The joy of owning a home means making it all your own, but what do you do when wasps or hornets also call your house home? These insects can be aggressive; if anyone in your family is allergic to them, the situation could be more dangerous.

Identifying the signs of a wasp infestation is the first step to managing the situation, then follows resolving the infestation with pest control services. Wasp pest control and hornet pest control professionals are your best bet for a successful infestation removal.

What Are Hornets and Where Do They Build Nests?

Hornets are a type of wasp belonging to the genus Vespa. These insects are very large and can reach over two inches in length. Wasps have a reputation for being aggressive but only when guarding their nests and are otherwise social.

Wasp nests and hornet nests can be found in trees or underground but become a nuisance for homeowners when built on homes and other buildings on private property, such as garages. They may also nest inside the home, such as inside the attic or chimney.

Hornets are the biggest of all wasps and measure one inch in size. They look similar to yellow jackets but are larger. Further, wasps tend to have longer legs and a thin waist. Hornets are long and slender, with very distinct eyes on their heads and long antennae. Their stingers are long and their waists are narrow between the thorax and abdomen.

Many of the largest hornet species are found outside the United States. Only two hornets are common in the United States: the European hornet and the bald-faced hornet.

Below, we’ll discuss what signs to look for when spotting a wasp or hornet infestation. We’ll also review how to identify the most common hornets and answer the most frequently answered questions regarding an infestation.

Signs of a Wasp Infestation or Hornet Infestation

Hornets and wasps are commonly encountered during the summer when they are most active and abundant. However, many wasps and hornets are active from the spring to the fall. Here are the most common signs of a wasp infestation or hornet infestation.

Wasp and Hornet Sightings

Keeping an eye out for wasps is the first step in finding out if you have an infestation. Spotting one or two wasps isn’t a sign of an infestation, but finding several of these insects warns homeowners of a possible infestation.

Here is a quick overview of common wasps and hornets in the United States:

    • Mud daubers are solitary wasps and do not live in colonies. These wasps measure three fourths an inch to one inch in length and vary in color: completely black, black with yellow markings or blue-black. Mud daubers build their nests from mud and generally don’t defend them, so they aren’t a major worry.
    • Paper wasps have a narrow body and range in size from five-eighths an inch to three-fourths an inch long. They are dark brown with yellow markings.
    • Yellow jackets have alternating black and yellow bands and are slightly smaller than paper wasps. Workers are around half an inch and queens are often three-fourths an inch.  They have two sets of wings, a narrow waist and a lance-like stinger.
  • European hornets range from three-fourths to one and a half inches. Their brown bodies are long with yellow stripes, a pale face and two sets of wings.
  • Bald-faced hornets are black with predominantly white facesThe workers are half an inch to five-eighths an inch in size, while the queens are up to three-fourths an inch. This insect’s body is long and smooth, and its sting can trigger allergic reactions in humans.

Wasp Nests and Hornets Nests

If you spot a wasp or hornet nest on your property, you’re likely dealing with an active wasp or hornet infestation.

Wasps nests and hornets nests can both be found either in nature or attached to buildings, but hornets nests are much larger. Hornet nests can be built up to two feet long and are usually shaped like an egg. Hornet nests are often built under eaves, though some hornet species build their nests in tree cavities or voids in walls.

 Here are a few tips for identifying the most common types of wasp and hornet nests:

  • Mud dauber nests are constructed from mud near sheltered areas, such as under eaves, in garages or sheds. Sometimes, nests are constructed on protected walls.
  • Paper wasp nests are paper-like in appearance, shaped like an umbrella and gray. These nests are built in sheltered places such as trees, brushes, under eaves, in garages and attics.
  • Yellow jacket nests are often built underground, so search for nest holes in the ground. Mature nests contain thousands of wasps, so don’t disturb the nest. Be careful as you search.
  • European hornet nests are almost always built in dark locations, but if this isn’t possible, the hornets add extra layers to keep out light. Prime spots for nest building include hollow trees, hollow walls, attics, barns and even abandoned beehives. They fiercely protect the nest.
  • Bald-faced hornet nests are built during the spring. Their enclosed aerial nests are made out of woody materials, typically in dense high branches in the canopy of a tree. Nests are also built on overhangs, utility poles, buildings, sheds and other structures.

Wood Damage

Wasps and hornets often take wood from your property to construct their nests, using chewed wood and their saliva.

You may find damage to wooden staircases and patios. Small holes in trees or firewood also can indicate damage from wasps or hornets.

However, other insects can cause wood damage, so it’s best to look for other signs of infestation.

Buzzing Noises

You’ll likely hear a wasp or hornet before you spot it, and the buzzing will be consistent and loud if an infestation is occurring. The more wasps that are around, the more likely it is that you have a wasp infestation. If wasps are constructing their nest in a wall or attic, you may also hear a tapping noise.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Are Wasps Most Active?

From July to September, the wasp season peaks and wanes. The queen wasp flies away with the males to birth new queen wasps. When the queen leaves the hive, the drones can become more aggressive and stray away from the nest.

What Damage Can Wasps and Hornets Cause?

If wasps or hornets are left to build nests repeatedly on or inside an already-weak structure, they can contribute damage. Holes in wood can wear down over time. Dead, hollow trees can fall on your home or vehicle. Wood damage caused by wasps and hornets is more cosmetic than structural.

Wasps and hornets can cause more damage to people. Their stings are very painful, and it’s especially serious if anyone in your home is allergic to their stings. Mass envenomation is a real possibility that can cause organ failure or death and occurs when multiple wasps or hornets inject a large amount of venom into a pet or person.

Some people may try a DIY approach to remove a nest by using wasp spray from several feet away and using a red-tint light at night to avoid being caught. However, this can be quite dangerous.

Never disturb a nest without taking proper precautions. It’s best to contact pest control services to remove the nest instead.

How Do I Discourage Wasps and Hornets From Building Nests?

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent wasps and hornets from building a nest on your property since they are an active part of nature. However, you can take preventative measures to discourage them from building nests in certain areas close to your home. Keep trash cans sealed tightly. Only take meat and fruit scraps to the trash at the last minute, which will limit the number of bugs available to feed on.

How Long Do Wasps Live?

The normal worker wasp lives for 12 to 24 days. The lifespan for a typical queen is about one year, from ten to 12 months. Life cycles vary by type of wasp.

When Do Wasps and Hornets Die Off?

Wasps and hornets begin to die off as it turns colder and fall becomes winter. Temperatures at 32 degrees Fahrenheit seriously impact hornet colonies.

How Do You Stop Wasps and Hornets From Coming Back?

Remove food sources that may attract wasps and hornets to your home and property. Remove scrap lumber and keep up with repairs on your home and surrounding structures. Cover mulch piles. Remove dead trees. Seek professional pest control services for effective prevention methods when it comes to wasp pest control and hornet pest control.

Can Vinegar Get Rid of Hornets?

Vinegar tends to attract hornets, so some people try a home remedy to get rid of hornets that involves mixing water, sugar, dish soap and fruit juice to attract these insects to traps. Hornets are quite large and live in colonies, so this method would take time and many traps to be effective. Wasp pest control and hornet pest control services are the best bet to guarantee the removal of an infestation.

Should I Destroy a Wasp Nest or Hornet Nest?

If the nest is occupied by wasps or hornets, it’s best not to attempt to remove it yourself. Multiple stings can lead to serious injury or death, depending on severity, allergy and treatment available. Contact our professionals at Pest Control Unlimited to remove the nest. Most wasps and hornets won’t bother you unless they feel threatened.