You might think that the sunny, spring days in eastern Virginia are a wonderful time to enjoy working and playing outside – and you’re not the only one. Wasps and bees also find these warmer days an invitation to fly around your yard looking for food and a lovely place to build a nest.

Eastern Virginia is home to thousands of wasp species. Many wasps are hard to identify without getting too close, which is why so many people use the term wasp or bee to describe almost any flying insect that stings. This includes honeybees, hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets. Many species are harmless, but you don’t want to get within striking distance to determine which one is in your yard. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.

Wasp Season

When the weather heats up in the spring, queen wasps emerge from hibernation and start hunting for a new place to build a nest and a colony. By this time in May, nests are active, and you might see wasps flying back and forth in and around trees, eves, inside bushes, and other places protected from wind and predators.

The European hornet is one of the most common wasps. It’s also called the brown hornet or giant hornet and grows to almost two inches long. Their nests are usually at least six feet above the ground and can be found in hollow trees, attic voids, barns, and other places that give shelter and aren’t easily accessible to other creatures. Sometimes the nest can be seen, but most of the time the location of the nest is a mystery. These adult wasps are active at night and drawn to light where other small bugs can be found and eaten. A professional can help locate a nest if you suspect that one is nearby, and the wasps are becoming a nuisance.

Paper wasps are also common. Their nests are easier to find and are usually located freely hanging from eves and tree branches. Wasp nests become fully formed hives by June and July, so it’s best to take care of them before they become a severe nuisance. Some hives can grow as large as 5,000 to 10,000 wasps. By that time, you can see wasps continuously going in and out of the hive locating and returning with food for the larvae. Hives this large are considered dangerous and should be professionally removed. The hive’s drones will protect the hive at all costs.

Yellow jackets make their nests in the ground and are fierce defenders of their hives. The entry to their nest can be as small as a nickel and often go unnoticed until you run over it with a lawn mower or step on it directly. These can be extremely dangerous situations because yellow jackets will chase you and can sting multiple times.

Locating Hives

Locating hives is usually done by accident and after a painful sting. It’s a good idea to check under decks, in trees and bushes, and around the eves of your house to find a nest before it becomes a serious hazard. When looking at trees or shrubs, you should be able to see sunlight through most branches. If not, then a nest could be blocking the light. Wasps also set up shop in ceiling overhangs (often in a corner) and near w

Taking Action

Wasps and yellow jackets are good for the environment and eat other pests. Fortunately, most Virginia wasps don’t sting unless provoked. If these insects are making your yard their home, then you likely have plenty of other insects, too. If they aren’t bothering you, it’s best to leave them alone, as all the residents of the hive will die off by winter, leaving the queen to hibernate alone and rebuild next spring.

Wasps and yellow jackets eat more than other insects. They also like sugary foods and are drawn to trash receptacles, ripe fruit, compost piles, and pet food. Wasps imprint food sources and will return to the same area to search for food repeatedly. Be sure to remove food sources or keep lids on these things when possible.

Professional Help

Wasps often nest in hard-to-reach areas. Trying to remove them or treat them yourself can put you in danger of being stung or, worse, injured from a fall. A professional is trained to treat and remove nests from hard-to-reach places safely.

Partnering with an experienced, local pest control and treatment company is the best way to rid your yard of wasps and yellow jackets safely. Eco Pest Control is a family-owned and locally operated company with more than 15 years of experience keeping properties in the greater Richmond, Newport News, and Williamsburg areas free of pests, including wasps and yellow jackets. Our technicians are registered and certified professionals that provide effective pest control and treatment services that control wasp and yellow jacket populations.