The Lifecycle of Wasps: Understanding Your Springtime Foes

Emergence of the Queen

  • Hibernation Ends: Wasp queens wake from hibernation as temperatures rise.
  • Nest Site Selection: They search for protected sites to build new nests.

Building the Nest

  • Initial Construction: The queen constructs a small nest from wood pulp.
  • Egg Laying: She lays her first batch of eggs in this nascent nest.

Expansion of the Colony

  • Worker Wasps: The first batch of eggs develops into workers who take over nest expansion and foraging.
  • Rapid Growth: The colony size can swell to thousands by the end of summer.

Late Summer and Autumn

  • Next Generation: New queens and males are produced. After mating, males die, and queens hibernate.
  • Colony Decline: The old queen and workers eventually die, and the nest is abandoned.

Importance of Understanding This Cycle

  • Preventative Measures: Early spring is crucial for taking actions to prevent nest establishment.
  • Proactive Inspections: Seal potential entry points and remove old nests to deter queens.

Identifying Common Wasp Species

Yellow Jacket (Vespula spp. and Dolichovespula spp.)

  • Distinctive Features: Yellow jackets are easily recognizable by their bright yellow and black striped bodies. They have a slender waist and measure approximately 10 to 16 mm in length.
  • Habitat Preferences: These wasps often build their nests underground, in abandoned rodent burrows, or in sheltered areas like eaves and attics. Yellow jackets are attracted to human food, making them common unwelcome guests at outdoor activities.

Paper Wasp (Polistes spp.)

  • Distinctive Features: Paper wasps have a slender body with a narrow waist, long legs, and a reddish-brown to dark coloration with yellow markings. They range from 15 to 20 mm in length.
  • Habitat Preferences: Paper wasps construct their distinctive umbrella-shaped nests from chewed wood pulp and saliva, often found hanging from tree branches, porch ceilings, and the eaves of buildings. They prefer locations that are sheltered from elements.

Hornet (Vespa spp. and Dolichovespula spp.)

  • Distinctive Features: Hornets are larger than most wasps, with some species measuring up to 25 mm in length. They have a robust body with a black and white or brownish-red coloration.
  • Habitat Preferences: Hornets build large, enclosed paper nests in trees, shrubs, and occasionally on buildings. They are more aggressive than other wasp species when their nest is threatened.

Mud Dauber (Sceliphron caementarium and others)

  • Distinctive Features: Mud daubers are long, slender wasps with a narrow waist, measuring 20 to 25 mm in length. They are usually black or metallic blue in color, often with yellow markings.
  • Habitat Preferences: Mud daubers construct their tube-shaped nests from mud on vertical surfaces sheltered from rain, such as walls, cliff faces, bridges, and inside buildings.

Identifying Nests

  • Yellow Jacket Nests: Typically found underground or in dark, enclosed areas. The nests have a paper-like appearance and can grow quite large by the end of summer.
  • Paper Wasp Nests: Recognizable by their open, honeycomb structure. Nests are smaller than yellow jacket nests and usually exposed.
  • Hornet Nests: Large, enclosed, football-shaped nests made of a paper-like substance. Found in trees, bushes, or on buildings.
  • Mud Dauber Nests: Long, cylindrical mud tubes. Often found in clusters in sheltered areas.

Precautions Before Professional Help Arrives: Avoiding Wasp Stings

Minimize Attraction

  • Avoid Sweet Scents: Wasps are attracted to sweet smells. Avoid wearing perfumes, scented lotions, or brightly colored clothing which might attract wasps.
  • Cover Food and Drinks: When outdoors, keep food and drinks covered, especially during picnics or outdoor meals.

Maintain Distance

  • Keep Away from Nests: Identify the location of the wasp nest from a safe distance and ensure that you, your family, and pets avoid its vicinity.
  • No Sudden Movements: If a wasp approaches, remain calm and still. Sudden movements can provoke the wasp into stinging.

Educate Your Household

  • Inform Family Members: Make sure all members of your household are aware of the wasp situation and know to keep a safe distance from the identified nest area.
  • Supervise Children and Pets: Children and pets may inadvertently disturb a wasp nest. Supervise their outdoor activities to prevent any potential encounters.

Seal Entry Points Temporarily

  • Close Windows and Doors: If the nest is near your home, keep windows and doors closed to prevent wasps from entering.
  • Repair Screens: Check window and door screens for holes or tears and repair them temporarily to block wasps’ entry into the house.

Preparing for the Professional’s Arrival

  • Access Point: Ensure there’s a clear path to the nest for the pest control professional. If possible, mark the nest’s location from a safe distance.
  • Safety Briefing: Provide the pest control service with any relevant information about the wasps’ behavior or specific areas of activity around your home.

Stay Informed

  • Learn About Wasps: Understanding wasp behavior can help in avoiding stings. For instance, wasps can become more aggressive if they feel their nest is threatened.

Prevention and Early Detection: Keeping Wasps at Bay


  • Remove Food Sources: Keep outdoor eating areas clean. Ensure garbage bins have tightly fitted lids to prevent wasps from foraging for food.
  • Limit Flowering Plants Near Entryways: While flowering plants are attractive, they can also lure wasps. Place them strategically away from doors and windows.
  • Water Sources: Eliminate standing water around your property to remove potential wasp drinking spots.
  • Seal Cracks and Crevices: Regularly inspect the exterior of your building for openings where wasps could build nests and seal them appropriately.

Early Detection

  • Regular Inspections: Early spring is the best time to inspect your property for signs of nest building, especially in sheltered areas such as eaves, attics, and under decks.
  • Monitor Wasp Activity: Noticing an unusual number of wasps around your property could indicate a nearby nest.
  • Professional Assessments: Consider having a professional pest control service conduct an annual inspection, especially if your area is prone to wasp infestations.

Merida Pest Control’s Wasp Removal Techniques

  • Nest Treatment and Removal: Applying professional-grade insecticides to eliminate wasps and carefully removing the nest to prevent reinfestation.
  • Preventive Measures: Providing recommendations and services to deter future wasp activity around your property.
  • Follow-up Services: Ensuring complete removal and offering additional treatments if necessary.

Our approach prioritizes the safety of your household and the environment, using methods that target wasps without unnecessary harm to other wildlife.

For more information on how we can help you manage wasp issues or to book a service, visit our website at Merida Pest Control.