Stinging insects from the Vespidae insect family are a huge problem if they decide to set up a nest near your home or if they are attracted to fallen fruit on your lawn such as apples, figs, or persimmons. Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your final days in the sun are not ruined by these painful flying pests.
First, identify your enemy, I mean, your pest. Knowing what type of vespidae is in the area helps you know where to find their nest. There are thousands of different types of stinging insects, so the best way to figure out what you have is take a photo and do a bit of internet research.
How to identify insects and their nests:
Wasps are a bit thinner and are usually black or tawny red, but can have a yellow band on their body.
Hornets tend to have a yellow back while yellow jackets, a close cousin, have yellow and black all over their body.
Vespidae tend to have no fur on their bodies, instead they have a shiny exoskeleton.
Honey bees have orange or yellow fur on their bodies and should be left alone as they only attack if you are disturbing their hive. If they have set up their hive in the middle of your lawn, you can contact your local beekeepers association and they will safely remove the hive. You will find nests either up in the air or in the ground. Nests built in the air start off small, just a few combs, but will be built upon if they’re given the chance.
Wasps and hornets like to attach their nests in places that are protected from the weather, so you may find them under decks, gutters, and inside sheds. They will look like grey mounds of paper or mud, but they always have an opening on the bottom. Nests under the ground are usually just a few holes and can be dangerous if you walk on them or drive a lawn mower over them.
Getting rid of any nest can be a bit tricky and isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t want to personally take down the nest, talk with your homeowner association management company and see if your community maintenance crew can do it for you. If you want to get your hands dirty, or just get sweet revenge, be prepared for the worst.
When and how do I get rid of nests?
Make sure you have an easy path to run away, your arms and legs are covered up, and you attack at night time. Wasps and hornets won’t be as active at night and by that point will have all returned to their hive so you’re sure to get all of them.
Above ground hives can be taken down with a can or intense bug spray. There are highly toxic and non-toxic brands, so choose the one you want to use. These bug sprays give you a high pressure can with a highly accurate nozzle so when you’re ready, read the instructions, prime the can, aim, and fire. You want to hose the base of the hive, aim for the hole at the bottom and spray it down until it’s soaking. After you don’t see any more movement from the nest, knock it down and throw it away so other wasps can’t use it later.
If you’re going after a ground nest, note where all the entrances to the nest are on the ground. Two methods you can safely use are insecticidal dust (such as boric acid) or just water. If you use dust, liberally puff or pour it into each entrance at night when there is no activity from guards or workers. If you use water, use a hose and liberally hose down each entrance, filling up the nest with water and drowning the little buggers inside.
If all else fails, hire an exterminator and enjoy a sting free year, just remember to check with your homeowner association management to submit a maintenance request, and to see if they have any they have contracts with or can recommend.