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Wasps & Hornets Fact Sheet

Pest biology

Although similar in size to honey bees, wasps are distinctive by their bright yellow and black banding; bees are more hairy and duller in appearance. Wasps will build a new nest each year and depending on weather, the nest can be found in late spring/ early summer. By their peak around the end of July, there are many thousands in a nest. The major difference between wasps and hornets is size and colour. Hornets are much larger and have a more brown colouration. Hornets are more of a woodland insect, whereas wasps are found in both woodland and in urban areas. Bees are beneficial to humans because they pollinate plants, whereas wasps and hornets help out by eating other insects such as caterpillars and flies.

Please Note

Bees are an important contributor to the pollination of flowers and crops, and there are restrictions on what can be done to treat bees that are inconveniently located or present a health risk to members of the public.

Terminix has partnered up with Bee Watch to remove swarms, and other regional specialists to remove physical nests where required.

Problems they cause

Wasps are serious pests and are known to sting when disturbed or trapped, which for people who are allergic to stings can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Wasp venom contains a cocktail of toxins, some of which can cause Kounis syndrome, where the blood vessels are constricted leading to a heart attack. Stings in the throat when picnicking or dining outside can lead to asphyxiation.

Wasps release an alarm pheromone when stinging you, so if you are near the nest, swarms of wasps will react to the pheromone and can also attack you. Hornets are less likely to sting you, but if they do then it’s a more serious sting due to their size.

Commercial control methods

We will apply an insecticidal spray/dust directly to the nest or nest entrance. The insect will collect the insecticide on their body and transfer to the inside of the nest and feed the young. Over a period of 24hrs most adults are killed and the whole nest is dead within approximately 48hrs. Generally the nest is not removed but remains redundant as it will not be reused the following year. Where possible our technicians will treat wasp nests from the ground, using extendable poles that enable them to deploy the insecticide into the nest. Working at height may need the use of mobile access equipment to ensure that we can safely treat the nest.

Traps can be used to capture foraging wasps. It is important to ensure the design of traps used does not allow any wasps to escape, otherwise the wasp problem in an area can actually be exacerbated by traps (as scouting wasps bring more of their colonies back to the food source).

What you can do to help

  • Do not leave sweet food sources out
  • Do not approach a wasp nest without protective clothing
  • Call a pest technician immediately if you find a nest


European Hornet