• Michael Perrino

Hornet Nests vs Wasp Nests: Know the Difference


Having an unknown nest in or around the house is dangerous, especially when it’s unknown whether or not it’s a nest of stinging or poisonous insects. Once confirmed what kind of nest they have, people usually find out that they have hornet or wasp nests. These nests are quite similar, but also different in some ways. Just like how hornets and wasps are distinct from each other.


So how do you spot the difference between the nests of hornets and wasps? They vary in numerous ways, including appearance and usual locations. Western specialists will first classify the type of insect to formulate a plan for the best kind of removal. Here's how to expertly distinguish their nests to help you properly handle your pest problem.


Identifying Hornet Nests from Wasp Nests

Appearance

Location

Hornet Nest

A hornet's nest is made from saliva and wood pulp they chew and construct into a nest. Usually, hornet nests possess a teardrop shape and can grow as much as the size of a basketball when finished. Hornet nests usually have only one entrance, with hexagonal walls (or combs), as well as an outer covering.

Where hornets decide to nest depends on what kind of species they are. European hornets are the only true hornet you'll find in the US. You'll find their nests in wall voids, tree branches, and shrubs, under the siding of houses, in attic rafters, or crawl spaces. One of the most common hornet species, the bald faced hornet, tends to build its nest high above in tree cavities, while the giant European hornet likes shelter, away from sunlight and moisture. Meanwhile, the Asian giant hornet, the latest species that invaded the United States in 2019, lives typically underground in subterranean nests, making their hornet colony challenging to locate. Usually, they create nests by digging into the ground, occupying pre-existing tunnels dug by other animals such as rodents, or scouring out spaces near rotted tree roots. In late fall to early winter, nests usually get abandoned and colonies die off due to the weather.

Wasp Nest

Wasp nests are normally rounded in shape and grayish-brown in color. They are composed of salivary secretion and scrapings of wood gathered from fencing, logs, and garden furniture. Hence they have distinctive papery covering and paper-like structure. A paper wasp nest (paper nests) will start very tiny initially, just about the size of a golf ball or walnut, when the queen wasp starts to create a nest in the spring. During late summer, the nest will grow as the number of wasps progress. Nests can get bigger late in the season. If they detect danger and feel the need to sting, adult wasps won’t hesitate to do so. Because of this, wasp nests shouldn’t be just carelessly opened. Wasps will spread all over your territory and may even affect other people’s homes.

Wasp nests are tubular mud shutes that are normally made in sheltered spots with an obvious way out. The common sites usually find wasp nests are wall cavities within buildings, crevices in masonry, hollow stems, hollow trees, roof eaves, garden sheds, the timber around homes, gardens, or garages. One of the most common wasp species throughout North America, the paper wasp (as well as European paper wasp and umbrella wasp), likes to create large, exposed nests in natural cavities like tree stumps or in cavities within buildings. A paper wasp nest is often compared to an upside-down umbrella and is usually built-in dark, secured areas like the eaves of buildings or the end of an open pipe.


Aside from what was mentioned, these are the possible traits and activities of wasps in your area:

  • Paper wasps like to build hanging nests. You would find wasp nests on eaves or tree branches.

  • The cicada killer wasps nest along nearby trees sheltering cicadas.

  • Digger wasps dig tunnels, typically in the dirt or between the cover of grass and plants.

  • Mud dauber wasps make mud nests under the eaves of houses, exterior walls, inside of barns, garages, and any muddy area in your home.

  • Spider wasps regularly burrow in the ground.

  • Sweet foods like fruit and juices attract wasps, but they don't perform any pollinating function.

Hornets and wasps aren’t the only yellow flying insects: there are also similar species to them, like bees and yellowjackets. A yellowjacket nest is often found underground in rodent burrows or animal burrows, making it easier to identify it as you can see yellowjackets rising from a hole in the ground. A mature yellow jacket nest in summer can hold thousands of individuals.


What To Do When You See An Insect's Nest At Home?



If you see some signs of hornet or wasp nests and signs of hornet or wasp activity like shavings of wood near your home, it's wise to keep nearby windows closed and contact an exterminator to have it eliminated. If you opt to conduct the wasp nest or hornet nest removal yourself, carefully follow these strict guidelines:


1. Be Sure You're Not Allergic to a Hornet or Wasp Sting

If you're not quite sure if you have an allergy to stings or not, it's best to have an allergy check-up with your doctor before you try to tackle the nest. If you realize that you have an allergy, you must call a professional pest control specialist to deal with it, as getting stung by angry wasps could be life-threatening for people allergic to these harmful stings.


2. Figure Out What Type of Nest You Have

Before anything else, it's wise to learn what types of bees you're dealing with, as this will give you a notion of the best way to get rid of its nest. You may solicit the help of your vector control district or an entomologist from a nearby university to distinguish the wasps correctly. Distinguishing the differences between solitary wasps and social wasps must also be done. Social insects, or social wasps as they are also called, are more aggressive than solitary wasps. For this reason, solitary wasps (such as Sphecid wasps,cicada killers, and mud daubers) are seen as beneficial insects. In distress, a social wasp delivers a pheromone that sends nearby thousands of wasps into a protective, stinging attack. Besides protecting their colony, hornets can also be aggressive around food sources and food supplies.


3. Roll Out Your Safety Gear

Wearing protective clothing when you try to get rid of a hornets nest or a Social Wasp Nest is necessary. This is to be safe from getting stung. A wasp sting is not only painful. It can also cause allergic results. So wear long jeans, socks and boots, a hooded sweater, and gloves.


4. Eliminate the Nests at Night

If you intend to get rid of a hornets' nest or wasps' nest on your own, it's advisable to eliminate the nest at night. When pests have a limited light source, they are least active, less aggressive, and have a slower reaction time. It is advisable to avoid standing directly under the nest during treatment.


How to Get Rid of the Nest Yourself


Some of the most efficient ways of treating a hornet or wasp nest involve using:


1. Pesticide Spray (Hornet/Wasp Spray)

You can buy a pesticide spray killing hornets or wasps. However, pesticides formulated for smaller insects like ants may not be potent enough to kill the pests. At Least it would help if you aimed at the nest entrance with a good spray distance. Let the spray last overnight. The next day or 48 hours after treatment, check the wasps' nest or hornets' nest from a safe range.


If all the wasps are dead, you can knock down the nest using a long stick, then throw it as soon as possible to prevent scout wasps from returning and reduce the risk of a secondary infestation. Keep in mind that all sprays left a residue, but nothing that couldn't be washed off with a garden hose.


Some of the most effective and popular foaming spray/non-foaming sprays in the market are:

  • Bonide Wasp

  • Bayer Delta Dust Insecticide

  • Ortho Home Defense Hornet & Wasp

  • Terro Wasp & Hornet Killer

  • Stryker Wasp & Hornet Killer PT Wasp

2. Insecticide Dust

If you're dealing with ground nests (such as those occupied by ground wasps and yellowjacket), insecticidal dust is much more helpful than aerosol sprays, which can't completely penetrate the nest. During the evening or early daybreak, use the dust liberally onto the nest entrance while wearing the proper protective gear. Just let the wasps enter and exit freely. As they move within the opening, they will be filled with insecticidal dust, which they will take into the middle of the nest, affecting the other wasps. If you strictly follow the application of insecticidal dust, the wasps should die off in a day or two. If not, you may replicate the method.


3. Dish Soap and Water Solution

If you prefer a non-toxic method of dealing with a nest, you can try using dish soap and water and water solution. To make this solution:

  • Pour ¼ cup of dish soap on a liter of warm water.

  • If you're aiming for an aerial nest, pour the soap solution into a hose-end spray bottle, then seek a strong stream of water right at the entrance of the nest for 10 to 15 seconds.

  • If you're aiming for a ground nest, pour the solution directly into the nest entrance, then quickly vacate the area.

4. Smoke

You can opt to use smoke as a pesticide substitute when clearing out a hornet or wasp nest. First, you need to start a small fire in your grill directly below the nest. This will suffocate the stinging wasp and force them to leave their nest. However, you have to take extra precaution and wear safety gear while doing this.


5. Water

Water is another way to eliminate a hornet or wasp's nest without harmful chemicals. With just a bucket of water and a cloth bag, you can drown hornet or wasp nests. What you need to do is first set a large bucket of water beneath the nest. Get a big cloth bag and make sure it’s in good condition: no tears and no holes. Put the cloth bag over the nest quickly and carefully, then tie it with a strong string so no insects could escape. Pull the nest from the tree branch, empty the bag holding the nest into the large bucket of water, and cover it with a secure lid. You can place a large stone on it to ensure that no wasps can get out. Leave it overnight and all the wasps will have drowned when you check it the following day.


Why Hiring A Pest Control Specialist Is Your Best Choice for Safe Treatment

Do-it-yourself hornet and wasp nest removal is not always the best option. Avoid harming yourself and seek the help of a pest control and stinging insect control specialist for a professional hornet or wasp nest treatment. Qualified professionals have the skills and tools to get the job done and prevent secondary infestation from =wasps, hornets, or any other insects that infest your home. When it's time to choose a pest control company, trust only Midway Pest Management. Provide your zip code and get a free estimate to continuously enjoy your indoor and outdoor activities without being bothered by pests. Contact us today.


Learn More: How to Deal with Hornet Stingers


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