The Yellow Jacket Nest:
Information, How To Remove,
And How To Deter Wasps

Finding a wasp nest (or yellow jacket nest), such as the nest of the German Wasp Vespula germanica, or the common wasp, Vespula vulgaris), is a concern for many.

This page is intended to provide free advice and information about how wasps build their nests, when and how to remove them if necessary, and better still, how to prevent wasps building nests in inconvenient places.

Below, there are also links to advice about treating yellow jacket stings, and tips to prevent stinging incidents, as well as the importance of wasp pollination.


Background Information About The Wasp Nest
Yellow jacket nests are papery in appearance, and are actually amazing structures.

They are made from small amounts of leaf and rotten wood which are chewed by wasps, and used to construct a nest, often ball shaped, and increasing in size as time progresses (from Spring through Summer).

Photographs:  Kelly Pinnick

This is important to know.  I was once asked about whether wasps could be 'smoked out' of the inside of a chimney breast by lighting a fire.  Problem is, the wasp nest is paper and could catch fire.  Wasp colonies will actually die out before winter anyway.  Once the wasp nest has been deserted, this might be a time to dislodge the nest from the chimney and dispose of it.

Anyway, eventually, the nest will be about the size of a football (soccer ball), and the colour will tend to be a shade of dull brown, grey or a straw-like shade. This is the case for social wasps, which live in large (although short-lived) colonies.

You will know if you have social wasps, as there will be many leaving and arriving at the nest site.

Solitary wasp nests, are significantly smaller, founded by one single queen wasp, and unless you have an allergy or a particular reason for being concerned about wasps, a solitary wasp nest should not really need to be removed – again they only last a season in any case. You can then seek to prevent further nests being built in future, as described below.

Wasp / Yellow Jackets In The Garden

Yellow jackets are excellent garden helpers in the Spring, when they assist with aphid control and with pollination. If you would prefer to leave them alone, you can deter them from bothering you – see the notes below.

How To Remove A Wasp / Yellow Jacket Nest

If you have a hornet nest, or yellow jacket nest belonging to social wasps, you should not attempt to remove the nest yourself.

If you must remove the nest, you will unfortunately need to call in pest control. When removing the nest, they will usually destroy the wasps, but should leave at least a part of the nest behind in order to deter other wasps from building a nest in the site.

Prevent Wasps / Yellow Jackets Nesting In Your Garden

Try a Waspinator - they generally get great reviews if used properly, and can be purchased from


But I would not recommend the paper versions available - they are slightly cheaper, but they are not very durable.  you may find you have to replace it pretty quickly.

Waspinators cannot completely eliminate the risk of stings, but neither can destroying yellow jacket nests – you may simply find that other wasps visit from other nests in the area.  However, by using a Waspinator, and following the tips for preventing yellow jacket stings on this page about wasp sting treatment, first aid and prevention, you will greatly reduce the risk.

Waspinators are designed to work by mimicking a yellow jacket nest. Wasps are very territorial, and will seek to avoid territories of other wasps. They are very busy creatures, and have little time for fighting over nest sites, and so will usually steer clear of areas they believe to be populated by other wasps.

Waspinators are non-messy, use no chemicals (less risk of contact with children, pets, ponds, environmentally sensitive areas), prevent repeat call outs of pest control agencies, and frankly, for me they are an obvious, very good value investment.

To put it this way - you could spend your cash on chemicals and pest control, or you could use it to buy a pack of Waspinators that should last for quite some time. No wasps are killed, so they can go about their business pollinating and helping with aphid control elsewhere.

You can also take a Waspinator on picnics. Wasps/ Yellow jackets have large foraging areas, so you may want to deter them from your eating areas.

There are also many effective repellents available:

Please also remember that wasps are pollinators too, and they are are highly effective at natural pest control.  You can read more about wasp pollination here.

Further information about wasp nests identification and construction.
cluding a short video.

Wasp Sting Treatment, First Aid And Prevention
Find out how to treat yellow jacket stings, and how to prevent them in the first place.

Wasp Life Cycle Learn about the life cycle of yellow jackets.

Wasp Pollination - Do wasps pollinate?  Yes, they do!

Bee Stings There is more useful information in this related section about bee stings.

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Deter wasps from making a nest with a WASPINATOR.

Waspinators can be purchased from

Waspinators mimic wasp nests, discouraging actual wasps from making a nest (they're very territorial).

Not many people like wasps, but they have an important role in the ecosystem!

Read more

Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens

"Few insects are more important than bees, wasps, and ants. They maintain the garden’s biological balance, fertilize vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and recycle nutrients within the soil. It’s no exaggeration to say that a garden can’t be understood without an understanding of its insects."

Remove wasps without killing them