How to deal with wasp nest?

kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)September 2, 2009

Last night I heard some noises coming from above the ceiling on the second story. It was a sort of rustling sound, and I thought I might have a mouse or a bird up in the attic. Today I went outside to see if any of the ventilation hole caps were missing. None were, but I did notice a couple of wasps flying around up in that corner. When I looked closer, it looked like they had made about a 1" hole through the wood siding and were probably building a nest inside. First off, do I have to worry about the wasps doing further structural damage in the attic to my rafters? Second, I'm thinking of getting rid of them by waiting until it gets dark out and cooler (when I assume they may be active inside but not flying around outside) and go up on a ladder with a spray can of wasp killer. I thought I'd plug most of the hole with a rag and then shoot the spray inside. Given that I'll have to be on a ladder, I recognize I'll have to be ready for a quick descent, but I will be wearing protective clothing and an enclosed face shield that I use for dust protection in my wood shop. Can anyone suggest improvements or alternatives to this plan, short of calling a professional? Thanks.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Improvements
1. Leave it be because they don't threaten people, etc.
2. Leave it be because they aren't building a nest; instead their population is declining.
3. Leave it be because the wasps will die about mid-December.

Beyond that, after there's absolutely no further in-out traffic, cover/seal the hole.

From now until then, they won't do any damage to your house. They are simply using an existing wall/ceiling void.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 11:22PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Please don't kill them...Do exactly what jean has said to do..
They are harmless if left alone and they are declining in number..
Are you sure they are wasps? How about honey bees? Even worst to kill these off since they have almost deminished around many parts here..:-(

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 5:35PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Trust me, I know the difference between wasps and bees and these critters are wasps. As I write this just before midnight, I can hear them making noises over my head 10' away. Can you assure me that there are no types of wasps that are destructive to my rafters? They've already made a pretty good size hole in my siding where none existed before..

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:29AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Rhizo,where are you??????????

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:25AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just sitting here, Mike, mulling over how much I would hate to have a large wasp population in my attic. :-O

Kudzu, I don't like your plan of trying to dispatch the wasps with a can of bug killer, while dangling from a ladder. For one, you don't know where the nest might be, exactly, or even if a blast of the wasp killer would do anything to get rid of it. Ever hear of the phrase, "mad as a hornet"? You absolutely do NOT want an angry, defensive wasp or hornet population in your attic. Nor do you want to blast the area with a bunch of toxic chemicals that could effect you and your household.

Your safest and most effective avenue is to do as Jean suggests. Wait until the nest dies off this winter. Then, I'd go up to the attic and remove the nest(s) and get rid of the corpses. In the daylight, with the attic light off, you can see any pinpoints of sunlight that may offer next year's batch of wasps entry. Mark those entry holes with paint so that you can come back and seal them properly.

Wasps, etc., don't reuse old nests, but it's just good housekeeping to get rid of the debris so that other critters don't come in for investigation.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 11:43AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Rhizzo....

:-)!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 12:59PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I hear you guys and am mulling over my options, including calling in professionals. The decision hinges on the answer to one question that no one has answered: Is it possible they are doing structural damage beyond the hole they've created in the siding. This house is just a couple of years old and the hole was not in existence last year, which I am sure of as I've been in that area cleaning the gutters previously.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:00PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Just talked to a friend who works at Bains pest Control finally.

Here is the verdict..

They can be destructive if left alone. Not like carpenter ants though.
Often it depends on the size of the nest and how long they have been there. And yes, they can make that hole..:-(

But the experts said that what ever they have done is already done, and the humane way to rid them now is to let them die off naturally, then block the whole and destroy that nest. He doesn't even like to kill them..Hum

So if you can not wait till they die off around October or November as he said, when the frost get bad, then do as you woulld like.But they can get evil if you plan on spraying....They will leave you alone if you just let them ie off...

They tell everyone to wait till they die of natural causes this late in the season, because they have already done their damage for this year....

Hope this helps you make your descision...

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:16PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Mike-
I'm not eager to destroy any living thing, but I've spent enough time doing maintenance on my house and repairs due to critters, that I have a concern about letting things deteriorate. However, it sounds like what is done is done, so I think I'll do the easy thing and let Nature take care of the matter. Thanks for doing the extra digging for info. I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 6:31PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Your are a good person...

I am happy you went the way of letting them just die off considering it so late in the season anyway.

You are welcome. We are all here to help. Just don't forget to destroy the nest and repair your hole before spring..I wish you well!:-)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 6:52PM
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pennysworth2009

I have another question on wasps.

We bought a lot next to ours and it has not been worked for awhile.
My son was mowing the other day a found a wasp nest underground. He says they are like a wasp but smaller than normal wasps.
Will these also die out this winter. He says the nest is pretty big, and does not think they will all die, due to how big the nest is.

penny

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 12:20PM
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bob_cville

Twice in past houses I've lived in, I've found a yellowjacket nest entry hole beneath the bottommost board of the siding. One was right next to the back door of the house and if closed the door too hard they would come out to defend the nest. I tried one store brand of wasp/hornet killer on them, but it didn't seem to have any effect. The force of the spray would knock them to the ground, but they would shake off, and fly away, seemingly unharmed. I tried a stronger name-brand wasp/hornet spray, that killed the wasps on contact, but those in the nest stopped using the poisined entrance, and found another way out of the nest directly into the basement.

Another time I had a yellowjacket nest (which is probably what pennysworth son found) in the ground in our yard 3 feet from the corner of where we would set up the volleyball net. (Bump. Set. Sting. :-) Based on a suggestion from a friend, I ran an extension cord out into the yard and set the shop-vac there, with its snout right next to the hive entrance, sucking up the wasps as they left or came back, for several hours. The next morning when I crept out to check on the nest, I discovered that something had come by in the night, dug open the entrance to the nest, and pulled out and munched on the remaining larva filled nest pieces, leaving a hole 6 inches across and about 2 feet deep.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 12:02PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Penny, basically all wasps and hornets build annual nests that are abandoned in Fall...honey bees are the exception and build perennial nests or hives that are used from year to year.

If you can avoid the underground nest until frost, your problem should be solved without you having to take any action.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 3:05PM
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thepaan(6)

Since when is it inhumane to kill something that isn't human? Quit fooling yourselves. Pests are pests regardless of their circumstances. Do what you gotta do.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 3:14PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Contrary to common myth it is not frost that kills off these wasps, it is extended cold, below freezing temperatures. Except for the new Queens that will be establishing new hives next spring all the wasps in the current nest will be killed by the cold, below freezing weather for an extended period of time. The Queens, most often more than one, will stay put until next spring and then emerge (and this is the only time the Queens will go out and about) and look for a handy dandy place to built a new nest and start to produce more workers, a few of which wil be slected to become the next years Queens.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 8:11AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Not necessarily true, Kimmsr. We don't reliably have extended periods of below freezing conditions here and wasps/yellow jackets are annual in this climate. You have to consider wet, dark, or chilly weather, fewer daylight hours, less opportunity to forage on a reduced food supply....all coinciding with the onset of overnight frost/Fall - usually approx the time of first frost, they are gone.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 1:17PM
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pennysworth2009

Thanks for the help.

My worry is that being as the nest being under ground that it might be to deep to kill them off. And he has got stung today. He is trying to get it tilled so he can put our garden there next summer.

Normally we let things live as long as they do not bite or sting us, but with little ones that like to be with dad when he is working in the yard it is hard not to just take care of them.

Anyway I will tell him what was suggested here and he will have to decide what to do.

penny

    Bookmark   September 20, 2009 at 2:10PM
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anitamo(5)

Is it imperative to remove the nest if inside? What if you can't get to it? I know there is a nest (pretty sure it's wasps, not honey bees) behind the bricks near the front door. They got in through a small crack, and I can't tell if they went into the attic or down to the basement or just staying put in some void behind the brick. We don't often use this door, so I'm fine in letting them stay...

If I know they will be gone come fall and not get into the house somehow. So, the main question is, what do I do if I can't find the nest?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 6:49PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

So here is the update to my original post. The wasps did die off over last winter and did not come back. However, I noticed a 6" spot on the sheetrock ceiling where I knew the nest was located and it looked like water damage. When I pushed on it slightly, it collapsed. Upon investigation, there was a huge, abandoned nest flush up against the attic side of the sheetrock and it was about a foot and a half in diameter. Apparently in forming the nest, the paper and gypsum got dissolved all the way down to the paint on the ceiling. I ended up removing the huge nest, cutting out about 2 square feet of sheetrock, and vacuuming out the frass (wasp poop) that was surrounding the nest and sitting on the sheetrock, and falling on my head as I was trying to clear away the nest and deteriorated sheetrock. The wasps did no damage to the wooden joists, but I can't really say that I'm happy to have a sheetrock repair and paint job to do now.

If I would have known what a mess this was going to be, I would have thought more about options to get at the nest before it got this far. But it's good I didn't crawl into that corner of the attic to investigate!

Here is what collected in the bathtub below the hole...

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 7:30PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Thank you very much for the update. A dandy nest indeed!

tj

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 2:21AM
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