While wasps and hornets have their purpose in hunting and controlling pest insects, their painful sting means that they can be a danger when they nest near or inside of homes. When faced with these nests, it is tempting to remove the nest immediately. There are circumstances when this can be done safely. There are also many circumstances where, for safety reasons, this should be done by a licensed pest control professional.
In cold winter months, nests are more likely to be abandoned. Social wasps and hornets build nests for the year and only the queen survives through the winter, moving to a warmer and more protected environment until the weather warms up again. In summer, particularly in the warmest months, wasp and hornet nests are at their largest numbers. During this time, they should not be approached by a layperson. A professional who has experience in dealing with large numbers of aggressive wasps and hornets should be called in order to prevent injury from stings. If the nest is not too large and the weather not too hot, the nest may be removed with commercial wasp spray. It is recommended to wear protective clothing and to have an escape route of sorts in case the wasps or hornets become aggressive.
Some wasps and hornets do not build the paper nests that are traditionally thought of as nests. Ground-nesting species live in burrows. These can be controlled through application of insecticide dust inside of the burrow. However, the wasps may still be aggressive when their burrow is approached. It may still merit calling a professional in order to obtain the correct insecticide and to apply it inside the nest while avoiding stings.
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When wasps and hornets nest inside of walls, it is absolutely best to call a professional. The two most widely available commercial insecticides–sprays and dust–cannot be used for various reasons. Sprays are simply ineffective due to the distance from the nest to the entrance and commercial dust is legally only allowed to be used outdoors. A licensed pest control professional can ensure that the wasps and hornets nesting inside of a wall are safely destroyed, after which the structure should be sealed up in order to prevent more wasps and hornets from re-entering and re-colonizing the space.
Do-it-yourself wasp and hornet removal should only be done under very specific circumstances for safety’s sake. Otherwise, an exterminator should be the one to eliminate the nest.