Have you got an infestation of paper wasps on hand? Worry not; we present below some ideas on how to get rid of paper wasps.
Do you have paper wasps from your property? Well, knowing that these wasps are stinging insects and can cause nasty reactions in sensitive individuals, this might seem to be tricky.
If you’re looking for a safe way to deal with these wasps without getting stung, this article will show you exactly what you need to do.
How To Identify Paper Wasps?
In case you didn’t know, more than 18,000 species of wasps live in North America. So, how do you know for sure that the ones in your garden are paper wasps?
Let us check out what a paper wasp looks like. Growing up to 0.3 inches to 0.6 inches, these wasps are black or brown with yellow or red markings.
Their waists are narrow but not spindly, and their legs dangle while they fly.
It’s quite easy to confuse them with other wasp species, like yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets, due to the similarities in their appearances.
Paper wasps have earned their name from the fact that their nests have a papery look and feel. They make these nests by mixing plant materials with their saliva.
While yellow jacket nests and bald-faced hornet nests have similar material, their nests are close-faced.
On the other hand, paper wasps make open-combed nests. This means you can see the cells of the wasps nests, often with larvae or eggs inside them.
Another difference between paper wasps and the two other similar species is that the former isn’t as aggressive.
Although paper wasps are stinging wasps, they do it only when they feel threatened.
Paper Wasp in House – What To Do?
Despite their non-aggressive nature, paper wasps can prove to be quite a menace in your house.
After all, it’s easy to accidentally get too close to the nest and send the wasps in a frenzy to attack you. Here are some solutions to deal with paper wasps.
1. Remove Them By Hand
Let’s first have a look at the physical removal methods. However, keep in mind that this can be a bit risky, especially if the nest is already populated with too many wasps.
Before you decide to remove the nest manually, you also need to make sure that the nest belongs to paper wasps and not one of the more aggressive species.
You can knock the nest loose with a pole or a broom. If the nest is too high up, use a ladder to get closer to it.
You may even use a pressure washer to send a jet of water at the nest and scrape it off. Once it’s down on the ground, stomp on it to kill the wasps inside, especially the queen wasp.
2. Paper Wasp Trap
Another way to eliminate paper wasps is to use traps. Here are two types of paper wasp traps that you can easily make at home:
Take a two-liter plastic pop bottle, discard the lid, and cut off the funnel-shaped top part of the bottle. Pour about four inches of water into the bottle and mix some dish soap in it.
Now, turn the top part you cut off earlier upside down and fit it into the opening of the bottle.
Stick tape along the edge to attach the two pieces and poke holes on opposite points on the rim so that you can insert a thread and make a hanger.
Now comes an important part – putting the right bait. This varies from one season to another, as wasps look for sugary foods in summer and protein-rich foods in spring.
Attach the bait to the threaded part of the funnel. Apply petroleum jelly around the opening to make it slippery and prevent the wasps from getting out.
Now, just hang the trap near the nest, preferably at least 4ft. from the ground and 20 ft. away from human activity.
Wasps falling into it will tire out while trying to escape and eventually drown.
If you want to make a simpler paper wasp trap, you can just take a five-gallon bucket, fill it with water, and put some dish soap into it.
Now hang a heavy protein bait just an inch over the water surface. Wasps trying to carry away the bait will end up falling into the water and drowning.
Avoid using pet food as a protein bait since the wasps will lose interest in it quickly.
3. Paper Wasp Repellent
Applying chemical repellents is one of the most effective ways to get rid of paper wasps and avoid getting stung in the process.
However, keep in mind that these repellents can be toxic, which makes them a little risky to use around pets or children.
For outdoor control of paper wasps, you may use powerful repellents like Stryker Wasp and Hornet Killer.
This wasp spray can reach up to 20 ft., which means you can spray the wasp nest from a safe distance. The best time to do this is in the evening or at night when the wasps are no longer very active.
Spray the entrance of the nest for six to eight seconds, drench the whole nest, and kill any wasps that fly out.
Indoors, it’s best to avoid chemical pest repellants altogether and stick to natural methods. A soap and water solution would work great against small paper wasp nests.
Simply put two tablespoons of dish soap in a spray bottle filled with water. Spray a generous amount of soapy water all over the nest.
It will kill the wasps instantly by closing the pores from which they breathe. You may also mix some essential oils in the solution for better results.
If you have wasps flying around openly too often, direct application sprays can help you eliminate them.
Spray Pyrethrin-based insecticides like Pyrid Aerosol directly on the wasps to kill them immediately. While this method is effective and delivers quick results, make sure to spray from a distance of at least two feet.
If the nest is too big and you aren’t confident about destroying it yourself, hire a pest control professional.
Paper Bag Wasp Deterrent – Does a Brown Paper Bag Repel Wasps?
It’s a common perception that a brown paper bag can repel wasps by acting as a fake wasp nest. This is because wasps usually avoid building nests close to an already existing colony.
However, paper wasps do not perceive brown paper bags as nests, which means this method won’t work.
Why Do Paper Wasps Come To Your House?
Let’s now find out why you have paper wasps in your house in the first place. Three of the most common causes are:
- Availability of protected areas: If your property has areas like overhangs and eaves, there’s a high chance that paper wasps may build nests there in summer.
- Standing water: Having standing water on your property attracts a lot of insects, including paper wasps. Ponds, birdbaths, or even leaky hoses can provide them with a great water source.
- Sweet smells: As you might expect, paper wasps are common in gardens as they’re attracted to the sweet smell of fruits and flowers. Leaving such fruits in the open can attract them too.
Preventing Paper Wasps
Wondering how you can prevent paper wasps altogether so that you don’t have to get rid of them in the future? Follow the steps below:
- Don’t leave any standing water in the open, and keep the yard clean of organic debris.
- Destroy new paper wasp nests quickly before they multiply.
- Apply preventive repellants like Sylo Insecticide on the perimeter of your home to keep the wasps out.
- Keep overgrown shrubs and overhanging tree branches trimmed so that the wasps can’t find many protected areas to build nests.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you permanently get rid of paper wasps?
To get rid of paper wasps permanently, you need to destroy their nest and kill the queen wasp.
Once the queen wasp is dead, she can no longer lay eggs and help build a new wasp. Any wasps that escape alive will go away once the nest is destroyed.
Should you kill paper wasps?
If the paper wasps are too close to human activity and pose a threat, you may not have a choice besides killing them.
However, if the nest is too high up and they aren’t bothering you, you may leave them be. These wasps are beneficial insects and help control the population of caterpillars and other garden pests.
Do paper wasps go away?
You’ll find a paper wasp nest empty and devoid of activity in late fall and winter, which can make it seem that they have gone away.
In reality, however, most of them die off in winter. Some of the queen wasps survive and later start a new nest in spring. Towards late summer, the queen wasps will find a place to hibernate.
What are paper wasps attracted to?
Paper wasps are attracted to shaded and protected areas that can protect them and their nests from unfavorable weather conditions.
Quite obviously, the availability of food and water sources attracts them too. Depending on the time of the year, paper wasps prefer sugary or protein-rich foods.
Papers wasps are also attracted to lights, like many other insects. If you keep your lights on in the evening, you might find some of them hovering around it.
Whether you have paper wasps, umbrella wasps, or yellow jackets in your home, you need to get rid of them safely.
Look carefully in all possible places, such as under porch ceilings and behind eaves.
Considering wasp stings can be quite painful and may trigger an allergic reaction, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Hopefully, you won’t have much trouble dealing with paper wasps now.
Thank you for reading!
Paper wasps can be quite fear-inspiring, as you can certainly see from the many emails we have received about them below.
Some of our readers have also shared a bit about their habitat and how their nests look. Please have a read!
Letter 1 – Golden Paper Wasp skins and chews Caterpillar
Several days ago I noticed caterpillars eating one of my patio plants…Today I witnessed something very interesting: a wasp-like insect appeared, flew under the leaf, pushed one of the caterpillars off to the ground, picked it up and then ate it! It needed little more than five minutes. By the time I got the camera, the caterpillar looked like a wasabi-pea (see the picture). Few hours later there was only one caterpillar left, and I won’t be surprised if it’s gone by tomorrow. I did google search and I think my little garden helper is a golden paper wasp. Am I right? Thanks:)
Monika, Fullerton, CA
PS. great site;)
Except for one detail, your account is very accurate. This is Polistes aurifer, and though BugGuide does not list a common name, the species name is analyzed as being: “Latin for ‘bearer of gold’ from aurum- ‘gold’ + fer- ‘that which bears, carries, wears’.” Wasps in the genus Polistes are known as Paper Wasps because of the nest which is composed of individual cells for developing wasps. Our very old version of Charles Hogue’s Insects of the Los Angeles Basin lists a common name of Golden Polistes, and still had it listed as a subspecies with the name Polistes fuscatus aurifer. Golden Paper Wasp is a very appropriate name for this wasp. Your inacuracy is that the adult wasps do not eat caterpillar. They feed on nectar and juice from fruits. Charles Hogue writes: “Adult wasps gather caterpillars, which they skin and chew before feeding them to the grub-like larvae developing in the cells.”
Letter 2 – Larval Paper Wasps
paper wasp larva in nest
Hope your email situation is getting better. I saw something today I’ve never seen before, and I didn’t see it on your site, so I’m sending it in case you’d like to post it. In the paper wasp nest, you can see a few larva in the cells. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks,
Hi again Tim,
Our email is still buggy, but your image was small enough to make it through. Thanks for contributing to our site once again. We have linked back to your great site as well.
Letter 3 – Golden Paper Wasp
Unknown Wasp in North Los Angeles.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 9:25 AM
I’ve been a big fan of your site for ages.
I found this little wasp in Tujunga, far northern Los Angeles, CA. during mid/late summer.
It’s a small / med sized wasp. When I found it it was sitting on a twig, munching on the twig, or maybe eating something off of it. But I couldn’t see that he was actually eating the twig itself. These are quite common there but even after looking through all 15 wasp pages in your site and googleing a million things I could not find a name for this little guy/girl.
I hope you can Identify it, I’m pretty much obsessed with all living creatures and I’m dieing to know what kind of wasp this is so i can do some research on it. Thanks a bunch!! Love your site!!
Tujunga, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Despite going global with the world wide web, we still have a nostalgia for our humble local photocopied zine of origin, when most of our identifications were from the Los Angeles area. This is a Paper Wasp, Polistes aurifer according to BugGuide, or a subspecies, Polisted fuscatus aurifer according to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin. Wasps from this family chew bark and wood pulp into a papery substance for the production of the nest.
Fri, 20 Feb 2009 12:26:19 -0800 (PST)
Just an added note to the “golden paper wasp” post….The specimen is a male. I can tell by the ‘square,’ yellow face (females have triangular, darker faces) and the long antennae, curled at the tip (females have shorter, uncurled antennae).
Letter 4 – Golden Paper Wasp
Wasp Heaven Today
Location: Hawthorne, CA
July 31, 2011 9:08 pm
Today we had three ”new” wasps to the yarden for this year. Two I was able to identify when they visited last year, the Great Golden Digger (my favorite) and one other. I haven’t been able to identify the one in the images attached, though. Can you help? It’s quite good sized, but not as large as the Golden Digger.
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon
This is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, and though there is some question as to whether it is a species or a subspecies, we believe this is a Golden Paper Wasp, Polistes aurifer, which you may verify by comparing your individual to this photo on BugGuide. A small colony builds a suspended nest and workers tend to the larvae, which are fed skinned and pre-chewed caterpillars. The Golden Paper Wasp in your photo is probably searching for Caterpillars on the swiss chard.
Thanks Daniel. I was pretty sure it was in the genus Polistes, but wasn’t readily able to find it. We’re off to the South Coast Botanic Gardens today with picnic and cameras in hand. Hopefully I will come back with good stuff.
You have taken such wonderful insect images in your own yard, so we hope you are not disappointed by the botanical gardens.
Letter 5 – Male Paper Wasp from Canada
Subject: Wasp with 2 stingers/ earwig pinchers
Location: Oxford, ns canada
October 6, 2015 11:05 am
This wasp was on my chair outside. It had 2 stingers that looked like the pinchers of an earwig. I tried I get a clearer picture but it was running around the chair like a lunatic.
We did not recognize your wasp, so we wrote to Eric Eaton for assistance. Here is his response.
Eric Eaton Responds
Male paper wasp (Polistes sp.), but not one I recognize. Was this picture taken in the U.S.? Even North America?
This picture was taken in oxford Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Thought maybe it was a deformity or something.
Letter 6 – Northern Paper Wasp
Subject: Flying insect – Wasp?
Geographic location of the bug: Richmond VA
Time: 02:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I keep finding these flying insects in my house. I am concerned if they are dangerous as my cats like to chase them around the house. I am not sure where they are coming from but would like to know more about them.
How you want your letter signed: Martin
This is a Northern Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus, and it is an especially dark individual, much like this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “Hypervariable in color and pattern” and “Nests in woodlands and savannas. It is fairly common around human habitations, especially where exposed wood is present and can be used for nest material.” BugGuide also indicates: “Lifespan is approximately one year, or the time it takes a queen to develop and to mate. Larvae from eggs that are laid during the summer are well fed because of abundant food, and are capable of becoming queens. These eggs hatch before fall and the resulting offspring hibernate during fall and winter. The new queens emerge in the spring to begin nests and lay eggs.” That causes us to speculate that perhaps the individuals you are finding are queens that are seeking shelter indoors to hibernate due to the approaching cold weather.