Hornets killer how to survive dangerous neighbors

YOUR HOME; Eliminating Wasps and Their Nests


SOME wasps sting and some do not.

And while some stinging wasps do so only when individually provoked, others sting as part of a devastating organized assault upon their victim.

It helps, then, to know which wasp is which, what to do when one is encountered and, most of all, how to keep wasp populations at bay. That is particularly true when wasps show up indoors rather than outside the home.

”Around this time of year, many bugs are beginning to appear mysteriously inside homes and businesses,” said Michael F. Potter, a professor of urban entomology at the University of Kentucky. Among these insects, Dr. Potter said, are an array of different flies and bugs and, alas, certain types of wasps. ”These critters actually gained entry last fall through cracks and openings, and spent the winter hibernating in attics, soffits, wall voids and window and door casings,” he said.

While most bugs are merely an annoyance when they appear indoors, the appearance of wasps inside a house can create a palpable sense of anxiety among residents. ”Ladybugs, cluster flies and stink bugs characteristically do not bite, sting or carry diseases,” Dr. Potter said. Wasps, on the other hand, can impart a painful wallop when they are provoked.

”When you’re seeing wasps inside a house at this time of year, you’re probably seeing what are known as paper wasps, and it’s almost always the result of the emergence of overwintering queens,” he said, pointing out that while some wasps do not sting, overwintering queens do.

Paper wasps, Dr. Potter said, typically make their umbrella-shaped honeycombed nests in the early spring in attics and chimneys and around the eaves and ledges of a house. ”The nests are constructed of a paperlike material containing finely chewed wood fragments and salivary secretions of the wasp,” he said. In the fall, Dr. Potter said, the males wasps die off, but not before impregnating nearby available queens. The queens then typically look for a protected place to spend the winter. And in many cases, he said, insulated wall cavities fit the bill nicely.

With the onset of warmer weather, Dr. Potter said, the queens begin to emerge from their hibernation sites. And, he said, as they attempt to escape to their natural habitat outdoors, some inadvertently make their way into the living areas of the home, ”emerging from beneath baseboards, behind window and door frames, from within sash-cord openings, and around light fixtures and ventilators.” And since insects are attracted to light, they typically head toward the nearest window.

”This is a temporary annoyance that will run its course as the weather continues to warm,” Dr. Potter said, adding that while emerging queens are not normally aggressive, they will sting if they are mishandled.

”The easiest way to dispose of these insects found indoors is with a vacuum cleaner, broom or fly swatter,” he said, adding that when the insects first emerge from hibernation, they are sluggish and usually land on the nearest window.

Jack Conniff, an area representative for the J.C. Ehrlich Company, a pest-control company based in Reading, Pa., said there is little that can be done now to prevent wintering female wasps from finding their way into a house, but steps can be taken over the next few months to reduce the potential for a repeat performance next year. ”You want to inhibit the inward migration of the wasps,” Mr. Conniff said. ”And the best way to do that is to spray the eaves with insecticide.”

He explained that as new wasp colonies are being formed in the spring, many will build nests under the eaves of the house. So if steps are taken to dissuade the wasps from building nests on the house itself, it is less likely that the queens will find their way into the building when looking for a place to hibernate in the fall.

”Generally, early to mid April is the optimum time to spray the eaves,” Mr. Conniff said, adding that an additional treatment in early fall will eliminate wasps not killed the first time around.

”We can’t always keep them from getting in, but we can get them dead shortly after they do get in,” he said.

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A standard treatment for a two-story home, Mr. Conniff said, costs about $175.

Arthur Katz, president of Knockout Pest Control in Uniondale, N.Y., said that homeowners who are noticing an alarming number of wasps inside the house and who want to do what they can right now to eliminate the problem may be able to hire a professional to kill the wasps that are currently hibernating inside the walls. This can be accomplished, Mr. Katz said, by drilling small holes in the wall and then injecting an insecticide dust into the wall cavity.

”You may also be able to drill a hole in a window frame or in the woodwork near the floor,” he said, pointing out that insulation inside the wall will restrict the movement of the dust and decrease the effectiveness of the treatment. The price for such a treatment ranges from $150 to $1,000, depending on what needs to be done.

Ken Martin, president of doyourownpestcontrol.com, an Internet-based pesticide supply company, said homeowners can perform some aspects of pest control themselves.

For example, Mr. Martin said, wasps in existing nests under eaves can usually be evicted — and summarily executed — using any one of a number of products designed to douse the nest with pesticide from a safe distance. Such products, which are available at most home centers and hardware stores cost $3 to $6.

”You want to destroy nests on the house as soon as you notice them,” Mr. Martin said. ”The further away from the house the wasps end up nesting, the less likely it is they will find their way into the house in the fall.” He pointed out that while such sprays kill on contact, they usually have only a limited residual effect.

Mr. Martin added that there are a number of do-it-yourself products that can be sprayed on the house, some of which will repel wasps for up to several weeks. Such products — which include Spectracide Wasp and Hornet Killer, Bayer Advanced PowerForce Multi-Insect Killer and Ortho Home Defense System — cost anywhere from $10 to $20 for enough to treat an average house.

Dr. Potter, the entomologist, said that whenever a homeowner is attempting to eliminate a wasp problem, caution is critical. For example, he said, while it is fairly easy to eliminate a nest of paper wasps by spraying the nest from a distance, it is critical to avoid standing directly under the nest when performing the treatment.

”Most wasp sprays cause insects to drop instantly,” he said. ”So standing directly under a nest increases the risk of being stung.”

Dr. Potter said that it is also wise to prevent wasps from entering the house by sealing gable vents on attics and filling in other gaps or openings where pests can enter. ”If you’ve got a torn window screen on a second-floor bedroom, paper wasps will form their nests in the space between the screens and the window,” he said. He added that while homeowners can usually tackle a nest of paper wasps, it is not advisable to attempt the same thing with other varieties of wasps, like hornets or yellow jackets. Paper wasps, he said, tend to be brownish or dark orange; hornets are larger than paper wasps and usually have black and white markings; and yellow jackets have yellow and black patterns.

”Hornets are far more difficult and dangerous to control than paper wasps,” he said, explaining that when a hornet nest is disturbed, the hornets emit a scent — called a pheromone — that inspires other wasps in the nest to attack. ”Hornet nests may contain thousands of wasps, which are extremely aggressive when disturbed,” he said. A hornet’s nest, Dr. Potter said, resembles a ”large, gray, bloated football,” and is typically attached to a tree, a bush or the side of a building.

Yellow jackets, he said, can be even more aggressive than hornets. ”Yellow jackets are probably the most dangerous stinging insects in the United States,” Dr. Potter said, adding that the insects typically build their nests underground, sometimes in an abandoned chipmunk burrows or under landscape timbers, but they can also be found in walls, attics, crawl spaces and behind the siding of buildings. Like hornets, he said, yellow jackets will mount a coordinated, persistent attack upon their victim.

”Removal of hornets and yellow jackets is best accomplished by a pest control firm,” he said.

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A version of this article appears in print on March 23, 2003, on Page 11011003 of the National edition with the headline: YOUR HOME; Eliminating Wasps and Their Nests. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


These Killer Insects Are a Lot Closer to Home Than You Think

If you aren’t afraid of bees now, you will be after you read this

The Asian giant hornet inhabits some of the best travel destinations in Asia, which is terrifying if you happen to suffer from apiphobia (fear of bees). Even if bees don’t scare you, you’ll probably be re-thinking your position if you happen to look at a photo of what happens to human skin after Asian giant hornet stings!

Even further investigation into the nature of these Asian killer bees, not to mention their behavior and potentially lethal capability, will make you positively petrified. If you’re still not afraid of bees, that’s probably going to change after reading this article.

What is the Asian Giant Hornet?

Although people unlucky enough to live where it resides have long feared it, the Asian Giant Hornet made international headlines in 2013, when a swarm of them killed 42 people in rural southwestern China. Those lucky enough to survive the Asian giant hornet stings were left not only with wounds resembling bullet holes, but with kidney damage, which in some of the cases will last a lifetime.

Part of the reason the Asian giant hornet is so deadly, even if you don’t encounter a swarm of them, is that it doesn’t die when it stings you. In fact, these hornets don’t even lose their stingers, are most other bee and wasps species do, so they can sting you multiple times if they’re especially agitated. And they usually are!

Where Does the Asian Giant Hornet Live?

Known scientifically as Vespa mandarina (that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?), the Asian giant hornet can be found all over Asia, from Taiwan, to mainland China, to Southeast Asia and west into India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It’s most common, however, in the mountains of Japan.

If, for example, you’re hiking the country’s historical Nakasendo trail, you could have several close calls with the hornets. If you’re lucky, they won’t attack you; you might even be more afraid of bears, given the threat of bear encounters in those woods.

(Side note: For such a futuristic, built-up country, Japan sure does have terrifying nature!)

The bad news is that in the future, you probably won’t have to travel to Asia to encounter the Asian giant hornet. Many scientists believe that the spread of Asian giant hornet stings over the years has been due to climate change, from regional droughts to rising temperatures across the board. Milder winters results in fewer of the creatures dying each year, and scarcity of water and other resources make them even more hostile than they would usually be.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves from the Asian Giant Hornet?

To be sure, although most wilderness creatures run (or fly, as it were) in fear upon hearing the stomping of a human or similarly large mammal, Asian giant hornets hear our steps as a call to arms, which says nothing of their attraction to our sweat, the sweet substances we consume and even some of the colors we wear.

The good news is that authorities in certain countries are attempting to destroy Asian giant hornet nests, which resemble large basketballs dangling from trees, cliff faces and other high places. The bad news is that doing so is dangerous and, thus far, only minimally effective, especially given the aforementioned spread of the species due to climate change.

If you travel in Asia and you see one of two of these creatures, stay calm and don’t panic. If you hear loud buzzing and notice a swarm, however, you should really run for cover as fast as possible. Regardless of which action you take or what fate befalls you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!


Bald Faced Hornet
Safely Removing the Nest

The bald Faced Hornet, also called White Faced Hornets, are members of the wasp family. They are known for making large, enclosed paper nests that generally consists of a small entrance hole usually near the bottom. Larger nests may have more than one entrance hole. I know from personal experience their sting is quite painful.

The average sized nest is about the size of a football, but can get many times larger. The hornets are fast fliers and can quickly swarm any potential threat. They are most aggressive when protecting the nest.

Their bad reputation is well justified when defending the nest. I can personally testify to this because I have been stung multiple times in a single attack. When on the attack, they are so fast there is really nothing you can do except run. You don’t need to be actively irritating the hornets at the moment you are stung. Once you get in their sights, you can leave for a short time and then come back and they will actually fly past other people to sting the person they know was causing them problems. That is exactly what happened to me.

C.S. Lewis said, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but, by God, you will learn”.

Bald Faced Hornets in Hollywood Movies

Many Hollywood movies have played on the wasp’s fierce reputation. I recall a John Wayne movie that included a scene where a bald faced hornet nest was thrown into a train. There was also the movie “Man of the House” with Jonathon Taylor Thomas and Chevy Chase. In this movie, Thomas rigs a trap using a large hornet’s nest that drops onto the bad guys.

Here’s a True Story

When living on the North Fork of the White River in the Missouri Ozarks, a neighbor spotted a bear climbing down from a tree near his house. For some reason he rushed out and hit the bear with a stick to chase him away. The bear ran off. However, unbeknownst to my neighbor, the bear had been swatting at a hornet’s nest. As the neighbor was turning to go back to the house, the hornet nest fell from the tree hitting the ground. He was immediately attacked by dozens of angry hornets receiving hundreds of stings.

Facts About the Bald Faced Hornet

While it is true that bald faced hornets do have a bad temper when their nests are disturbed, they are generally not a problem when found away from the nest. In fact, bald faced hornets are actually beneficial insects. They kill other small insects, including flies, that are fed to the young. Each nest consists of a queen, worker hornets, and drones. The workers are all female and are responsible for all stinging attacks and nest building. The drones are all male and have no stinger. Their job is to mate with certain females whose offspring will become queens.

The female bald faced hornets are often seen on untreated wood surfaces. They work tirelessly removing wood fibers used for nest construction. The nest starts off small, the size of a baseball, becoming oval shaped as it grows. Inside the nest is the standard waffle pattern that contains hornet larva. Before summer ends, it can be over two feet long and hold several hundred hornets.

Nests are most often built in trees. When built in trees they become almost invisible. Most people never even know it is there until the leaves drop in the fall. They do not reuse an old nest and start with a new nest each year.

When Should Hornets be Controlled

Bald faced hornet nest removal becomes necessary when the nest is close enough to the house that they become a threat to you or family members. They will build nests in hedges, on the sides of houses, underneath carports, inside barns, attics, and even the underside of sturdy patio furniture.

Hornet Nest Removal – Pesticides, Safety, and Precautions

The hornets must be killed before removing the nest. The easiest method of killing bald faced hornets is to use a “Wasp and Hornet” spray that says “Immediate Knockdown Power” or “Kills on Contact” on the label. They can be purchased at most hardware stores and even some grocery stores. Don’t expect the spray to kill immediately. (Their definition of “immediate” is different than mine.) Some will drop, some will cling to the nest and some will fly a short distance even when coated with spray.

Do not use sprays labeled for flies, mosquitoes, or other flying insects. Do not use “fogger” type sprays. They don’t have the knockdown power and you will probably get stung. Hornet stings are painful, especially multiple stings, so don’t chance it. The product you use must be labeled specifically for wasp and hornets.

Do not allow children to spray the nest, it is a job for adults only. Children may not understand the danger involved. Bee and hornet stings may look cute on “America’s Funniest Videos”, but if you have ever been attacked, you know it is not that funny.

The one good thing about the newer cans of hornet and wasp killer sprays was the lack of damage to plant tissue. Just 10 years ago, if you sprayed a can of hornet killer into the trees, it would kill all the leaves the spray touched. Lately, I have noticed that little damage was caused with the hornet sprays I have used. It may not be that way for every type of spray hornet spray.

Aiming and Shooting the Wasp and Hornet “Instant Knockdown” Spray Cans

The best time to spray is in the morning hours when the air is calm and cool. Make sure there is sufficient light to see clearly. Aim the can at the entrance of the nest and continue to spray until the can is empty. It will take under a minute. The spray will coat most of the nest killing the larva and adults. For large nests have an additional can in your other hand ready to spray. You don’t want to run out before the job is completed.

The inside of the nest will offer some protection from the spray. It may take a couple days before it is safe to approach a bald faced hornet nest after it has been sprayed.

There will always straggler hornets that will show up at the nest minutes to hours after you have sprayed it. These wasps that arrive later were out working gathering pulp or food. Be on the watch out for them if you decide to remove the nest fairly quickly after spraying.

Caution: Don’t Believe Spray Distance Claims on Can :

The picture on the can shows the can shooting a jet stream of spray at the nest. Cans used to do this, but I haven’t gotten a can that will shoot a solid jet stream like that.

Although some cans are labeled to shoot up to 27 ft. they are not accurate at that distance. Expect the jet stream to start breaking up and spreading out at about half the stated distance on the can. I just tested (Nov 2012) a can with 27 foot distance claims and it broke up at six feet! Unbelievable!

With the slight breeze I got maybe 10 feet out of the stream. You should always test the stream away from the nest first, but only for a second or so. You will loose too much spray if you test the stream too long.

Important: The maximum distance from the nest should not be much beyond the point where the stream begins to break up. This is because the stream will need to hit the nest and entrance hole with some force. If the stream breaks up before it hits the nest and only coats the outside and will not have any knockdown power. You will likely have to spray it again after they have calmed down.

Instant Kill Claims: I guess it really depends on the manufacturer’s definition of “Instant”, but if a bald-faced hornet flies off after being sprayed, it is not instant in my book, even if the hornet dies shortly after. Be careful of that.

It is very dangerous to use gasoline, kerosene, or diesel fuel. It is dangerous and you can get severely burned if it somehow ignites. Attempts at throwing a bucket of gasoline on the nest will probably get you stung. This is especially true if you miss the target. You will probably only get one attempt at it.

What to Wear When Spraying Bald Faced Hornets

If your plan is to stand in front of the nest to spray, you must dress appropriately.

Wear lots of padding. You should wear at least two pairs of loose fitting jeans, several shirts or a thick jacket, a large brimmed hat with netting over it. Tape the netting to your jacket or shirt while leaving enough slack for bending. Tape off all openings and the bottom of your pants and shirt sleeves. Wear leather gloves.

Caution: A person I know used netting over his hat when spraying a hornet’s nest, but the netting was touching the tip of his nose. One hornet stung him on the nose through the net. Make sure the netting is not resting on your skin.

Have an escape route established should something go wrong. Make sure no one else is in close vicinity when you start spraying. Move your pets inside as well. If hornets are anything like honey bees, they will break off the chase before 300 ft. (Not so for Africanized bees where attacks have continued for over 1000 ft.) Make sure your escape route is opened ended should you need more distance.

Do Not Forget The Heavy Armor

Depending on the location of the nest, the following advice may be helpful. A few weeks ago I killed a small bald faced hornet nest that was in a shrub several feet from our basement door. I was able to get within 5 feet of the nest by spraying from inside my car.

What I did was lower my driver’s side window a few inches and placed duct tape across the opening leaving a three inch gap in the middle. This small gap is where the can’s nozzle is placed. I pulled the car directly in front of the nest and began spraying. I had one finger on the electric window switch should there have been a need to raise the window quickly. I didn’t need it. I was able to kill the entire nest and took it down two days later.

Important Precautions When Spraying From Inside a Car

  • It is important to wear eye protection. Since your eyes will be on the nest and not the can, should the can move slightly allowing the stream to hit the tape, it could easily splash pesticide into your eyes.
  • Place a towel directly under the can before you start spraying. Some of the pesticide always drips down the can and could drip on the arm rest or elsewhere in the car.
  • Wash off the outside of your car after spraying the nest. You will certainly get pesticide overspray on the paint surface.

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