Question: What sends your kids running insider faster than the call of ice cream on a sweltering summer day? Answer: A wasp or two buzzing by their heads. Wasps can be a major headache in the summer in eastern Virginia, causing our relentless pursuit for how to get rid of them.

To that end, we hope this article will provide you with the knowledge and tips for how to get rid of wasps.

Wasps Commonly Found in Virginia

It is quite common for a wasp to be confused with a yellow jacket and vice versa. If you want the complete skinny on the difference between the two, then read our article, “Yellow Jackets vs. Wasps: What’s the Difference?” It’s easier, however, to identify them by learning what their nests look like.

  • Paper Wasps: These nests look like upside-down umbrellas and are supported by single stalks and made from a papery substance. Their nests are small, but open and only include a single layer of comb for brood rearing. These nests are commonly found beneath eaves of structures, in attics and wall voids, and in other enclosed areas. About paper wasps: These pests are ¾-inch to one-inch long and are slightly larger than yellow jackets. Their bodies are brown or black, with yellow to red markings. Like other wasp species, they will not sting unless they feel threatened. Paper wasps are brown and yellow; yellow jackets are black and yellow.
  • Mud Daubers: These nests often look like organ pipes, are small and tubular in size, and are typically found in cracks or crevices that are sheltered, including under eaves, in garages and attics, or on the sides of buildings. Their nests are built from mud. About mud daubers:Mud daubers are usually ½ inch to one inch long. They are black, with bright yellow markings on their thorax and legs, and a long, thin body that sets them apart from other wasp species. They are a docile species and do not swarm like other wasps.
  • Yellow Jackets: These nests consist of a papery material and have a single opening. Most often, these nests are found in hollow trees and under porches. About yellow jackets: Yellow jackets are bee-sized wasps known for their distinct black and yellow markings. They are particularly abundant in Virginia. Adults grow to about ⅜ inch to ⅝ inch.
  • Bald-Faced Hornets: These nests are usually at least three feet off the ground, can grow to be the size of a basketball, and consist of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva. While they are usually found in trees, bushes, and wooded areas, they can also be on buildings. About bald-faced hornets: Bald-faced hornets have long, thin wasp-like bodies, which are black, with an off-white pattern covering most of their face (which is why they are named “bald-faced” hornets).

While most wasps won’t attack unless threatened, they are not to be taken lightly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 62 deaths per year are attributed to wasp stings.

Bees or Wasps?

When you’re running through your Richmond, Virginia, backyard trying to escape a stinging insect, it is easy to mistake a honeybee for a wasp. They are quite different, though. Bees belong to the Apoidea family – and are more closely related to ants than to wasps – while wasps belong to the Animalia family. While people often confuse honeybees and wasps, they are not the same creatures. In addition, wasps are considered a pest species, while honeybees are considered a keystone species that are critical to the environment.

Because of the importance of honeybees on our ecosystem, we do not recommend removing them from your yard or property. Furthermore, bees are not aggressive, and can only sting once before dying. Wasps, on the other hand, can sting multiple times.

How to tell the two apart? Honeybees have larger bodies and a light coating of downy hair.

What Attracts Wasps to My Yard?

Before we can share with you how to get rid of wasps from your eastern Virginia yard or home, it is important to understand what they are doing there in the first place. There are five primary reasons why wasps are attracted to one place and not another, which is important to understanding how to get rid of them once and for all.

  1. Flowers: Just like you, butterflies, hummingbirds, and so many other creatures we like to have around, wasps like flowering plants. They are attracted to the fragrance of flowers and feed on their nectar. So, if you have a sizeable flower garden, it would be common to see a wasp or two. Warning: Wasps are known to be attracted to the scent of perfume, so apply lightly during wasp season.
  2. Food Sources: Wasps emerge from hibernation in the spring, and after months of slumber, they are hungry – very hungry. If your yard offers them anything to eat, they’ll come – and they’ll stay. If you notice wasps hovering above the ground, it is because they are preying on larvae, grubs, and other insects. Getting rid if these lawn critters will reduce the likelihood that wasps will make your backyard their home.
  3. Leftovers: Like most of us, wasps love a free meal. They’re especially fond of protein-based foods and will scavenge meat scraps and grill drippings. So, discourage wasps from hanging around by cleaning up spills promptly and covering your cooked food.
  4. Sugar: Come fall, wasps start thinking about hibernation, which means they need to discover a source of sugar that will get them to spring. They’re not picky; fruit juice, hummingbird feed, soda cans with a drop or two remaining, fallen fruit from trees, and anything else that contains sucrose can be part of their diet.
  5. Shelter: Also in the fall, the queen is impregnated by male wasps (which die afterward) and then seeks shelter for the winter. If your yard provides a haven – think cracks, crevices, and insulated walls, crevices – from the harsh Virginia winter and potential predators, then they just might move in for the season, if not longer.

How to Get Rid of Wasps in Your Yard

No matter your reason, we have six effective tips for how to get rid of wasps from your yard.

  1. Spray the Nests: For active wasp nests that are in your yard, a store-bought wasp spray can do the trick. However, you need to take every precaution, so that you don’t make yourself the target of hundreds – if not thousands – of incredibly angry wasps. First, purchase a wasp spray with a nozzle that allows you to spray from a distance. Second, wear protective clothing. Third, spray late in the evening, when the wasps are dormant, and the workers and queen are all inside. Finally, re-spray the nest repeatedly over the course of a few days, if needed.
  2. Hang Traps: If you’re wary about spraying the nest and disturbing – rather than killing – the wasps, then hang wasp traps. The liquid in these traps attract wasps, which get stuck and drown after entering the trap itself. They’re effective but can be unsightly once they accumulate dozens of dead wasps.
  3. Soap and Water: If the nest is small, you may be able to kill the wasps inside by mixing two tablespoons of dish soap with water in a spray bottle. When you spray it on the nests, the mixture will clog the wasps’ breathing pores, killing them instantly. Follow the same precautions in tip No. 1.
  4. Kill Emerging Wasps: Store-bought wasp killing sprays are effective for eliminating individual wasps. Spray wasps as you see them, but make sure you precisely follow all label directions.
  5. Treat Your Yard: In addition to the tips above, you can treat future nesting areas with liquid insecticides available at your local hardware store. Just spray the insecticide where you think wasps would nest, such as your wooden fence, deck, or patio. The likelihood that wasps will build a nest where you have sprayed is minimal.
  6. Call Us: While many people like the do-it-yourself route, killing and removing wasp nests is not without risk. Therefore, we recommend you call us instead at 757.520.5381. We will remove existing wasps and take steps to prevent new colonies from forming.

How to Get Rid of Wasps in Your Home

If your problem is not outside, but inside, then your approach to the problem must be different. Here, then, are four tips for how to get rid of wasps inside your home.

  1. Search for Entry Points: Sure, an errant wasp can fly into your house when you open the door or window, but if you’re seeing several wasps, they are likely entering your home through a tiny gap somewhere. Check your eaves, your vents, the mortar between your bricks, and the beams and supports in your garage – these are familiar places wasps like to build nests. Even the tiniest crack can give them access to your home. So, find their access points and seal cracks and gaps with silicone caulk.
  2. Try This Home Remedy: If you discover a nest being built inside your home, then try this effective remedy. In a bowl, mix two cups of apple cider vinegar with two cups of sugar and one cup water. Place the bowl near the nest, where it will attract and kill the wasps.
  3. Spray Nests: While over-the-counter wasp sprays kill wasps instantly, we advise caution when spraying indoors. These insecticides contain chemicals that can be extremely dangerous to your family and pets. If the nest is in an area of your home that is rarely used and can be shut off from the rest of the house, then spraying might be okay. Still, rather than spraying, we suggest you call us.
  4. Call Us: Speaking of calling us, because we also know how to get rid of wasps inside your home, we suggest this is your best alternative. An indoor wasp problem can be difficult to manage, unless you are professionally trained – which our pest control technicians are – trying to handle it yourself can take time and be dangerous.