|University of Kentucky Entomology|
CONTROLLING WASPS, HORNETS AND YELLOWJACKETS
By Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Paper wasps, hornets and yellowjackets are a potential health threat to Kentuckians. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people in the United States die each year from allergic reactions to the venom of these insects. Wasps, hornets and yellowjackets are more dangerous and unpredictable than honey bees and should be treated with respect; nests should be eliminated with great care and in a specific manner.
Following treatment, wait a day to ensure that the colony is destroyed, then scrape or knock down the nest. This will prevent secondary problems from carpet beetles, ants and other scavenging insects.
A full wasp suit sealed at the wrists, ankles and collar is recommended when disposing of a hornet nest. Treatment can be accomplished by applying a wasp freeze-type, aerosol insecticide or dust formulation (Sevin, or Ficam,) directly into the nest opening. Hornet nests have a single opening, usually toward the bottom, where the wasps enter and exit. It is essential that the paper envelope of the nest not be broken open during treatment or the irritated wasps will scatter in all directions, causing even greater problems.
Following treatment, wait at least a day before removing the nest to ensure that all of the wasps are killed. If hornets continue to be observed, the application may need to be repeated. Experienced pest control operators will sometimes remove a hornet nest which is attached to a branch by slipping a plastic garbage bag over the intact nest and clipping it at the point of attachment. This technique should not be attempted by anyone else and should only be done at night with a wasp suit.
Sevin (tm), or Ficam (tm), dust is also very effective provided a handduster or similar type applicator is used to dispense several puffs of the insecticide dust in to the nest opening (an empty, dry liquid detergent bottle, filled no more than halfway with dust and shaken before dispensing works well).
Treatment should be performed late at night after all yellowjackets are in the nest and less active. It's best to pinpoint the nest opening during the daytime so you will remember where to direct your treatment after dark. Approach the nest slowly and do not shine the beam of the flashlight directly into the nest entrance as this may startle the wasps; instead, cast the beam to the side to illuminate the nest indirectly and place the light on the ground rather than in your hand. Similar to hornets, yellowjackets are extremely aggressive when the nest is disturbed. It may be prudent to call a professional pest control company, particularly when access to the nest is difficult.
An Alternative Solution
If the nest is located away from high traffic areas, another option is to wait and do nothing. In Kentucky, wasp, hornet and yellowjacket colonies die off naturally after the weather turns cold, and the paper carton disintegrates over the winter months.
People Who Are Allergic to the Venom
Wasp, hornet and yellowjacket stings can be life-threatening to persons who are allergic to the venom. People who develop hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, wheezing or similar symptoms of allergic reaction should seek medical attention immediately. Itching, pain and localized swelling can be somewhat reduced with antihistamines and a cold compress.
CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.
Of course, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE!
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