Our Love / Hate Relationship with Paper Wasps And Yellow Jackets

August 11th, 2011 by Craig Mullins

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while battling the wasps that have made themselves at home on our property, it’s that insects are most definitely called bugs and pests for a reason.

Of course, they’re also incredibly useful and an important part of the cycle of life, so how to handle them without ruining the balance of their environment is vital.

The first step in properly taking care of the wasps, was to figure out exactly what type we were dealing with. And by taking care of them, I sadly meaning killing the ones that have built their nests outside our doors and under the eaves of our buildings, creating a safety issues for ourselves and our guests.

We started by looking at the nest, and discovered that they are most likely Paper Wasps.

hornets nest

Paper wasps are much less defensive and rarely sting humans. They tend to shy away from human activity except when their nests are located near doors, windows, or other high-traffic areas.

Most social wasps provide an extremely beneficial service by eliminating large numbers of other pest insects through predation and should be protected and encouraged to nest in areas of little human or animal activity. Although many animals prey on social wasps—including birds, reptiles, amphibians, skunks, bears, raccoons, spiders, preying mantids [sic], and bald-faced hornets—none provides satisfactory biological control in home situations.

[source]

wasps paper

While many insects are simply bothersome, some become downright mean when they feel threatened and will stop at nothing to combat said threat.

Ferocious hunters, paper wasps feast on caterpillars.

“If you have a garden and you want to get rid of caterpillar pests, get some paper wasps. That’ll take care of them,”

Dominulus paper wasps are very attentive to potential threats to their nests. They can detect movement at 12 to 20 feet from the nest but fortunately do not typically attack unless people are very close (inches away).

[source]

paper wasps nests

paper wasps

At our house, the wasps set up shop under the eaves of our buildings, and by default, we became their biggest threat every time we went outside. Clearly something needed to be done to show the little stinging buggers who the real queen bee is.

Unfortunately, removing each nest on our house by hand and moving them to another area of property would put us at great risk of being attacked; so we had to come up with something else.

wasps stings

We purchased a wasp spray that was the least toxic to people and pets that we could find, and waited for the sun to go down, when the wasps would be at their calmest and least aggressive.

With two cans of spray and a flashlight, we set off to obtain victory. Nests were soaked and wasps began to fall. As darkness set in, we completed our battle and waited until dawn to measure our results.

Before the sun had a chance to peak over the hill behind our house the next morning, I grabbed a broom and returned to the various crime scenes to remove the remaining evidence. And before it got too hot, we hung up a few environmentally-friendly wasp catchers near the doors.

In the weeks since, our paper wasp problem has diminished, but it has certainly not gone away completely. In fact, just the other day we discovered construction had begun on a new nest right outside our front door.

I have a feeling we’ll be doing battle with the wasps for months to come, but hopefully by fall we can really get it under control.

Until then, I guess we’ll just have to do our best to avoid the buzzing squatters – and learn to enjoy the hanging catchers as part of our scenery.

pictures of wasps

For information on how to identify the bees and wasps in your area, there are helpful Bee Identification and Wasp Identification charts.

pictures of paper wasps

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