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paper wasps in yard


Please help me know what to do about this problem. My back lawn in the SF East Bay Area is FILLED with what I have identified (thanks to this website) as European Paper Wasps. The one I caught to do the identification had a very small spider/mite type creature in its mouth. It kept it in its mouth until it stopped flying, and then shuffled it around in its mouth. Finally it spit out some unidentifiable parts, and worked on cleaning its own legs. The wasp is sensitive to my movements and responsive. Very interesting.

These wasps hover above and land in the lawn mostly, sometimes landing on trees or ivy. I cannot locate a nest. (we do have a blue mud dauber nest at our front porch) I have been ignoring the wasps as much as possible, and haven't been stung, but there are more and more every day. It is somewhat terrifying now, like walking through a light swarm. There are so many now, I don't feel safe cleaning up dog poo or watering my plants except at night.

Everywhere I read or ask, I seem to get ignorant information--I tried a can of spray poison today with little success. I would need dozens of cans to kill all these wasps--and I would rather not kill them or use chemicals. Will someone knowledgeable please help? Can I get them to leave, or is it hopeless without chemicals. What do you recommend?

With thanks, Ann

wherz the nests
These wasps have orange antennae, yellow-orange legs except black near the body, and the same black & yellow design as the pictures here. (no camera at the moment) Is there anything else they could be besides EPW?

I'm thinking the nests might be at the yard of the house behind us and will have to go talk to those neighbors. They have very little yard and much wooden deck, so maybe they are coming here to feed and living there. The one we released at dusk after identifying seemed to fly that direction. Our yard was sprayed for fleas twice when we moved in last September, which should have been pyrethroids, right? I cannot find a nest around our house, fences, or trees or at the neighbors on either side, but our grass is full of the wasps. Thankfully only during the bright sunny times.

Thanks for your help! Ann

European paper wasps tend to nest in very tight places, such as the inside of birdhouses, discarded boxes, under the water meter cover, and similar situations. I have found other types of paper wasps nesting in hollow railing supports, even inside an old, unused water spigot! Paper wasp nests are not very big, so you have to think small as far as nesting sites. Good luck.

Assuming they are indeed EPW,
Assuming they are indeed EPW, I advocate killing as many as possible. They are invasive and a nuisance. Like the other poster mentioned, look in enclosed places, especially under the eaves and shutters and around the railing of any decks/porches. Any bare wood is a nice place for them as well since that is where they would get their nesting material.

I'm not sure what you have out there in terms of pest control company options, but a broadcast spray of a pyrethroid would keep them from nesting for a number of weeks. If you do find nests and spray them with something persistent, I would recommend leaving the nests up until the end of the season as other wasps will come steal the paper. Keep in mind that oil-based sprays will stain your siding and often stink.

The best way to kill wasps is to find the nest and spray them at dusk while all the wasps are at rest. It is much safer that way. If you can't find a nest, it is pretty much impossible to kill them all, by spraying them one at a time. Try to see where the wasps have their nest by following them. They like to build their nests in enclosed areas, such as a pipe, a birdhouse, or a shed. I hope this helps!

Be sure to discard the nest after spraying so the larva don't hatch later!

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