Spotting and Safely Removing Wasp Colonies

If you’re a homeowner, chances are you’ve had to contend with a wasp nest on your property at one time or another. There are many places wasp colonies can decide to build their nests. The most common wasp species in Massachusetts include yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bald-faced hornets, but there are more than 200 species of bees, hornets, and wasps residing in this state.

Yellow jacket nests can house thousands of insects, and can be found below ground, in attic and wall voids, or on exterior siding. Paper wasps form smaller colonies and attach their nests to trees, shrubs, porch ceilings, roof overhangs, decks, and attic rafters. Hornets prefer to build their large nests in and around where people work, live, and play, and can be found in trees and shrubs.

If an invasion of wasps has started to sideline your backyard barbecues and picnics, it’s time to call a professional pest control company in Tewksbury right away.

Here are some helpful tips to spot and safely remove a wasp nest; however, it’s never advised to remove a colony yourself, for your own safety and that of your family.

Characteristics of a Wasp Nest

First, what does a wasp nest look like? Depending on the species, each wasp nest could look different and be placed in different areas. Many wasp nests get mistaken for bees’ nests, but there are some differences. For instance, bees prefer sheltered spots and do not make their nests near people, unlike wasps that prefer exposed places.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are a cavity-dwelling species. So while they are capable of building exterior nests, they usually prefer to build them inside walls, sheds, soffits, and attics – anywhere that is sheltered. Another place you may find a nest is in the ground, where they often take over abandoned rodent burrows.

To build their nests, they chew wood fiber or drywall into a pulp to form a papery nest. Gray or brown in color, these nests have a wavy texture with only one entrance. While bees maintain their hives throughout winter, yellow jackets are around for only one season, as they die off when the weather turns cold. 

Paper Wasps

These social wasps are so named because they actually make their nests out of paper. This occurs through a process known as maceration, whereby they chew the fibers of wood, cloth, and bark. They break down these raw materials to form a paper-like product which results in an umbrella-shaped nest. You will commonly find these nests on tree branches and door frames, in attics, or in shrubs. 

Bald-Faced Hornets

Made of paper-like material from chewed wood fibers and saliva, hornet nests are comprised of layers of paper cells resembling a honeybee’s comb. It has three to four tiers of combs housed within a layered, thick, paper-like outer shell. Hornets build these large ball-shaped paper nests in spring to raise their young, with the nests sometimes reaching three feet tall. Side note: bald-faced hornets are actually more closely related to yellow jackets than to hornets.


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Safely Removing a Wasp Nest

If you’re not a professional, there really is no safe way to remove a nest on your own. DIY wasp nest removal poses a risk to your safety. For instance, because yellow jackets are a social species, they will get aggressive when they feel their colony has been threatened. Unlike bees, they can sting over and over again, putting you at risk for severe allergic reaction.

For this reason, it’s best to contact a wasp removal specialist in MA. But for general purposes, here’s a look at how the pros safely remove a wasp nest.

What NOT to Do

First, here’s a list of things you should never do to remove a wasp nest:

  • Burning it: Using fire as a means of nest removal is a dangerous approach and is never advised. Because their nests are made of a paper-like substance, they are very flammable and can spread to other areas of your property very quickly. In addition, burning a nest does not kill all the wasps. The remaining ones inside will become aggressive and violent, and the foragers outside the nest will attack you because you are threatening their colony.
  • Flooding it: Flooding a wasp nest is not an effective method or removal, as it can further damage your property. Let’s say the nest is in your attic. If you pour water over it, you can cause water damage to the ceiling plaster boards and attic beams. Like fire, this approach will not kill all the wasps; when threatened, they will just go on the attack.
  • Hitting it with a baseball bat: Because you must be in such close proximity of the nest when destroying it with a bat, you are at direct risk of attack. Multiple stings are painful at least and deadly at worst, possibly leading to anaphylactic shock.

What to Do

Now, here’s a look at safe ways to remove a nest: 

  •     Wear protective clothing and gloves.
  •     Approach the nest quietly and slowly at night time when the wasps are less active.
  •     Slowly cover the nest with a garbage bag.
  •     Detach the nest and seal the bag.
  •     Place the garbage bag in an exterior garbage can with a tightly fitted lid, located away from the house.
  •     If possible, spray the wasp nest with pest control spray before removal.

Now, as we said before, this is a highly risky way to remove wasp nests. A professional pest control technician will come equipped with all the proper equipment and gear to protect them against stings and remove the nest in the least invasive way possible. They are also skilled at working in tight spaces such as attics, and high up on ladders. In addition, they possess a deep knowledge of wasps, their behavior and their instincts. And finally, they have access to powerful pest control products not available to the general public to successfully remove wasp nests.


Get a Free Quote on Wasp Nest Removal From Best Known Pest Control

Got a wasp nest plaguing your yard? Before you attempt DIY removal and risk your safety, call Best Known Pest & Wildlife at 781-333-1998, fill out the online form, or email us at