A Wasp Nest Killer That Actually Works
Hello and welcome to DIY Gardening’s guide to the best wasp nest killers and how to use them.
My name is Daniel Woodley, and I spent 17 years working in the construction industry refurbishing old properties.
Every year I would come across wasp nests, sometimes 2 or 3 on the same property, and I’ve learnt how to kill them without calling in the exterminators.
I used to come across wasp nests so often that I always kept a few products in the work van so my team and I could deal with them promptly and get back to work.
I hope you find my guide below insightful.
Here are a Few Photos of a Wasp Nest We Removed
Below you can see 3 photos of a wasp nest my team and I removed from the void above a porch several years ago.
These images give you an idea of how big they can get.
(Click to expand images)
1) Confirm it Isn’t a Bees Nest
Your first step is to confirm that the nest isn’t a bees nest and it is indeed wasps.
The products which you can buy to kill wasp nests don’t work as well against bees and are likely to aggravate them. That means lots of aggressive bees looking for someone to sting.
Also, do remember that the bee population is in decline and some beekeepers will gladly come and collect a bees nest for free (assuming the type of bee produces honey of course).
Not sure what to look for?
Here are a few photos of bees and wasps.
2) Choose Your Wasp Nest Killer
There are two types of wasp nest killer you can buy – foam spray or powder.
Each product has its pros and cons:
Powder – the stronger of the two nest killer products but you do need to get fairly close to the nest, or at least where the wasps enter the void where the nest is located. Puff the powder at the nearest entrance points and the wasps will carry the powder into the nest on their wings where it will destroy it, usually within 12 hours. Use powder on small gaps above brick walls or between timber joists.
Spray foam – a weaker liquid-based wasp nest killer product that dries and becomes somewhat ineffective quickly. The key advantage is the distance you can stand far from the nest – some spray cans can reach over 5 metres, perfect for nests in trees, lofts or behind sheds etc.
Examples of when to use each product
When working in the construction industry we would sometimes remove panelling, roof tiles or even brick walls and then instantly get swarmed by wasps. This is when we would use the liquid spray foam as we could see the nest and wanted to keep a safe distance from it.
Other times we could see the wasps entering a small hole and we knew there was a hidden wasp nest somewhere, it was often in the cavity, up in the roof eaves or in a porch roof, occasionally we saw them getting in under a chimney. This is when we would use the powder. As we couldn’t see the nest, we covered the entry points and the wasps carried the powder into the nest.
The general rule of thumb is: Use spray foam when you can see the nest and keep a safe distance away. Use powder where you can’t see the nest but can see the gaps wasps are using to enter a void where the nest is located.
3) Best Time to Kill Wasp Nests
To get the best results from the wasp nest killer and avoid stings, you’ll need to apply it at the optimal time when the wasps are least active and with most of them inside the nest. This is usually during an overcast day or either early morning or late evening.
Avoid trying to kill the nest during the middle of a sunny day. The wasps will be extremely active and most won’t be in the nest, they’ll be outside.
If you’re using the powder wasp nest killer, you should only need to use one application, provided you’ve covered the entrance points sufficiently enough for the wasps to carry the powder into the nest.
The foam is very effective if you can soak the nest but if you can only see part of the nest, you may need to apply a second dose 24 hours after the first.
The wasp nest will be at its largest during the height of summer, with up to 10,000 wasps (average 2k-6k) but in the autumn the queen will leave the nest and the worker wasps will be more aggressive.
4) Wasp Deterrents
There are several ways you can deter wasps from lingering in your garden, bothering you and setting up home on your property.
From fake wasp nests that look so real, they scare off wasps to pots that capture and trap them.
By placing a few of these deterrent products around your garden, you’ll definitely see fewer wasps.
I’ve had success with the traps before, so give them a try.
Garden Wasp Traps
These traps are the most effective wasp capture products we’ve tested.
Just fill the bases with 2 parts water, 1 part fruit juice, 1 part vinegar and 4 tablespoons of sugar.
Then hang the devices near the edge of your property away from seating and playing areas.
If your garden is plagued by wasps, perhaps due to nearby apple trees or a wasp nest in a neighbouring garden, do give these traps a try.
Be warned though; these wasp traps attract lots of wasps and should only be used in gardens plagued by them. Use them in a garden that only sees a few wasps and you’ll just attract hundreds more.
Wasp traps are best used in gardens with fruit trees or other material that attracts wasps.
The Waspinator is a product designed to look like a wasp’s nest, hang it in your garden and the theory goes that wasps should think it’s a real nest from another colony of wasps and stay well away from it.
But does it work?
The team here at DIY Gardening did some research on this and we also asked a couple of experts for their opinion.
The general consensus is that this type of product won’t work if there’s already a nest nearby. The wasps will treat this product as a nest inside their territory and will behave as usual.
There is little chance of an entire nest of wasps moving home and relocating to a new place just because another colony of wasps has set up up home nearby.
However, when searching for a place to nest, wasps shouldn’t locate to an area within 4 metres of this product, so the Waspinator should deter wandering wasps from forming a new nest nearby in the first place.
Is this product a magic bullet to prevent any and all wasps from entering your garden?
No, but if your garden is plagued by wasps from nearby nests each year, we think the Waspinator could reduce the number of nests forming and given the reasonable pricing, it’s worth a go.
5) What to Do With Bees
There are dozens of reasons why bees might be visiting your garden; a nest nearby or pollen-rich plants in or near your garden being the most common reasons.
In general, it’s best to leave bees alone. The species is in decline and as a valuable pollinator, we need more bees, not less.
However, if you’ve found a nest on your property that is disruptive, perhaps close to a seating area, walkway or door then you should avoid trying to get rid of it yourself.
The chemicals formulated to kill wasps are less effective at bees who while more docile than wasps in general, can become extremely aggressive when attacked.
We recommend taking a few closeup photos of the bees and sending them to a local beekeeper.
Some beekeepers are so keen to increase the number of hives they have that they’ll come and collect the bees for free.
If the type of bees you have nesting on your property doesn’t produce enough honey to be harvestable (not all bees produce honey), expect to a pay a fee for their removal.
A Quick Recap
Wasp nests can get big quickly and can be disruptive if located near an area with lots of people, so act quickly.
Foam sprays can reach up to 4 or 5 metres but are only effective if they come into direct contact with the nest; if you can’t see the nest, foam sprays won’t work.
The powder is designed to be carried into the nest by the wasps, so deposit it anywhere you see a wasp entering or exiting.
Wasp traps attract wasps, so they should only be used in gardens that already have something that attracts them (like apple trees); otherwise, you may see more wasps despite trapping some of them.
Fake wasp nests have limitations and only work to deter wasps from building new nests within 4 metres or so.
A beekeeper should remove bees, so take a few photos and contact a local keeper; they might be able to help you for free.
Do wasps only sting once?
No, some bees can only sting once but wasps can sting several times.
When are wasps most active?
Worker wasps emerge in April and early May. From June to August the nest will be full and the wasps most active. Between August and September, the queen will mate with the males and produce more queen wasps that will leave the nest and overwinter for the next season.
How long do wasps live for?
The most common worker wasps live for between 12 and 22 days while queen wasps live for up to a year.
Where do wasps go in the winter?
Worker wasps have a short lifespan of up to 22 days and die off before winter. Queen wasps overwinter in lofts, holes and other sheltered locations.
How many wasps does a nest hold?
A wasp nest can hold up to 10,000 wasps but the average holds between 2-6000 wasps in the height of summer.
More From Daniel Woodley:
This guide to killing wasp nests was created by Daniel Woodley here at DIY Gardening and was last updated on the 6th of June, 2021.
Daniel spent 17 years working in the construction and home renovation industries. He’s a keen amateur gardener who also manages a large residential landscape in addition to his own mid-size garden.
He also enjoys growing vegetables and fruits as well as his herbaceous border and container garden.
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