Now is the time to be observant about the location of developing wasp nests around the house. Social wasps including paper wasps, yellowjackets and hornets have selected their summer-long nesting sites by now and are busily enlarging nests and raising offspring to increase colony size. Left unchecked, these social wasps will produce colonies of up to several hundred individuals by the end of the summer. Our solitary wasps such as the cicada killers and mud daubers are also active now. However, as the group name implies, these wasps work alone to build and provision nests of much smaller numbers.
When wasp nests are in "high traffic" areas such as along walks or near doorways, control is justified to reduce the threat of being stung. Above ground nests on trees and houses can be treated with the "wasp and hornet" aerosol sprays that shoot the insecticide several feet. Nests in walls or in the ground are better treated with an insecticide dust such as Sevin or rotenone. Treat at night and do not plug nest openings till all activity has ceased.
This article originally appeared in the July 22, 1992 issue, p. 130.