How to Identify Wasp Nests
Wasps are broadly classified into two groups: social wasps and solitary wasps. While most solitary wasps build their nests below ground, most social wasps build nests above ground. Above ground nests are built in a sheltered, hidden location such as dense bushes or trees; wall voids; attics; or under the eaves of a structure. Underground nests are built under rocks; fallen logs; concrete or asphalt slabs such as patios; driveways; or sidewalks. With the exception of yellow jacket nests, below ground nests are loosely constructed and non-descript. Above ground nests are made from paper-like material or mud.
Below ground nests usually are first observed when a wasp or wasps are seen coming and going through a hole in the ground. Above ground nests are first observed when wasps are seen flying in and out of a tree or shrub, or a small gap, crack, crevice or sheltered portion of a building. Hornet nests are built above ground in dense trees or bushes where they construct a ball-shaped nest from gray-colored paper. Paper wasp nests are commonly found under building overhangs and decks; behind shutters and inside gas grills; children’s play sets; mailboxes; and and light fixtures. Their nests aren't very large and can be built in about any crack, gap or sheltered place. Mud Daubers build their mud nests in protected places like storage buildings, attics and under eaves and porch ceilings. Yellow jackets build nests that are paper-like, whether they are above or underground.
Dangers Associated with Removing Nests
Wasps prey on many insects that are pests for garden and landscape plants, so they can be very beneficial insects. Therefore, nests should only be eliminated if wasps are in an area where they pose a threat to people or pets. The obvious hazards caused by wasps are stings and the potential for anaphylactic shock. In addition, using a ladder for nest removal could result in a fall. If using do-it-yourself tactics, always attempt nest removal after dark and be sure to have a pre-planned escape route if you need to retreat from angry wasps. For wasp management, the best thing to do is contact your pest management professional for their advice, recommendations and control techniques.