Wasp Nests - Identification And What To Do About Them

Wasp nests are not usually welcomed by the people, but it has to be said that wasps are pollinators (whose role is probably not fully understood), and can help keep down populations of crop eating ‘pests’.  They are largely beneficial in the garden, although you may think otherwise if you have lots of them eating the ripe plums from your plum tree.

Here, I will provide information about how to deter wasps from building a nest where they are not wanted, but first of all, how do you know whether you already have a wasp nest?

Wasp Nest Identification

Of those wasps which build their own nests, and depending on the species in the country you are in, and whether they are social or solitary wasp, wasp nests can vary in size, construction material and appearance, but are typically greyish or straw coloured in appearance.

I’d like to thank Kelly Pinnick for permission to use the following photographs.

This nest was inside a shrub, and the picture was taken in the UK.  As you can see, the nest has a papery appearance, as if there are leaves of grey paper stuck together in a kind of spherical ball shape.  These wasps make their nests from wood shavings (some solitary wasps make their nests from other materials, such as mud for example).  

These photographs show a little of the inside of a wasp nest. 

As you can see, the inside construction resembles honey combs.  These are the cells where wasp larvae are reared.  Nests are only used once, and wasp colonies only last a season – a little like bumblebees, because only the queens survive to establish future colonies.

  Wasp Nest Construction

Here is an excellent short video showing wasps building a nest:

Signs Of Wasp Activity

You may see tell tale signs of wasp activity in the form of tiny scratches on wooden fences and garden furniture as below.

Seeing these markings could indicate there is or has been a wasp nest nearby.

Where Do Wasps Build Their Nests?

Wasps commonly build their nests in trees, shrubs, hedgerows, and in my experience, fruit bushes such as raspberries,

where they may provide excellent pest control as well as a pollination service (especially for autumn raspberries), but may cause concern in case of stings.

However, they may select other places….

Wasp Nest In Shed Or Garage

Nests are commonly found in sheds and garages, and this photograph below provides a clear image of a nice smooth looking wasp nest in its entirety, that was found in a shed.

(However, if you see a small clay shape, and just one wasp going in and out of the shed, you probably have a solitary wasp, in which case, you might as well leave the wasp alone.  They are thought to be far less likely to sting than social wasps).


Wasp Nests In Chimneys

Another favourite place is the chimney – my sister had such a scenario.  Take into account that the nest was basically paper, and could be a potential fire hazard.  If you have such a scenario, I recommend you will get professional help to have the nest removed.

Personally I would then install a Waspinator. 

I can’t recommend these enough.  More  about Waspinators and why they work in a moment. 


Wasp Nest In The Compost Heap

One year, we had a nest in our compost heap.  At that time, the composter was made of plastic, and close to the back door of the house.  There were wasps going in and out all the time.  I am especially tolerant, however, and didn’t worry about the nest.  I simply stopped using the composter for some months.  I was never stung, nor was my husband, but not everyone may be so lucky.  I find I am able to keep calm around wasps, and believe this is part of the solution, but don’t take my word for it!


Wasp Nests In The Loft Or Attic

Another common place to see them, and sometimes an occasional hibernating queen or two.  If you find this intolerable, you will have to call for professional help.  At the very least, I would remove any disused nest at the end of the season, again to ensure there are no fire hazards.  If you are going to do it yourself, wear protective gloves and clothing to ensure you are not caught out by any left behind wasps.  After that, install a Waspinator

We have had hibernating wasp queens in the attic several times, but I always find they leave without a problem in the spring. As yet, we have never had a nest in the attic, despite wasps hibernating there.


The Eaves Of A House Or Building

Another favourite.  If the nest appears on a school, the wasp colony may well be finished and gone by the time children return from the summer vacation period.   An empty nest may then provide an interesting talking and study opportunity.  Seek assistance as appropriate.


How To Remove A Wasp Nest

Personally, I am able to tolerate wasps anyway, but if you really are unable to, I recommend you should seek help if you urgently need to move a nest.

THEN, I recommend you install Waspinator (image right).  A Waspinator looks like a wasp nest, thus deterring wasps from building a nest nearby, because wasps are territorial.  You could have a go at making one, but on the other hand, they are not too expensive and should last some time.  You can also use them to take with you on picnics.

You can get a Waspinator from:


or from


Read about the lifecycle of wasps.

Read about hornets.


.......are unsung heroes of our ecosystem, pollinating our food (and the food of many of our farm animals) and many of the trees that enable us to breathe.

They therefore provide food for birds and mammals, all of which play a role in the food chain, supporting the web of life on earth.

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Waspinators can be purchased from

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