Recognizing, Preventing and Controlling Paper Wasps in Des Moines

paper wasp des moines iowa

Now that the weather is warmer, many Des Moines, Iowa yards have been invaded by wasps. One of the most painful wasp stings known is the sting from a paper wasp. Even worse, these stings can cause severe reactions to people who have allergic reactions to the wasp venom. If you’re worried about being attacked, here’s what you should know about recognizing, preventing and controlling Des Moines paper wasps.

Physical Characteristics

A few of the general physical traits of the paper wasp include:

  • A slim body that’s usually dark brown or black with yellow markings
  • Two pairs of black wings
  • A length that’s from 1.9 to 3.2 cm long
  • Long legs that hang underneath their body when they fly

Behaviors and Mating Habits

  • Although paper wasps eat nectar and pollen, they also consume caterpillars and other insects.
  • During cool seasons, paper wasps swarm as this is a time when they don’t have any larvae to protect or nests to build. This swarming behavior, which occurs in autumn, is linked with mating in which male wasps meet females. The males look for perches for sitting and release odors that attract females.
  • The male dies at some point after the mating process, while the female looks for winter shelter.

How Paper Wasps Differ From Yellow Jackets

Sometimes, paper wasps are confused with yellow jackets. These two types of insects look similar, but they’re actually different. For example, paper wasps are slightly larger. Unlike paper wasps, yellow jackets often build their nests in burrows in the ground or have large sac-like, above-ground nests.

They also differ in behavior. Yellow jackets are more aggressive and are frequently found swarming over trash cans and spills of human food. Paper wasps build smaller nests than those of yellow jackets. While the nests of paper wasps have their cells exposed, yellow jacket nest cells are hidden on the inside of the nest. 

Nest Characteristics

Paper wasps build their nests from a plant material that they mix with their saliva. As a result, their grayish nest resembles paper, giving them their name.

A typical nest consists of hexagonal cells or compartments in which the wasps lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the young remain in the cells until they’re adults. Because their nests look much like umbrellas, paper wasps are also known as umbrella wasps.

Prevention Measures

  • As paper wasps typically get into houses through holes and tiny cracks around windows or in eaves, be sure that all windows and doors are screened or kept closed.
  • Caulk all screens.
  • Look for large openings on the outside of your house and repair them as soon as possible.
  • Check eaves for points of entry where wasps can enter.
  • Close your garage when it’s not in use.

Control Methods

Aerosol pesticides can be effective, but they can be expensive and expose people living in the home to insecticides. If you do use an aerosol pesticide, choose a product that’s specifically labeled for wasps and hornets and carefully follow the directions.

Most wasp sprays are equipped with a propellant that lets you spray from a distance that’s safe. Do not stand under a nest when you apply the pesticide. Consider that wasps can descend from the nest or chemicals can fall on your skin or eyes.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Nests are commonly found hanging from trees.
  • The wasps won’t attack you if you don’t provoke them.
  • Surprisingly, most species are thought to be beneficial because they eat other pests and help with pollination.
  • The most effective way to take care of the problem is to remove the nest. However, never attempt to remove a wasp nest on your own as doing so can be risky. Instead, let a pest control specialist do the job.

Don’t hesitate to call Miller Pest and Termite Control. Our qualified, bonded and insured pest exterminations have a proven reputation for removing all types of insects, termites and pests in the communities of Des Moines, Ankeny, Indiana and Ames. Please contact us and learn more about our wide range of pest control services.