize any potential harm to the ecosystem.

Dealing with Hornet Stings and Allergies

First Aid for Hornet Stings

Hornet stings inject venom into the skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling. To treat the sting:

  1. Remove the stinger by scraping with a fingernail or a credit card.
  2. Apply a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes.

Additionally, you may take over-the-counter pain relievers or antihistamines to reduce pain and swelling.

Allergy Prevention and Treatment

Some people are allergic to hornet venom and may develop severe reactions to stings. To minimize the risk of allergies and exposure to stinging insects:

  • Stay away from areas that attract hornets, such as flowering plants, food, and sweet drinks.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  • Seek professional help for hornet nest removal.

If you are stung and start experiencing severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, or dizziness, seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition requiring prompt treatment.

Symptoms of a Normal Sting Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
Pain Difficulty breathing
Redness Swelling beyond the sting site
Swelling at the sting site Rapid or weak pulse
Temporary discomfort Hives or rash

For individuals with a known venom allergy, an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen) is an essential emergency treatment. Always carry one and inform others about your allergy and how to use the injector.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mud Nest

 

Subject: mud nests or cocoons?
Location: Grand Junction Colorado
April 13, 2013 6:38 pm
We found these under a wood deck. Somewhat similar to ’earth’/mud nests made by wasps, but I am pretty sure that yellowjacket wasps are not what made these. They are about 1” long.
Signature: shreddly phreddly

Mud Wasp Nest
Mud Wasp Nest

Dear shreddly phreddly,
We agree that this is a Wasp Nest, but it is not a Yellowjacket Nest.  Yellowjackets are social wasps that build a paper nest.  The mud nest builders are solitary wasps.  Wasps in several different families construct nests of mud that are provisioned with food for the developing larvae.  Breaking one of the cells to view the contents might help to identify the nest builder more specifically.

Mud Wasp Nest
Mud Wasp Nest

Daniel:
thanks!  yeah, we were sorta freaktout when we turned the deck over and saw that assemblage (a dozen, i think).  It did look somewhat like something out of a science fixion or horror movie!
Jay K (shredd Phredd)

 

Letter 2 – Keyhole Wasp Nesting

 

Subject:  Mason Was planning – I think!
Geographic location of the bug:  SE Louisiana
Date: 07/29/2018
Time: 09:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found two of these tiny wasp-looking creatures leaving their baby creatures in tiny perfectly round holes in my shed wall. Got a photo of one but the other flew off before I could get her. I say ‘her’ because she was a bit thicker in the abdomen and I thought that maybe she was carrying eggs. After an Internet search I figured that they are probably Mason Wasps, but I’m wondering if you can tell me more. I’m an avid outdoors person and am astounded that I’ve never seen these before! I’m quite familiar with Carpenter Bees, they like my shed as well. An ID would be appreciated!
Thanks,
How you want your letter signed:  Margie from Louisiana

Keyhole Wasp Nesting

Dear Margie,
We feel pretty confident that this is NOT a Mason Wasp in the subfamily Eumeninae, as those tend to be bulkier, based on images posted to BugGuide.  We believe this is a Thread-Waisted Wasp in the family Sphecidae, but we would gladly accept any identification assistance our readership can provide.

Keyhole Wasp Nest
Thanks, Daniel! I also posted to the Insect ID page on Facebook. One of the readers there thinks that it is a Crabronid Trypoxglon? He said “Not a potter, mason, mud dauber, or thread waisted.”
What do you think about this ID?
Margie
Hi Margie,
The large head was one of the features we observed, and according to a comment by Eric Eaton on BugGuide:  “All other our species (the ‘keyhole wasps’) nest in pre-existing tunnels like beetle borings, sealing the finished nest with mud. Paralyzed spiders are used as provisions in each cell.”  That seems like a very good identification to us and we like the name Keyhole Wasp.
Hi,
I’m looking at your site and searching under the Trypoxylon group I found this guy – I think it is the same:
Is this one called a keyhole wasp, too?
Margie
Hi again Margie,
That link was from BugGuide, not our site.  The name Keyhole Wasp was used in a comment by Eric Eaton.  When we researched the common name Keyhole Wasp, we found it in reference to the Mason Wasp
Pachodynerus nasidens on BugGuide.

Letter 3 – Japanese Hornet from Japan

 

Japanese Giant Hornet
Location: Tottori, Japan
July 7, 2011 2:43 am
This site has given me so much pleasure and has been a wonderful resource for identifying all the crawly friends in my life. The reason I’m sending you this picture is mostly for completeness – I haven’t found one of these on your site and I think it deserves a shout-out.
This one also comes with a bit of a story for your amusement. A couple years ago, I saw a rather terrifying nature special on Japanese giant hornets, and how just one or two can utterly devastate an entire hive of European honey bees in minutes, and how deadly their sting can be. I comforted myself with the thought that I was not likely to be tromping around rural Japan ever at any point and went on with life.
Early this summer, I visited a friend in the least populous, most rural prefecture of Japan. I went on a mountain hike, and upon examining a raspberry bramble, this thing rises up, sounding like a small jet engine. It was easily two inches, though it made me nervous enough that it seemed twice that. After my heart started beating again, I figured I had better get myself a photo.
Apologies for the not-so-stellar picture quality, I was photographing with a pretty high zoom because I didn’t want to get too close to something with a quarter-inch long stinger!
Signature: Rowan

Japanese Hornet

Hi Rowan,
Thank you for your kind email and also for sending us your photo of an under-represented species.  These Japanese Hornets are indeed formidable creatures as well as being spectacularly colored and marked.

 

Letter 4 – Keep those Pesty Neighbors from stealing fruit with a Decoy Hornet's Nest!!!!!

 

Hey we found a new way to keep people from stealing pears. Thought this was a cool pic. I have a nest with hickory nuts in and one with apples The apple one I removed the dead apple and glued an artificial in . can’t wait till these guys leave now I’ll have one with pearsin it. It is growing by leaps and bounds hardly new it was there a couple weeks ago. And they are busy ,So pretty!
Sandy Dobbelaere
Oakwood Ohio

Wow Sandy,
This has to be our favorite household/garden hint ever. We wished this worked with squirrels, which are having a banquet with our peaches right now. We love your letter because you have embraced the presence of Bald Faced Hornets in your yard/garden or perhaps orchard, and you understand the valuable role they play in insect control. Additionally, using the active nest as well as the abandoned nests as decoys to deter pilfering of your fruit is positively priceless. Thanks for the wonderful tip.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Hornet Nest: Easy and Safe Solutions”

  1. WE HAVE SMALL MUD LOOKING NESTS ON THE SCREENS AND THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE. INSIDE ARE TINY WORM LIKE CREATURES. WHAT ARE THEY?

    Reply

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