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How to get rid of wasps safely and keep them from coming back


 Learn how to get rid of wasp and hornet nests safely, and stop insects from building them in the first place.

wasp nest
Vladimir Arhipov | 123rf

Wasps are frightening creatures and they can put a damper on outdoor activities. However, not all of these creatures sting and some of them are beneficial to our ecosystem. Without them acting as our natural pest control, our world would be swamped by insects. 

Still, they can cause serious injury to a person if they are threatened. Let’s learn how to identify the different types of wasps, hornets and yellow jackets to prevent any infestations or injuries.

What are the differences between wasps and bees? 

Though both bees and wasps share similar physical characteristics, they are actually quite different in shape and size. Wasps have a narrow waist that connects their thorax to their abdomen, whereas bees are rounder and their bodies are made up of only one section.

Another way to distinguish them is to see if there’s any hair on them. Bees are hairy and wasps are hairless in comparison. You can also determine the creature by observing the types of diet they consume. Wasps feed on insects while bees feed only on pollen.

If you hear a buzzing sound near a flower, chances are you’re encountering bees. Another difference to note is that honeybees die after stinging its victim but wasps can fly away after leaving painful sting behind

What do wasps look like? 

Dejchagorn Chaimee | 123rf

Wasps can grow up to three to four cm long, but their size varies from species to species. However, they do share similar characteristics like having a pair of wings, a pair of antennae and six legs. Only the female species have stingers and their stings contain venom. 

Read more: How to get rid of cockroaches in 5 steps

What are the common wasp species in Malaysia? 

Here are some of the most common types of wasp families in Malaysia. 

Asian HornetsMud Daubers
About 3cm longAbout 1cm to 2cm long
Is black and has light yellow or white stripesThe body is black in colour while the legs are covered with yellow and black stripes
Nests are made out of paper or paper-like materialsMuch thinner compared to the other types of wasps
Nests are often located in high places like trees and roofsSolitary wasps, but build nests for itself and its offspring. Nests are made out of mud and built on the ground.
Will not attack unless provokedDocile until provoked

What do wasp nests look like? 

Wasp nest on the tree.

If you spot wasps in your garden, there’s probably a nest hidden somewhere nearby. The nests are usually built in a sheltered area that’s accessible to the outdoors like the roof, the wall cavities, eaves or sheds. If you want to locate the nest, just follow the flight path of the wasps, but do be extra careful when you’re trailing their moves. 

The nests are made from tiny pieces of wood and timber, and they’re usually a light brown colour. In the early stage, the wasp nest is only about the size of a golf ball. As the number of wasps increase, the nest can grow into the size of a basketball. 

If you’re looking to get rid of them at home, it’s imperative to treat a nest before the number increases.

How to keep wasps away?

As the old adage goes “prevention is better than cure”, sometimes the best way to prevent a wasp infestation at home is to prevent them from setting roots in the first place. Here are prevention methods you can take:

  1. Remove food sources

wasp on fruit
Jaroslav Machacek | 123rf

Wasps and hornets are attracted to sweet foods or foods that contain protein like pet food and leftovers. So don’t leave sugary food and drinks lying around, and remember to close your garbage bin. The last thing you want is to leave sources of food for them. 

  1. Avoid colourful clothing

wasp on a yellow flower
Vassiliy Prikhodko | 123rf

When you’re out and about in an area that could potentially have wasps, try staying away from flowers or avoid wearing bright coloured or floral-patterned clothing. Sometimes they may mistake these colours for real flowers! 

Read more: 12 ways to remove lizards from your home permanently

  1. Keep windows and doors shut

Don’t want to invite any wasps into your home? Keep your windows and doors shut at all times. 

  1. Hang a fake nest

Wasps tend to avoid settling down in the nests of other wasps, so if you hang fake nests around your home, they will likely fly off somewhere else to build their home. 

How to get rid of wasps? 

Before you start getting all excited, it’s important to know that it can be dangerous — or even life-threatening if you’re allergic — and there’s a chance of you getting stung by wasps. But if you’re comfortable with it, read on to find out how to get rid of them. 

  1. Be prepared

As mentioned, wasps don’t usually attack unless they’re provoked. And in this case, they will definitely feel violated. So gear up by dressing in long sleeves, long pants, covered shoes, gloves and goggles.

If this makes you feel like you’re about to enter a battle, well, you probably are. Wasp attacks are no joke and you should be extra cautious just as you would be in battle.

  1. Locate the nests

Next on the list is to locate the nests. Yes, nests. You could be dealing with more than one colony. Look underneath the eaves, in the wall cavities, on trees or any undisturbed areas for signs of any nests hanging about. 

  1. Identify the species

Now it’s time to identify what kind of wasps you’re dealing with. Stand at a safe distance and take a look at the material of the nests and the colouring and size. 

Read more: 12 most effective mosquito repellent plants for your home

  1. Choose a treatment plan

Fortunately, there are a few different types of treatment plans to deter or stop wasps from making your home theirs. 

a. Nest drenching

This is perhaps one of the most effective methods you can use to wipe out the wasp colony. Do note that this is an extremely dangerous task, especially if you’re allergic to wasps. 

Stand as far as possible from the nest and start spraying it with a specially-formulated insecticide. At this point, wasps will start flying out of the nest. Try spraying as many as you can. 

Once it’s fully drenched and the wasps are all gone, knock down the nest and destroy it to prevent any wasps from inhabiting it. Remember to clean up after. 

If you can’t remove the nest, make sure to spray it every day for the next two weeks to prevent immature wasps from growing and infesting your home. 

b. Nest dusting

Compared to nest drenching, this is a less risky method of getting rid of wasps. The insecticide for nest dusting comes in a form of dust instead of liquid, as implied in its name. 

Once you’ve located the nest, quickly sprinkle the dust over the nest and its surrounding areas. Then quickly move away to prevent any wasps from stinging you. This method needs re-application and it can take weeks for the insecticide to work and kill off the colony. 

c. Perimeter Spraying

Can’t locate the nest? Try perimeter spraying to mitigate the infestation. You may use the insecticide you used for the nest drenching method and spray it in areas you see wasps flying. Unlike the previous two methods, this won’t eradicate them, but it helps to keep them away from your home. 

Do note that these insecticides are harmful to plants. If you don’t wish to destroy your garden, avoid the area or spray around the plants. 

Read more: How to get rid of mice and prevent them from coming back

d. Baiting

Wasp bait
unitysphere | 123rf

Here’s another option for you if you can’t find the nest: baiting. There are many baiting products available in the market that can lure wasps out of their nest. However, this method’s a bit tedious as compared to the rest as you need to monitor and refill the traps continuously. While this method works best at trapping wasps, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find their colony and nest. 

Seek professional help

Wasp infestations can be dangerous and if you don’t have the confidence to deal with it, then it’s better to leave it to the pest control professionals or contact the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia to remove any nests hanging around your home. 

How to treat wasp stings?

wasp stings

Wasps don’t usually attack people, but they will if they’re provoked. Unlike normal bug bites, wasp stings can be agonising. In the event of an attack, there are a few things you can do to treat and neutralise wasp stings.

  1. Remove stingers

The first thing you should always do is to remove any stingers from the site of the sting immediately. 

  1. Apply ice

To reduce the pain and swelling, apply ice to the area that you’ve been stung for about 20 minutes. The cold compresses help slow down the blood flowing to the wound. Wrap the ice in a clean towel to avoid freezing the skin. 

  1. Treat the wound

There are two ways to approach this — the natural way or the chemical method. If you decide to go natural home remedy, you can try treating it with apple cider or vinegar as it helps to neutralise the alkalinity of the stings. Just soak some cotton with apple cider or white vinegar and place it on the wound. Leave it for a few minutes to reduce inflammation. 

Alternatively, medicated skin creams like hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can be used to reduce the itch. You can also take over-the-counter antihistamine drugs if the itching becomes bothersome. 

Read more: How to get rid of ants

How do you know if you are allergic to wasp stings? 

Wasp sting. Red swollen arm closeup. Skin allergy
russian1 | 123rf

Wasp bite or sting can be dangerous if you’re allergic to it, some may even experience anaphylaxis, large local reactions to insect stings, that occurs when your body goes into shock after exposure to wasp venom. You need to seek immediate medical treatment or attention for this even if symptoms do not appear immediately. 

If you’re allergic to wasp stings, you may experience these:

  • Severe swelling
  • Rashes or hives in areas that are not affected by the sting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea 
  • A weak or racing pulse

If you have any other pest problems at home, click here to find out how to get rid of them.

Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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