Sorry little dudes

Paper Wasps Closeup

I don’t know why August (broken glass, water damage) has featured a bunch of new problems at our Casa. Guess, it just worked out that way. I promise Nate and I are so elated with our fence install that none of these other issue have broken our smile. I swear.

The Winged Problem

Paper wasps

A couple months ago, we started seeing yellow and black winged insects in the backyard. They weren’t bothering us, so we left them alone. We try and practice live and let live at our house. (Okay except for flies which Nate and the cats expertly kill on sight.)

Paper Wasps

But then they started building a nest in the fascia of our shed …. and THEN Nate got stung on the ear. They were no longer our friendly neighbors.

Paper Wasps

The little guys were paper wasps. Not as aggressive as yellow jackets or hornets, but will attack if they feel you are threatening their hive.

And that’s where lies the problem.

There was not one, but two nest on our roof line. One is very close to the shallow end of the pool and we would be mortified if a guest got stung.

We asked friends, neighbors and family what to do. Most said to spray them, but we wanted that to be the last resort.

Trap them

Wasp trap

What was the most safest way to kill the wasps?

Our local home improvement store carries an environmentally safe trap called the WHY Reusable Wasp Trap. The trap works without pesticides. Instead the wasps are lured in with attractant and then can’t get out. Plus, it can be used from Spring through Fall in California.

Paper wasps

Through their handy website, I also learned our invaders were European Paper Wasps. They have a “tendency to nest within voids and other manmade structures…increasing the chances of accidentally disturbing a hidden nest.” Which was exactly what they were doing in our backyard.

So we hooked up the trap and checked it daily. We even moved it to a new location, but after two weeks we had only caught one wasp. We were so disappointed. We had high hopes it would work out for us.

Other alternatives


Since the WHY trap didn’t work, we researched other options.

You can make your own trap out of a plastic bottle, but this was too similar to the WHY trap for us to try out.

We were told you can smoke the wasps out, but that seemed dangerous especially after finding stories of accidental fires started doing this.

You can even buy this fake wasp nest called the Waspinator, but since our wasps had already set up home it didn’t seem that much of a deterrent. I think I would try this in the Spring when the queen is looking to set up shop.

Use the spray

Wasp Spray

In the end, the popular vote won. We would use the spray to kill them, but with every precaution.

The directions stated to spray in the early morning or at dusk when the wasps are less active. Even though these guys are not aggressive, there is the chance they will try to sting you.

Suited up and ready to spray

Early Saturday morning, I suited up. I always enjoy breaking out my coveralls and this was the perfect reason. I wasn’t going to take a chance of being stung so I had two layers on plus rubber bands around my sleeves and pant legs.

Getting in position to spray

I also strapped on a jacket, gloves, sunglasses and a painters mask. I didn’t have an inch of skin exposed.

Spraying the wasps

The wasp spray is actually a foam so make sure to shake the can well before using. I sprayed the solution up between the wood panels directly into the nest and along the opening. As the foam dried up, I sprayed more and repeated this a few times.

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At first nothing happened. Then the wasps started falling. As they hit the pavement, I squashed them with my sneaker to give them a quick death.

Loki watching

Loki watched the whole ordeal from a safe spot on our air conditioning unit. He eventually went inside with his sister so they didn’t try to eat any of the dead wasps.

We let the foam work for the remainder of the day before we cleaned up and washed down the area.

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All in all, I killed about 50 wasps between the two nests. I haven’t seen a wasp in the backyard since and that was 5 days ago.

After spraying

I know this is a morbid topic of discussion, but it had to be done.

I am glad I undertook it myself instead of hiring an exterminator. If these little dudes had to die at least it was by my hand.

I don’t mean to sound like a bad-ass, it’s just the honest truth. Killing the wasps was a horrible, but responsible decision for the house.

Next Spring, if we see the yellow and black insects flying around we will try one of the other alternatives. Perhaps the Waspinator to try to avoid using the pesticide again. But for the safety of us and our guests, we will do what we have to do.


  1. Dave says

    I stumbled across this while researching my own wasps. I battle this same species of wasps every summer. I destroy probably 200 nests every season around our ranch varying from tiny (5 or so wasps) to large (50+) and here are the mistakes you made that you should help guide you next time. First, kill at night. the wasps return to their nests at night and most of them are fertile females so if you don’t get them all they will start a new nest the next day. Second, Remove and destroy the nest. I didn’t see any evidence you did this in the pictures and given the location you may not have been able to get to it easily but the pupae are protected inside the nest and will emerge after the rest are dead and start over. Third, wash the area. spraying the location after you remove the nest with the hose will wash away Pheromone trackers and discourage survivors from reestablishing a new nest in the same spot (which location seemed to be your primary concern). Finally, (optionally) you can use spray on insulating foam to fill the areas to prevent future nests. this is especially important and helpful when they get into the kids swing set/jungle gym. unless of course the area has to be open like my covered rain gutters.. they love those rain gutters. Also unless you are allergic you can skip the funny outfit. they aren’t very aggressive especially at night only times I’ve been stung is when I was lingering near a nest I didn’t know was there. I usually battle them in shorts and my only precaution is not to spray into the wind. Preventative spray is your only method, traps are only to reduce outdoor harassment around tables and food but wont stop it so essentially are worthless.

    • says

      Hi Dave – Thanks so much for taking the time to write me. We’ve seen more wasps circling this summer, but haven’t found the nest yet. I will definitely use your points next time we have to spray. I like the idea of using insulating foam to seal off the area as well.


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