I've got yellow jackets at my house in the Pacific Northwest. Normally I wouldn't mind terribly much, they can be aggressive but if you don't go near their hives they're fine. And if you need to get somewhere they have a hive, it's generally easy to hit it with a fair amount of poison, and that's the end of it.

However, we've got a lot of eves with peeling siding on the house we just bought, and I think they've gotten behind the siding in some places to build nests. What's the best solution for getting these guys to move on?

I've bought a few traps and they seem to be catching some, but there's still a bunch exploring around the outside of the house. Should I just use a few more traps with attractant? Is there a longer-lasting poison I could spray around the eves of the house that would get them as they come/go? Or should I bite the bullet and hire an exterminator to give the house a good spraying?

Or, since it's later in the summer should I just avoid them until they die off in the winter, then try to capture/kill the queens when they emerge next spring?

Also, can yellow jackets and paper wasps actually do lasting damage to a (wood) house?

  • Standard wasp spray has ~24 hour contact kill, in general - read the label. If you need to get in and fix the siding, nuke the ones that live there - virtually all will be gone in a day as they revisit the nest area, unless you have a HUGE nest in a cavity (dealt with one of those - thankfully just the one, but it took up most of a hollow porch post.) In that case you'll note the continued activity.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 28 '16 at 1:06
  • Get a volunteer, preferably someone you are not fond of. Have them kick the nest area. When the entire hive chases him/her down, swarms and stings them, hit them with a flame thrower. You should get most of the yellow jackets that way. Then you can go back and poison the nest in relative safety. Aug 30 '16 at 19:30

Get an exterminator. I am a strong proponent of organic landscape care - it's all we do in our company. Yellowjackets and other wasps can be terrific allies in controlling garden pests, and ordinarily we'd leave such nests alone. But there are cases where we might call in someone who does conventional treatments - and this is one. Here's why:

  1. You say they've gotten in the eaves. An exterminator's treatment will be focused in those areas. The risk of collateral damage to pollinators is low.
  2. Although nests are abandoned and workers die in areas with cold winters, they can and DO reuse nesting sites. I've seen it at my own house.
  3. Yellowjackets can chew through sheetrock to access house interiors. This, also, I have seen. The guy who came to exterminate our nest also claimed that this was why the consumer over-the-counter wasp sprays aren't good in situations where they are in the eaves: the spray will likely not reach the whole nest and the wasps will look for or make another exit (into your home, possibly) if their normal entrance is blocked.

I understand the viewpoints expressed here about not using toxic chemicals and learning to live with other life forms of this earth. In general I agree. However I look at it the way I look at antibiotics. They are way over-prescribed and should be avoided as much as possible. BUT there are certain cases in which antibiotics are the only way to prevent death or permanent injury.

  • we had wasps nesting inside the eaves. They kept coming back even after -30 degree winters. every year there were more, they would try to come in the car, then the house....an exterminator and $125 later and no more problems
    – kevinskio
    Aug 29 '16 at 14:48

I like your last answer. Just leave them alone. The worst thing you could do is hire an exterminator who will kill everything to include beneficial insects, bacteria, fungi that keep your little environment in 'control'. We are fast losing our honey bees and we will be left with wasps, flies for pollination. Learning to live with other life forms is far more important than trying to control stuff we are unable to control without causing even more problems! Is anyone in your family allergic to wasp stings? I'd feel better if you sent a picture of your wasps, nest. I'd hate to make a mistake and kill mason bees or something similar. I've also done the'kill wasp nest duty'. A few times and I feel so guilty. Not a pretty experience.

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