How to Get Rid of Hornets: Comprehensive Guide

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Hornets are not only bothersome, but they can also be dangerous to those who are allergic to their stings. It’s essential to take the proper precautions when dealing with these pests. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what attracts ants, as these insects may be present around hornet nests.

Identifying Hornets

Hornets belong to the Vespidae family and are considered social wasps. The two most common types of hornets in the United States are the European hornet (Vespa crabro) and the bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), which is actually a type of yellowjacket. To effectively deal with hornets, it’s crucial to understand their key characteristics and behavior.

European Hornet

The European hornet is the largest wasp species found in North America, measuring approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in length. Here are some identifying features:

  • Yellow and brown or black stripes on the abdomen
  • Large, reddish-brown head
  • Two pairs of wings, with the front wings being larger than the rear ones
  • Sturdy and robust body

European hornets are typically more aggressive than other wasp species, making them a more significant concern when found near human dwellings.

Bald-Faced Hornet

The bald-faced hornet is not a true hornet but a type of yellowjacket. They are smaller than European hornets, measuring around 0.5 to 0.75 inches in length. Identifying features include:

  • Black and white coloration, with a primarily black body and white markings on the face, thorax, and abdomen
  • Two pairs of wings, with the front wings being larger than the rear ones
  • A characteristic “wasp waist” separating the thorax and abdomen

Bald-faced hornets are known for their aerial agility and are less aggressive than European hornets. However, they can still be a threat to humans, especially if their nest is disturbed.

Hornet Nests

Hornet nests are another important aspect to consider when identifying these insects. European hornets often build their nests in hollow trees, attics, or wall cavities. Their nests resemble a grayish-brown, papery structure that can be quite large, accommodating up to 700 workers.

Bald-faced hornets, on the other hand, construct their nests in trees, bushes, or under eaves. Their nests have a characteristic teardrop shape and are made of a gray paper-like material. A bald-faced hornet nest can house up to 400 workers.

Understanding the differences between various hornet species is essential when planning an effective removal strategy.

What Do Hornets Eat: Understanding Hornet Diets

Hornets, like other wasps, are natural predators of various insect species and can play an essential role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Understanding their diet can help you appreciate their role in nature and even use their presence to your advantage by controlling other pests in your garden. Here’s a closer look at what hornets eat:


Hornets primarily feed on a wide range of insects, including flies, caterpillars, spiders, and even other wasps. They are particularly beneficial in controlling pest populations, as they can help reduce the number of insects that damage plants in your garden. For example, hornets prey on aphids, which are common pests for gardeners.

Sugary Substances

Adult hornets also consume sugary substances as a source of energy. They are attracted to flower nectar, tree sap, and fruit juices. Hornets may also be drawn to human-made sugar sources, such as soda, candy, or other sugary foods left out in the open.

Protein for Larvae

Hornets provide protein-rich food for their larvae, which they obtain by capturing and chewing insects into a paste-like substance. The adult hornets then feed this protein-rich mixture to the developing larvae in the nest. In return, the larvae produce a sugary secretion that adult hornets consume for energy.

Understanding a hornet’s diet can help you take preventive measures to avoid attracting them to your home. Ensure that you keep sugary substances sealed and away from outdoor areas and maintain a clean environment to minimize the presence of insects that hornets prey on. By doing so, you can reduce the likelihood of hornets establishing a nest on your property while still benefiting from their natural pest control abilities.

Top Tips for Getting Rid of Hornets

Successfully removing hornets from your property requires a combination of proper planning, effective techniques, and safety measures. Here are some detailed tips to help you tackle hornet infestations more effectively. (Be sure to follow the law)

1. Evaluate the Situation

Before attempting any removal methods, assess the hornet nest’s size, location, and the species you’re dealing with. Consider whether it’s necessary to remove the nest – if it’s far away from your living spaces and not causing a threat, it might be best to leave it alone. Hornets are natural predators for many garden pests, so they can be beneficial in some cases.

2. Choose the Right Time

Timing is crucial when dealing with hornets. These insects are less active during the early morning or late evening hours, making it the best time to approach the nest. Cooler temperatures also slow down their movements, so you might have better success on a chilly day.

3. Prepare Protective Gear

Always prioritize your safety when handling hornets. Wear thick gloves, long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to protect your skin. A beekeeper’s hat or hood can shield your head and neck. Additionally, consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes from any potential stings or chemical exposure.

4. Use the Right Tools

Selecting the appropriate tools and insecticides is essential for successful hornet removal. Choose a wasp and hornet insecticide spray with a long-range nozzle, allowing you to apply the product from a safe distance. Alternatively, you can use a pesticide dust formulated for wasps and hornets, which is applied using a duster.

5. Apply Insecticide or Dust

Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying insecticides or dust. Spray or dust the nest entrance and the surrounding area, ensuring you target as many hornets as possible. Be prepared to retreat quickly in case the hornets become agitated.

6. Monitor the Nest

After applying the insecticide or dust, monitor the nest from a safe distance for at least 24 hours. You should notice a significant decrease in hornet activity. If hornets are still present after this period, consider reapplying the insecticide or contacting a professional pest control service.

7. Remove and Dispose of the Nest

Once you’re sure that all hornets are dead, carefully remove the nest using a long-handled tool, such as a shovel or rake. Place the nest in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it according to local regulations.

8. Prevent Future Infestations

To keep hornets from returning, seal any openings or cracks in your home’s exterior and remove potential food sources, such as unsecured trash cans or open compost piles. Regularly inspect your property for signs of new nests and use natural hornet repellents to deter these insects from settling near your home.

By following these detailed tips, you can successfully remove hornets from your property while minimizing the risk to yourself and your environment.

Recipes for Natural Hornet Repellents

  1. Soapy water: Mix a few tablespoons of dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the hornets and their nest.
  2. Peppermint oil spray: Mix 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray around potential nesting sites.
  3. Lemon eucalyptus oil: Combine equal parts lemon eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle. Apply the solution to areas where hornets are likely to build nests.
  4. Clove, geranium, and lemongrass oil blend: Combine 5 drops each of clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture around your home’s exterior and other potential nesting sites.
  5. Vinegar trap: Create a simple vinegar trap by filling a jar halfway with apple cider vinegar and adding a few drops of dish soap. Place the jar near the hornet nest to attract and trap the hornets.
  6. Cucumber peels: Scatter cucumber peels around your garden or near potential nesting sites. The chemical compounds in cucumber peels are a natural repellent for hornets.


Getting rid of hornets can be a challenging and potentially dangerous task. By following the tips and recipes provided in this guide, you can effectively remove hornets from your property while keeping yourself safe. Remember, if you’re unsure or allergic to stings, it’s always best to call a professional.

(Video) How To


Are hornets aggressive to humans?

Hornets can be aggressive if they feel threatened, especially if their nest is disturbed. However, they are generally not aggressive when they are away from their nest, foraging for food. Some species, like the European hornet, are known to be more aggressive than others.

How long do hornets live?

The lifespan of a hornet varies depending on the role it plays in the colony. Worker hornets usually live for a few weeks to a few months, while queens can live for up to a year. Males, or drones, have the shortest lifespan, living only long enough to mate with a queen.

What kills wasps and hornets instantly?

Commercial wasp and hornet insecticide sprays are designed to kill these insects almost instantly upon contact. Look for a spray specifically formulated for wasps and hornets, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. Be sure to wear protective gear and exercise caution when using insecticides to avoid harm to yourself and the environment.

What time of day should you spray a hornets nest?

The best time to spray a hornets nest is during the early morning or late evening hours when the hornets are less active and more likely to be inside the nest. Cooler temperatures can also slow down the insects, making it easier to approach and treat the nest. Always use caution and wear appropriate protective gear when spraying a hornets nest to minimize the risk of stings.

What kills hornets in the ground?

If hornets have built a nest in the ground, you can use a wasp and hornet insecticide spray or dust specifically designed for ground-nesting hornets. Apply the insecticide according to the manufacturer’s instructions, targeting the nest entrance during early morning or late evening hours when the hornets are less active. Be sure to wear protective gear and exercise caution when treating a ground nest.

For more information on dealing with pests, check out these helpful resources:

By following these resources and tips, you can maintain a safe, clean, and pest-free environment around your home. Remember, prevention is always better than dealing with an infestation, so regularly inspect your property and take proactive measures to keep pests away.

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