Dos & Don’ts: Paper Wasps


June 12, 2014

  • Photos courtesy of, and copyrighted by, Gene White,

    Wearing appropriate PPE — a veil and helmet, coveralls, and gloves —is imperative when dealing with wasps. (Photos courtesy of, and copyrighted by, Gene White)

    Do the applied biology and don’t let Polistines or paper wasps, Polistes spp., nest within architectural features that place inhabitants at risk of stings. Eliminate wasps through an environmentally benign process of integrated pest management (IPM).

  • Do explain to your client, paper wasps can offend (possibly sting) and reduce customer counts and related revenue (pest management services are an investment, not an expense): Customers will leave (damage to business reputation); distraught employees might result; and increased potential liability if stings result.
  • Don’t miss clues such as dead wasps and buzzing or humming sounds.
  • Do identify the wasp to species, and conduct a thorough inspection that focuses on architectural underhangs.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to increase revenue through exclusion services (build-outs, screens and doors, for example).
  • Do deploy electronic fly killers (EFKs) in structurally appropriate areas, traps at exterior appropriate areas and vacuuming with an appropriate system to reduce the presence of wasps.
  • Don’t misinterpret product label directions when conducting applications to wasp nests (destroy nests after recommended or required time intervals).
  • Do wear appropriate protective personal equipment (PPE) when conducting wasp elimination. This includes coveralls, a veil and helmet, and gloves.
  • Don’t proceed outside the IPM process, which can be defined as: inspection and investigation, identification down to species, establishing threshold levels, implementing two or more control measures (cultural, physical, mechanical, and professional product applications), and evaluation of overall effectiveness.

 [ RELATED LINK: Most Wanted: Paper Wasps ]


Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at or 515-333-8923.

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