Wasp squatters need eviction
June 8, 2009 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Looking to remove two wasp nests, but the location makes standard tactics not viable.

I have a storage shed in my back yard that I well.. store things in. I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that there were a few wasps hanging around its general vicinity while I was out in the yard but didn't think too much of it until I saw a few fly in to the shed through gaps. I came back late that night since I needed something from the shed anyway and pointed a flashlight around looking to see what the little beggars were up to and on the ceiling I see not one, but two nests. They are currently small, one about golf ball sized, and the other about 1.5x that size. Now, I don't know if both are active nests or just one since it was late at night and all the wasps are asleep I guess. I have a huge phobia about wasps and going back in the day for recon just doesn't sound like a Good Idea to me.

Past removal techniques have usually involved hot flaming death in liquid form and were highly successful. However, that's not really an option in a small (8'x12') space full of my stuff. Same goes for using poison foam/sprays as I don't want that all over my stuff either. There's also the complication with a poison foam spray of there being two potential targets and what if both are active and have some sort of mutual defense treaty or similar. The shed is located in such a place in my yard with a hill that quick retreat in the face of a non-poisoned nest response team is a challenging task. So poison foam is out. I then thought about someone's suggestion to use the shop vac on the nests, but again the two targets presents an issue with a potential angry response from the unengaged target.

One crazy thought that either occurred to me directly or was influenced by something I heard/read elsewhere was to take my garden hose and throw the hose end in through a small gap in the shed's doorway at night, then take the other end of the hose and attach it to my tailpipe and let the car idle for about a half hour or so on the idea that the CO from the tailpipe will do in all the wasps and then go in the next day with the shop vac and take down the nests. There's no risk to neighborhood cats or animals as the shed gaps are only about the size of a quarter or smaller, no way someone's cat will accidentally be collateral damage. Can anyone see a glaring fault with this plan (like it just won't kill the wasps), or does anyone have a better idea to eliminate 2 separate nests in the same confined space safely?
posted by barc0001 to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't fill your shed with CO2. Call an exterminator.
posted by ellF at 12:47 PM on June 8, 2009

2 shop vacs at once? Do you have a friend who owns one and is willing to help?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2009

Your idea about carbon-monoxide seems a bit over the top.

Either bomb the shed (meaning, use an insect gas bomb) or call an exterminator.
posted by Flood at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2009

Just call an exterminator.
posted by onhazier at 1:02 PM on June 8, 2009

Go in at night with a bucket (say a margarine tub with a lid) and a pair of scissors. Do one tonight and the next tomorrow.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:03 PM on June 8, 2009

From what I remember, whatever you do as far as removal goes, do it in the early evening.

I have memories of my father battling rather angry wasps that came back at dusk looking for the nests he removed in the early afternoon.

fwiw, given your criteria, I would suggest emptying a container of wasp killer INTO a shop vac and THEN sucking them into it. Wasps are resilient and the vacuum alone may not kill them.* You will have to move fast, but short of shelling out for an exterminator it seems like your best bet.

Keep it on for a good 4 or 5 minutes after so they don't break free and get you.*

Oh, and the vac's filter should be clean so the suction is as high as it can be.(again, *)

*I had the misfortune as a child of walking into a room with showerhead-sized nests and having to stand still like a statue until my mom found me and vacuumed them off, one at a time. I was only stung three or four times, the last of which was one that got out of the hose. That was a BAD, LONG DAY.
posted by Tchad at 1:09 PM on June 8, 2009

Bug bomb is what I would use. Set it at night, and by morning the insecticide will be disbursed or inert. You can set it, close the door quietly, and go away with an evil cackle.

An exterminator would be too much $ for this small problem.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:15 PM on June 8, 2009

Ok, so I disagree with the other comments to call an exterminator. Given the size of the nests and their location you shouldn't have a problem removing them yourself. If your worried about killing the wasps and don't mind having them for another week or so I would buy one or two of these
http://eartheasy.com/store/proddetail.php?prod=SYJ24. (sorry I suck at posting hyperlinks here).

Otherwise, wrap a red tinted cloth around at flashlight (wasps are sensitive to white light) and go out there and do it yourself. The wasps will be very drowsy/asleep and as long as you make very little noise you should be fine. Place a cloth bag over the entire nest and quickly tie it off at the top; as you draw in the tie, pull the nest free. The bag should be well sealed. Set the bag in a pail of water; drop a rock on the bag to keep it fully submerged.

As far as the common defense theory goes... unless these nests are right next to eachtother (2ft) it is likely they are two different nests and wasps do not like nesting next eachother... theu might even be at war!
posted by cheechman85 at 1:18 PM on June 8, 2009

I had wasp nests under the eaves outside my apartment balcony which was three floors up. I bought some wasp killer in a can. It was special because it could spray, like, 5' away. I was able to coat the nests and they seemed to abandon it without much problem.
posted by amanda at 1:22 PM on June 8, 2009

He's worried about his stuff, so poisons/toxins are off the table.

I'm going to recommend two cans of Aquanet, one in each hand, as wasps are frightening not because they sting, but because they can fly and sting. Aquanet, applied heavily, turns flying hymenoptera into slow walking hymenoptera, easily dispatched with a shoe. Do the job at dusk when the wasps are all back at the nest and more restful. Set up a bright light pointing away from you. Plan your escape route ahead of time in case of disaster, making sure it's unfettered. Spray the living crap out of them and do a paso doble on their chitinous carcasses.

The light is an attractant and a misdirection in case you miss some - the wasps will fly toward the light, most likely.

I have no great love for stinging insects.
posted by plinth at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2009

I'd go in early morning and spray one quickly with wasp killing spray, then run out. Attack the second nest the next day.

You don't need to saturate the nests until they're dripping. That stuff is powerful and a small amount will do the job on these small nests.

I don't think it's as big a deal as you're making it out to be. You'll be fine and in two days your problem will be gone.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:37 PM on June 8, 2009

There's a type that squirts a liquid like 20 feet so you can stand as far away as possible.. You don't need foam, or fire.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2009

> I would suggest emptying a container of wasp killer INTO a shop vac and THEN sucking them into it.

You know insecticide is flammable, right?

Flammable vapour + enclosed space + spark (electric motor) = boom.

I'm trying to remember where I read this, but someone with arachnaphobia vacuumed up some spiders, realized they might stay alive inside there and freaked out. They vacuumed in spray insecticide and the thing burst into flame. Dammit. That's going to bug me now, no pun intended.
posted by Decimask at 2:12 PM on June 8, 2009

I think gassing them sounds like a much cooler idea than spraying pesticides, but I'd worry about leaving all of your stuff and the inside of your shed permanently smelling like exhaust if you use your car.

A quick check shows that nitrogen is lighter than air, and as far as I know is pretty inert. If you can tape up the shed's venting enough so that it's fairly well sealed, I think it's possible that you could suffocate the wasps with nitrogen. It's sold in bulk, try searching for "compressed gas near <where you live>" on google maps for some possible suppliers. I'm not sure of the effectiveness or price of this solution, but I'd love to hear the results if you try it.
posted by olaguera at 2:16 PM on June 8, 2009

Thanks for the tips so far everyone, just to clarify a couple of things, the roof of the shed is where the nests are located, and it's about 9' off the floor of the shed. Easy access to the nests is not possible without making some sort of commotion. Also, the nests are less than 2 feet apart. The bug bomb thing sounds vaguely appealing, but will there not be bug bomb residue all over everything in the shed if I do this?
posted by barc0001 at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2009

Here is something for your arsenal to consider, vegetable oil. It coats wings so they cannot fly and ruins the nest itself. I have taken out big nests with it and a little nest with spray olive oil in a can. I don't know how you would get it at such a height and oil residue may be an issue with your stuff, but just another non-toxic (to people) piece of the arsenal.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 2:36 PM on June 8, 2009

In fact, there would be residue all over the shed if you use the bomb. Can you still buy a fumigator, instead? It reacts with water, creates a fog, and doesn't have a propellant.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:55 PM on June 8, 2009

I usually just knock the nests down with a broom and run like hell. Come back in a few hours and spray or stomp the nest to kill anything left in it.
posted by torquemaniac at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get ahold of a CO2 fire extinguisher and freeze them. The first commenter mistyped. Make sure there is ventilation, and then discharge the extinguisher on these nests. It will freeze them, killing the inhabitants.

Then, with appropriate tools remove them and bag them and trash them.
posted by Danf at 4:37 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

For small nests like this, you don't need an exterminator.
1. Get a long handled broom.
2. Wait for late evening so they're slower and docile.
3. In quick succession, open shed door, shine flashlight on nest, knock down nest with broom.
4. Move away calmly. Don't run. Don't panic.
5. After a few minutes, go do the other nest.

They are unlikely to rebuild in the same place, since it's obviously inhospitable. When you come back the next day, they will have vacated.
Obviously, if you're allergic, find somebody else to do it. Nests that size won't have more than 5 or 10 wasps on them. It's highly unlikely that both are active, since wasps are very territorial.
Other thoughts: wear long sleeves, long pants, and sensible shoes.
posted by cosmicbandito at 5:19 PM on June 8, 2009

Go in there at night with two large freezer bags. Surround a nest with the bag, pull it loose, zip the bag closed.

Put the bags on the kitchen table and wait for the air to thin. The last one out of the nest will be the queen, and she'll be much bigger and probably scare you into thinking that this was a really bad idea, but she won't get through the bag before the air runs out.

My mom did this with a gallon-sized nest when I was 12. That queen wasp haunts me still.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:40 PM on June 8, 2009

That queen wasp haunts me still.

Mr. Yuck, it's stories like that which make me consider just firebombing the whole shed and blaming it on the neighborhood kids when the insurance adjuster shows up....


The CO2 extinguisher idea sounds intriguing as it mixes my desire to gas the little darlings with a safe way to do it and a cool whooshing sound all at once. Not to mention the freezing. Olive oil as well, I have a garden sprayer I use that might be able to deliver it super-soaker style and if soaking the nest is enough to ruin it, this might be an option. I can have the door open and spray the general ceiling area then book like hell to the house and not care about splashing.
posted by barc0001 at 11:12 PM on June 8, 2009

You can also consider two popular organic pest killers - neem oil (probably the better idea), and diatomaceous earth (not sure how you'd effectively powder-bomb the nests).

Personally, I find that they're so drowsy at night, that you can just take a can of standard permethrin-based "wasp and hornet killer" sprays, and handle the whole matter at dusk without any of them attacking. YMMV, of course.
posted by Citrus at 7:40 AM on June 9, 2009

To address the "poison/foam spray" "all over your stuff" -- I just don't think that's going to happen. If you want them gone, I think this is your best bet. I mean, if your other alternative is firebombing the whole structure, I don't really get the problem with an insect poison which, at most, will drip down the wall and can be cleaned up with a little soap and water. But, hey, burn the place down if that's what works. Just don't set your neighbor's property on fire.

Personally, having been stung by wasps and finding them to be vindictive little fuckers, I would not get any closer to the nest than necessary and would definitely remove/kill them somehow.
posted by amanda at 10:24 AM on June 9, 2009

Unless your property in the shed can be harmed by bleach droplets (that is, clothing and the like), put bleach into a sprayer, pump up the volume, and douse the nests. Run.

The wasps not killed in a few seconds by contact with the bleach will die from chlorine poisoning as it outgases.

It's been very successful for me in the past.

Helpful hint: don't watch the nest die. I have a memory of their family's last moments that will continue to haunt me...
posted by IAmBroom at 12:56 PM on June 9, 2009

Somewhat different approach. Consider first putting a simple, cheap, homemade wasp traps in the shed and leaving it there a few days, THEN tackling the nests per above. Google "homemade wasp trap" for LOTS of examples.

- AJ
posted by Alaska Jack at 9:56 PM on June 9, 2009

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