The Paper Wasp: A Dangerous Nuisance
They can be a nuisance when they build nests around your property. They live in colonies and will aggressively defend their nest against predators such as honeybees, mud daubers, ants, and you and your family.
What Do They Eat?
Paper wasps are considered valuable insects in the garden because they prey on caterpillars, beetle larvae, flies and other insects that damage plants. These omnivores also feed on nectar, and therefore, are helpful pollinators.
But because of their fondness for sweets and floral fragrances, people enjoying the outdoors are at risk for stings.
What Do Paper Wasps Look Like?
They are most easily identified by their distinctive nests.
The wasp itself is usually an inch or under in length, with a slender body and well-defined waist. Colors vary depending on type, and range from yellow, orange, reddish-brown or dark red with brown wings.
A Paper Wasp Nest
If you find a small, gray or brown, papery thing, that somewhat resembles an upside-down umbrella, hanging from a tree branch, or your eaves, door frames, porch ceiling, garage, or in your attic, you might have found a wasps nest.
Sometimes paper wasp nests are confused with yellow jacket nests, but there are two visible differences:
Paper Wasp vs Yellow Jacket
- Paper wasp nests are always above ground, while yellow jackets often construct underground nests or locate nests inside a hollowed-out structure.
- Yellow jacket nests are larger and more elaborate with numerous layers, compartments and cells.
Paper wasps build their nests in spring. They chew wood fiber into a pulp and fashion it into a paper-like material that they use to construct cells in which they lay their eggs and rear their young. The pulp hardens when exposed to air, so the structure is made semi-rigid by this process.
They spend the night in the nest, and feed during the day, returning to the nest periodically to care for their young. During winter, the queen wasp hibernates in the nest alone without her drones or workers for protection. Therefore, winter is the perfect time to safely clear out any paper wasp nests you may find.
The Paper Wasp Sting
While wasps are generally beneficial and mild-mannered, they are protective of their nests and may react aggressively if the nest is disturbed. Be careful when working in your garden. Before pruning shrubs or picking fruit, visually inspect the plant for nests.
Paper wasps are not known to sting unless provoked, but when they do, their sting is painful. Home remedies to reduce the pain of a sting include using ice, vinegar, baking soda, toothpaste, honey or aloe vera to help with the swelling. If you have a known allergy or are experiencing allergic reactions such as a rash over your entire body, low blood pressure or breathing difficulty, get immediate medical attention.
The best way to avoid getting stung is to stay away from them. If you see one or have been stung, call your pest control company for paper wasp removal. In the meantime, keep your doors and windows closed and don't walk around outside barefoot.
How to Get Rid of Paper Wasps
The best way to get rid of paper wasps is to prevent them from building nests in the first place.
- Don't leave pet food, crumbs or trash outside because they are attracted to sugar and carbohydrates.
- Seal off any cracks on the exterior of your home and repair broken windows or screens as soon as possible. Paper wasps can fit into small openings, so make sure that all holes around your soffits, shingles, window and door frames are sealed properly.
- Be careful when working around your awnings, attics, porches, decks, garages, as well as smaller protected sites such as electric outlet boxes, hose reels and gas grills.
- Some gardeners believe certain herb plants repel paper wasps. Among these plants are thyme, spearmint, peppermint and citronella.
Wasp Removal Services Near You
Get a Croach® pest exterminator near:
- Seattle (including Mukilteo, Sumner, Kirkland, Tacoma, Mount Vernon) and Tri-Cities, Washington.
- Spokane, Post Falls, Kooskia, Lewiston, and Boise, Idaho.
- Portland, Beaverton, Oregon.
- Denver, Aurora, Colorado.
- Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina.
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Salt Lake City, Sandy, Utah.