Yellow jackets are eating our house
October 1, 2009 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Yellow jackets, or some other form of wasp, have formed a nest inside our roof through a tiny hole in the shingles. Spray and powder hasn't worked yet. Any ideas?

Yellow jackets have built a nest in the soffit overhanging the porch of my home. The wasps are entering a small hole between the shingles of the roof along the edge of the eaves.

I have tried wasp spray and have also inserted a powdered product in the hole (Bonide Spider and Ground Bee Killer using a snorkel tube applicator). I think the nest may be built in a void at a distance from the entry hole so the products I've tried are not reaching the nest.

The owner of a local farm supply store suggested I knock a hole in the eaves and throw a pesticide fogger inside the area. I was hoping there might be a less destructive way to alleviate the problem.

Our concern is that the wasps may dig inside to the home in the winter, when it gets colder and they want the warmth indoors. I considered using foaming epoxy to seal the hole, but I'm worried that would just encourage them to dig inside sooner.

Thanks for your help.
posted by mccarty.tim to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We used expanding foam, but this was for a nest in our garage soffit. It worked because we didn't just seal the hole; we sprayed deep into the soffit to let the foam completely fill the chamber. That was effective at stopping the burrowing in this case. However this was an older garage with solid wood soffits; if you have the perforated aluminum kind that approach could get messy.

We used the same approach for a nest in a brick chimney (different house.) There we did see one wasp that managed to burrow through to the inside (but only the one.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2009

Umm, one more minor detail. Did I mention you _have_ to be quick in covering an active wasp's nest?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:19 AM on October 1, 2009

Best answer: You need something stronger. The preferred dust for hornets is Drione which apparently is hard to come by this year. It will instantly kill the bees that travel through the hole. An exterminator will have this product but that will be several hundred dollars. Hopefully you can find a small bottle for $25 to $50.

DO NOT fill the hole until you eliminate the bees. They may find an alternate way out that involves the interior of your house. Yikes!
posted by caddis at 7:33 AM on October 1, 2009

Response by poster: I'm interested in the Drione dust, but I don't know where to buy it. Would the local Agway or a big box hardware store have it? Or will I have to most likely end up ordering it online? I noticed on the site that it comes in what looks like an aerosol can. Is that the same dust as what comes in the gallon jug? If I can't find that, is there a good way to blow dust inside the hole?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:47 AM on October 1, 2009

It's a dry dust with a silica gel to keep it dry and help it stick to any moisture on the bees. It is applied with a duster which you buy separately (and should use for not other substances obviously). It does look kind of like a regular spray can might have been available for Drione on that site I linked, which would be quite convenient.

I have never seen this stuff at Agway or HomeDepot etc. but according to my exterminator some places around town sell it. He wouldn't say whom. Again, this year it may be tough to find. The replacement stuff looks equivalent. It has the same 1% pyrethrins.
posted by caddis at 7:56 AM on October 1, 2009

The hell with all of that poison stuff, make yourself a wasp sucking machine. It'll get em' all!
posted by sgobbare at 9:22 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Most hornets and wasps only use a nest for one season. They die off at the end of the season and the queen goes off someplace to wait out the winter in hibernation. They don't return to the same nest next year. With autumn coming on you might be able to just wait a few weeks for colder weather and the problem will take care of itself. You should see a gradual decrease in wasp activity over a couple of weeks and finally nothing at all.
posted by JackFlash at 9:35 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd research what kind of wasps they are. A few months ago, at the urging of a neighbor, I eradicated a nest of wasps near my front door even though they'd never bothered me. Later, I found out that they were beneficial paper wasps and I'd gotten rid of some effective and natural real pest control.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2009

I took out a nest in a soffit earlier in the summer. I used standard foam pesticide - I shot a ton of it through the small access hole (this required getting pretty close to the hole, and I took a few stings for it), and then the poison foam expanded inside the soffit and took out the nest. Could be that I just got lucky; but it might be worth trying.

In looking around for pesticide-free alternatives I did come across one suggestion that some professionals just freeze the wasps. The next time I need to take care of a nest, provided it is in the ground I'm going to try liquid nitrogen and/or dry ice (the latter to see if I could suffocate them). Not sure how either could help in the eaves, but maybe I'm missing something.

My other lessons in extermination: 1) put a tarp or some cardboard down below the soffit to collect any poison that drips; and 2) do your work at night (wasps sleep deeply, or at least wake up slowly).

Also, what I saw online didn't give me the impression that yellow jackets would try to find a way inside your house come winter. My sense is they just run out of food and hibernate / die.
posted by genug at 11:22 PM on October 1, 2009

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