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How To Get Rid of Wasps & Hornets

Image of Hornet [Vespa crabro] | Ehrlich Pest Control

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.

Contact Ehrlich Pest Control at for further information on how to get rid of wasps (yellow jackets) and hornets or book a FREE pest inspection of your home online.

Removing Wasps & Hornets 

Wasp nest being removed by Ehrlich technician The most effective way to get rid of wasps or hornets is to remove the main cause of the problem – the nest.

Due to safety concerns, we do not recommend using DIY pest control products to destroy a hornet or wasp nest yourself. The safest and most proven method in removing stinging insect nests is by contacting pest control professionals like Ehrlich. 

To remove the nest from your premises, an Ehrlich technician will dress in protective stinging insect gear to keep them safe from stings. The technician will make sure no people are nearby while the nest is being treated to eliminate the possibility of stings. 

Depending on where the nest is located and the type of wasp or hornet, the technician will apply a treatment of aerosols, dusts and liquids to the nest. 

Once the colony has been eliminated, the technician will remove the nest completely so a new colony of wasps or hornets do not use it in the future. 

However, if you decide to destroy the nest yourself, follow all instructions carefully:

  • Treating at night is generally recommended because wasps are less aggressive then. However, they respond quickly to any sign of light, so avoid even the use of a torch, as this may provoke them to leave the nest.
  • Wear protection - wasps will attack if disturbed. Ensure that you minimize uncovered skin including wearing gloves and a hat.
  • Do not attempt DIY treatment if you suspect you are sensitive to wasp stings, if the nest is indoors or the nest is inaccessible.
  • Do not treat a wasp nest when on a ladder or from a raised height unless you have bee proof clothing including a headnet.


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. 

It can be difficult to treat the nest in these instances and activity will continue despite your repeated attempts at control. In these situations, you may consider the assistance of a professional pest control company.

Types of Wasps (Yellow Jackets) & Hornets

The most dangerous species of stinging insects are the vespid wasps, which include paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets.

Identifying Wasps and Hornets 

Image of Yellow Jacket / Social Wasp [Vespula] | Ehrlich Pest Control

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. Paper wasps can get quite large and adults are aggressive stingers and are prevalent throughout the East Coast in states like Pennsylvania, New York and Florida. In recent years, the paper wasp has been the most common problem stinging pests in homes. 

Yellow jackets have black antennae and shorter legs (relative to the paper wasp). Queen yellow jackets are roughly 3/4 inch long while worker yellow jackets at roughly half an inch long. 

Hornets are the largest social wasps we deal with. Bald faced hornets have white markings on their head and thorax. Hornets are typically large, up to 1.8 inches long and their wings are often reddish-orange in color. European hornets are brownish with orange markings. Hornets are very active in many U.S. states, including Ohio, Connecticut and Delaware

Wasp and Hornet Nests 

Image of a wasp nest from Ehrlich Pest Control

  • 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. Yellow jackets are typically most aggressive in late summer. 
  • 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.

How To Locate Wasp Nests

  • Wasp Nest Image A wasp nest is made from chewed wood that gives them their distinctive papery walls.
  • Queen wasps build small nests in the spring and lay the first batch of eggs. These quickly develop into workers that soon take over nest building activities for the remainder of the season
  • By mid summer, wasp nests can reach considerable size. Some nests can be the size of basketballs or even larger!
  • To locate the nest, watch the flight path of returning wasps. If the nest is near the home, keep nearby windows closed. If you suspect the nest is in your attic or in a wall it is then almost always best to call a professional exterminator.
  • Common sites for a wasp or hornet nest include under the roof eaves, behind shutters or in sheds.

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.

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.

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