How to Remove a Wasp Nest and Steps to Protect Your Kids from Wasps

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The wasp and wasp nests are a common problem throughout the summer. They are social insects that form colonies inside nests. Nests are often found in soil banks, roof spaces, and in areas within trees and walls.

The queen wasp will emerge from its hibernation around mid-April time and will search for a suitable site for her colony. The queen wasp will then build the foundations of the nest by using chewed bark and dried timber mixed with saliva. The nest at this point is no bigger than a golf ball in size and within this nest, she lays between 10 and 20 eggs. The first brood of adult workers takes over the tasks of enlarging the nest and providing food for subsequent eggs laid down by the queen. By the end of the summer, the nest can contain between 3000 and 5000 wasps and measure over 30 cm across.

wasp hive or nest

Wasp Life Cycle Stages

Later in the summer, males and young queens emerge and mating occurs. Once fertilized, the queen flies away to find a suitable site for the winter. Once the cooler weather comes, the workers and remaining males become lethargic, and they feed off ripe and over-ripe fruits. This can produce aggressive behaviour to anyone interfering with them.

The onset of the cold weather kills off all of these workers and males, and it is only the queen that survives in hibernation to start a new colony in the spring.


Wasps do visit bins, waste depots and dead animal bodies and therefore they have the possibility of spreading diseases, but they are mainly known for their nuisance in the late summer.

In the early parts of summer, wasps are too busy collecting food for the nest, however, later in the season as the larval rearing decreases, the workers and males turn to sweeter products and they become nuisances in homes, bakeries, offices etc. They also have the ability to sting apparent threats, a habit which increases as the insect becomes more irritable with the onset of the cooler weather, and the feeding on fermented, over-ripe fruits.

Some people are allergic to wasp stings, but nonetheless, it still becomes an irritant if you’re not. Wasps are generally easy to control if access to the nest can be achieved. Control of adults in flight alone will unlikely to exert much control over an active nest, however strategically positioned wasp traps, such as Waspbane, will attract nuisance wasps away from sensitive areas for example children play-areas or public parks and gardens.

The onset of the cold weather kills off all of these workers and males, and it is only the queen that survives in hibernation to start a new colony in the spring.

Wasps do visit bins, waste depots and dead animal bodies and therefore they have the possibility of spreading diseases, but they are mainly known for their nuisance in the late summer.

large wasp hornets nest for removal
A large wasp nest is ready for removal

How Do I Get Rid of Wasps Around My House?

The main aim should be to disable the nest by applying a residual insecticide to the nest entrance. If the nest is found in a loft space, shed or anywhere indoors, the use of mini-smoke generators is beneficial to knock down the majority of the worker wasps. Wasps re-entering the nests will need to come into contact with the residual dust, and they will naturally walk to product into the nest, thus killing it off.

Nests are often found in loft spaces, cavity walls, behind cladding, in flower beds etc. Be careful when treating wasps in loft space etc. and make sure there are no signs of bat activity.

In general residual dusts are far better then residual sprays. Most residual dusts are ideal, for example, bendiocarb and pyrethriod.

If you have an active wasp nest under the eaves of your home or in another area where the wasps are causing a nuisance, you may decide to go the do-it-yourself route to remove the nest.  Most people will suffer only temporary pain from a wasp sting, and you may be willing to take that risk.  If you are, keep a couple basic safety issues in mind with aerial nests.

First, you should know that even professionals often get stung in the process of removing wasp nests.  Under no circumstances should individuals with wasp allergies or sensitivity attempt to remove a wasp nest.  Call a professional exterminator and keep your distance.  Period. 

Also, while a prepared amateur can remove even a large honey-comb shaped paper wasp nest safely, a large hornet nest really should be left to the pros.  Those big grey football-shaped papery nests house large numbers of the highly aggressive hornets.  Taking them on will get you stung, probably repeatedly.

hornet in hive
A mean looking hornet wants to sting you!

Getting Rid of Wasps Nests

Make sure someone knows that you are going to remove a wasp nest.  It may be a good idea to have a cell phone with you, and be sure to have some Benadryl or other antihistamines on hand as well.

The most important thing to remember around wasps is to maintain your composure.  Move slowly and deliberately. Swatting wildly at wasps and moving quickly will only draw them to you and give them a well-defined target. 

Because so many wasp nests are high off the ground, you may very well need to use a ladder to reach the hive to treat or remove the nest. If you use a spray, try to remain on the ground and use an extension pole if necessary to reach the hive.  If you do use a ladder, maintaining your composure is especially critical.  While even multiple wasp stings are unlikely to kill you, falling off a twenty-foot ladder very well might.

If you are on a ladder and do get stung, remain calm.  Again, move slowly and deliberately and descend the ladder safely. Move away from the area, maintaining your composure; the best that you possibly can. 

It is important to wear protective clothing and closed-toe shoes when removing a wasp nest.  It would be a shame to successfully treat the nest and descend the ladder only to have your feet stung by fallen wasps in their death throes.  You may also want to consider wearing gloves (leather is best) as well as a hat or cap to shield your head from any falling wasps.  Be sure to position your ladder well to the side of the nest rather than underneath it for that same reason.

Removing wasp nests without an exterminator isn’t impossible, but a little planning and taking proper precautions will go a long way to ensuring your success and safety.

Why Are Wasps so Aggressive?

Wasp and hornet season heats up with the temperature; the aggressive insects get more active as the summer goes on.  Unfortunately, this is also when kids spend the most time outdoors.  You can take a few simple steps to protect your kids from the wasps and hornets that are part of the summer season.

If you have a picnic or a cookout, keep all food and drink containers covered until it is time to eat.  Clean up immediately after the meal, and be sure all garbage bags are tied shut. 

If your kids carry a drink outdoors when they play, water is the best option; wasps are highly attracted to sugar and sugary drinks.  Put the beverage in a container with a lid or a snap-down straw.  Encourage your kids to be mindful and to look at their drink container before they put it to their mouths. To be completely safe, have your kids come inside to drink at intervals during their play.

If you see wasps on your porch, yard, or another play area, and the hive isn’t visible, wasp traps are your best option.  Today’s pesticide-free wasp traps are non-toxic and safe for use around pets and children.  The traps are deceptively simple—and highly effective. They work by enticing the wasps into a container with sugar water or a similar formulation.  Once inside, the wasps can’t escape.    Place the traps away from the area where your children play to draw the wasps towards the trap and away from the play area.

wasp sting child
An allergic reaction in a child after being sting by a wasp

What Colours Attract Wasps?

Some types of wasps are attracted to bright colours, so you may want to consider neutral-coloured play clothes for your children, especially if you know there have been wasps in a particular area in the past.

Encourage your kids to tell you if they see a wasp or a hornet hive so that you can remove it safely.  Unfortunately, when it comes to interesting-looking wasp hives, most kids are curious.  Although you probably won’t be able to stem your kids’ curiosity, do take the time to educate them.  All wasps can sting, and wasp stings are notoriously painful.

If you or your child is attacked by a wasp, it’s important to know that wasps can sting multiple times.  Swift movements will often attract other wasps, so in the event that a hive is disturbed, you should get away from the area as quickly and safely as possible.

Of course, if you know your child has wasp sensitivity such as an allergy to yellow jacket venom, be sure that they carry their Epi-pen or other sting treatment kit during any outdoor summer activity. 

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