Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to kill wasps with household products

Disclaimer: I am not an entomologist nor am I a pest control specialist.  I’m just a regular guy who decided to take care of a wasp problem on my own.  Do this at your own risk.
Wasp picture taken from Wikipedia
When I came home from the office the other day, I heard a faint buzzing above me.  As I looked up, I noticed a small colony of wasps diligently building a nest under a small section of my roof eave.  I could tell these were wasps flying overhead, since they were thinner and longer than bees.  My first thought was, “I better look up the number to call a pest control exterminator.”  Then I came to my senses and had a second thought: “How can I take care of this problem myself?”

As a homeowner, I’ve learned to try to take care of as many simple projects around the home as possible, before resorting to calling “professionals” for help.  It’s so easy just to hire someone to do work for you, but it can cost money as well.  I called a few pest control companies in my area, and received quotes of $100 to $150 for someone to come over and take care of the problem. 

Different types of wasps
I used the internet to help me determine what type of wasp we were dealing with.   I’ve always known that one of the big differences between bees and wasps is that wasps can sting several times, over and over again, while bees cannot.  I found out that I was dealing with a type of Vespid wasp, which includes paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets.  I discovered this great summary on how to tell the difference between different wasps here.
Chart taken from insect page
Paper wasps are the most common stinging pest problem at home.  They have long legs and can be aggressive stingers.  Paper wasps tend to build open multi-celled nests suspended from overhangs and roof eaves.  They live in smaller colonies, less than 100.

Yellow Jackets are bold and aggressive wasp species.  They make nests underground or in an enclosed location.  They live in large colonies of over 100 wasps.  They will mark aggressors and will pursue them if provoked.

Hornet stings are typically more painful than stings from other wasps as their venom is more potent.  They make large “football shaped” nests in trees.

Killing wasps
Now that I knew what I was dealing with, I did a quick youtube search on “how to get rid of wasp nests naturally.”  I did not like the idea of buying dangerous chemicals to spray around our home.  The first video that came up was this one.  The publisher of the video used a simple mixture of water, dishwasher soap, and peppermint oil in a spray bottle.  I decided to try the same method.

First I grabbed an empty spray bottle at home.  I filled it up about 1/3 of the way with basic dishwashing soap.  I added about 1 teaspoonful of peppermint oil (picked up at Trader Joe’s). Peppermint oil will act as a natural deterrent for wasps and will prevent future nests from being built in that area.  Then I filled the spray bottle up with hot water.  Finally, I set the nozzle to squirt a steady stream.

To keep myself protected, I put on 3 layers of pants, 2 layers of long sleeved shirts, and wore a thick jacket.  I propped a ladder up against the wall, climbed up and then started shooting the small nest and wasps guarding the nest.

The home remedy worked great!  Wasps hit by the spray were knocked down almost immediately.  The dishwasher soap rendered the wasps unable to fly.  They fell to the ground and were immobilized.  I drenched the nest with the spray, then climbed down the ladder and drenched the fallen wasps with the spray as well.  Finally I used a pole to knock the nest off the roof eave and onto the ground. 
Wasps lose
The whole process took less than 10 minutes and we just saved $100 to $150 in pest exterminator fees.

Warning: 1 percent of the population is allergic to bee and wasp stings.  In some cases, allergy to stings can be potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment at the hospital.  If you have an allergy to insect stings, do not try this at home.  Do this at your own risk.
Our roof eaves are now free of the wasp nest!

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