6 Steps To Get Rid of Hornets | Insight Pest

6 Steps to Get Rid of Hornets

January 20, 2021

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For the most part, hornets (along with wasps and yellow jackets) focus their scavaging and predatory habits on other insects. When in close proximity to people, however, their primal fear is triggered and hornet attacks occur.

Below are six easy steps to remove hornets near your home, whether it’s only a handful of hornets or a full nest.

Hornets Nest Hanging from Garage

Photo Credit: Jena Fuller

6 Hornets’ Nest Removal Methods:

Step #1. Plan your attack.

Have everything ready and at your disposal (ladders, pruning shears, garbage bag, light source etc.).

Step #2. Plan your treatment for after sunset.

This should help you eliminate the maximum number of hornets since everyone should be home.

Step #3. Keep any light source you use away from you.

The hornets will attempt to attack it over you because they are unable to see well in the dark and will head to the light. Make sure you’re not lighting yourself up as a target. You may also choose to use something that extends your reach if you are not close to the hive. The hornets will be unable to tell where the danger is coming from.

Have a quick knockdown product approved for use on wasps and hornets that will kill almost on contact.  If you use a steamlike spray be prepared to have to break open the nest to get everyone.

Step #4. If at all possible find a thick garbage bag and bag the nest for treatment.

No one will be able to find the way out and you can treat inside the bag to get the whole hive, plus you’re ready to dispose of it once you are finished.

Step #5. Safety first.

The thicker the clothing you can wear, the better. This should provide some defense against stings. The best option would be to wear a bee suit with a vale to cover your face.  Protect your eyes and face as much as you can while still being able to perform the task at hand.

Traps can work but might not eliminate the entire hive. They may help if you are unable to locate the hive.

Dusts approved for use on wasp and hornets are excellent but take time to have an effect. If you are able, this is the safest option. Application can be tricky but if done stealthily, you can avoid conflict.  Apply the dust at night to the entrance ramp or hole.

Step #6. Be cautious, and again, if the task seems intimidating, reconsider hiring a pest professional.

If you’re unsure of how to get rid of any hornets’ nests around your home, call in professionals who have experience in removing them safely.

Removal Methods to avoid:

Do not do this during the daytime hours. You are more likely to get stung.

Don’t use gasoline. This is just plain dangerous and there are stories of fires, injuries, and property lost.


Photograph of a hornet.

Photo credit: wplynn

Hornet biology breakdown:

What does a hornets’ nest look like?

A hornets’ nest is a paper-like structure made from wood chewed by hornets. The size of a hornets’ nest can depend on the size of the colony but can be as large as a basketball and appear to be made out of a paper mache-like material.  Most nests are shaped in the form of a teardrop and contain one single entrance. Nests are predominantly aerial in nature or in very protective locations.

How do you locate a hornet nest?

Follow the flight patterns of the hornets you can identify. As you get closer to the nest it will seem like a miniature airport with flights arriving and departing.  You could also try putting out a piece of fruit, tray of sugar water, or a small piece of meat where you have noticed hornet activity.  These items during the proper time of the year (late summer to early autumn) may attract hornets and allow you to track back to the hive.

How big are hornet nests?

A hornet’s nest can be quite large. The size of their nests depends on the size of the hornet colony. If multiple generations of hornets have worked on a nest, it could grow to be a foot wide and long. It’s not uncommon to see hornets nests the size of a soccer ball or even a bit larger.

A nest typically has about 100-700 workers. Almost all will be predominantly nonbreeding females that do all the work from rearing young to foraging for food. Large nests will have multiple breeding queens (2-6).  Males eat food and chase females.

What are the different types of hornet hives?

There are two types of hornets you’re likely to come across. European hornets are the only true hornet you’ll find in the US. You’ll most likely see their nests high off the ground and tucked away. These hornets like to be concealed, constructing their nests deep in areas like tree cavities or attic rafters. 

Bald-faced hornets are also found in the US, though they’re technically classified as wasps. You’ll find their nests a bit lower to the ground, often in bushes or on tree limbs. All hornets will commonly build nests around building soffits and overhangs.

Can hornets nest in the ground?

It’s not likely to find a hornet nest in the ground. Hornets typically like to build their nests at least a few feet above ground level. If you’re experiencing stinging insects in your lawn, it’s probably wasps or yellowjackets. These insects are known to nest in ground holes and should be approached with caution.

Are hornets’ nests dangerous?

Hornets’ nests are not inherently dangerous, and neither are their inhabitants. Hornets are mostly harmless creatures if they and their nests are left alone. Unlike their yellow jacket counterparts, hornets are generally not aggressive and will not attack unless they feel threatened. Hard Money Property explains that hornets tend to build their nests away from areas with a lot of traffic and noise, which is why you’ll likely find them in trees or at high points of houses. But, if you do want to get rid of any hornets’ nests around your home, you should call in professionals who have the experience in removing them safely.

Nest Activity:

Workers are active from April to early August.  Reproductives produce from mid-July thru November.  At the end of November, the colony over-winters until spring and the process is repeated.

Nest Defenses:

Hornets and wasps have a smooth stinger (like a fencing sword) and are able to sting multiple times without any ill effects, unlike bees who have a barbed stinger (like a harpoon) and die once they sting you.  Remember that it is “all for one and one for all”.  Once disturbed all that are capable in the hive will rally to defend it with their lives.  When a hornet attempts to sting you she releases a pheromone that will tell her sisters where you are.

Hornets entering a hornet nest.

Photo credit: wplynn

If the information and tips provided helped, share with us in the comment section below. For more expert pest control tips, check out our guide.

For more information:

Controlling wasps, hornets and yellow jackets,” University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Hornet Nest Removal: How To Get Rid Of Hornets,” FightBugs.com

Wasp and bee control,” University of Minnesota Extension

Do you have a question about bugs or pest control? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know on our Facebook page, in the comment section below, or by tweeting @insightpest. You may see the Bug Doctor’s answer to your question in a future post.

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Let Insight Remove Your Hornets Nest

The Bug Doctor: Adam Villareal, owner and president of Insight Pest Solutions, entomology nerd, and family man. To help demystify the world of bugs, the Bug Doctor answers your questions during our weekly “Ask the Bug Dr.” blog feature. You can submit your bug and pest control inquiries for him on our Facebook page, by tweeting @insightpest, or commenting below.

Posted in: Ask the Bug Doctor

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