Being stung by a wasp (yellow jacket), hornet or bee is a painful experience and can be life threatening to anyone who may be allergic to stings.
However, it is possible to reduce these risks by taking sensible precautions when outdoors and ensuring that wasp nests or bee hives are properly managed. Knowing how to get rid of wasps or hornets is critical to avoid the risk of stings.
If you have been stung by a wasp or bee, please refer to our guide to treating insect stings. This also has information about how to avoid being stung when outdoors.
The most dangerous species of stinging insects are the vespid wasps, which include paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets.
The bright yellow and black striping of wasps is a warning pattern that has been mimicked by many insects to take advantage of the deterrent effect of appearing wasp like.
These harmless mimics include hover-flies, day moths (such as the Ash Borer) and beetles that visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar.
Paper wasps have long legs, which is a good way to tell them apart from yellow jackets, who have shorter legs.
Yellow jackets have black antennae and shorter legs (relative to the paper wasp).
Hornets are the largest social wasps we deal with. Bald faced hornets have white markings on their head and thorax. European hornets are brownish with orange markings.
Paper wasps build open and exposed nests that resemble an upside down umbrella. These nests can get quite large late in the season, and adult wasps will readily sting if they sense danger approaching. Some wasps build new nests on top of old nests, giving the false impression that they are reusing a nest.
Yellow jackets build nests that are surrounded by a papery covering, and are commonly found within wall voids or cavities in the ground. When disturbed, yellow jackets are quite aggressive, and can attack in large numbers.
Bald faced hornets build nests that are covered in a papery shell and European hornets build their nests in natural cavities like tree stumps, or in cavities within buildings.
The best way to manage wasps and a wasp nest is to be able to identify and locate the nest.
This risk from these stinging insects increases towards the end of summer – it is preferable to destroy wasp and hornet nests earlier in the year before wasps become aggressive.
The most effective way to get rid of wasps or hornets is to remove the main cause of the problem – the nest.
You may chose to use DIY pest control products to destroy a hornet or wasp nest yourself if the nest is easily accessible. However, if you decide to destroy the nest yourself, follow all instructions carefully:
Many wasps including yellow jackets frequently construct their nests below ground, making it difficult to treat. Sometimes nests are below concrete slabs or piles of rock or vegetation. In these cases it can be difficult to treat the nest and activity will continue despite your repeated attempts at control. In these situations, you may consider the assistance of a professional pest control company.
Stinging insect swarms are dangerous - if in doubt get professional help.
Contact Ehrlich Pest Control free at for further information on how to get rid of wasps (yellow jackets) and hornets or to arrange for a visit by a Technician.