June 26, 2007 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Wasp paranoia??!!

I've found two giant nasty looking wasps in my house over the past two/three weeks. One was in our back room, where the door is left open now and then. Didn't think much of it. However, just found another one all the way across the house in the garage, where there isnt really any way to get in.

Clearly, my panicky mind figures there's a wasp nest somewhere in the walls of the house. My roomie and I just walked the permiter of the house - didnt hear/see anything.

My fear is further exacerbated by a past experience with bees - they invaded my house via an old cooking vent that hadn't closed up properly.

What can I do? Where do they hide? Am I being insane? All the info I've found is pretty generalized "ie once you find the nest, do xyz." Can you call Terminex, for example, and say "Hey! I've got bugs, dont know where?! Come and get em?"
posted by fillsthepews to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When there was a wasp infestation (?) in my neighbourhood about 25 years ago, my parents and neighbours made their own wasp traps. They used bread bags, but this solution
However, if you think that there may be a nest in your house, you could just call a pest control agency and ask them to come. I'm sure there's a call-out fee, but it may be worth your peace of mind.
posted by acoutu at 8:13 PM on June 26, 2007

Having two wasps in your house over the course of 2-3 weeks is not an indicator of an infestation. There are likely plenty of ways a wasp could have ended up in your garage - you would probably be surprised at how small of an opening a wasp could get through. And if both were originating from some nest in your house, wouldn't they be more likely to show up in the same or nearby area of the house?

Some wasps do nest in gaps and crevices so it is possible there are wasps nesting in your home. If you spent enough time observing the outside of your house you would see them coming and going.

Chances are its nothing. If wasps keep showing up yeah, talk to an exterminator. They've dealt with every possible permutation of bugs living in houses.
posted by nanojath at 8:14 PM on June 26, 2007

The wasps don't want to be inside, believe me. They need to get outside to forage. Do another perimeter check a couple hours before dusk, just as it begins to cool off, and you might be able to see them if they have nested somewhere in the house, because that's when they're gathering for the night.

Since you don't feel comfortable dealing with them I think a professional is your best bet. I've dealt with a nest just by spraying it with wasp killer foam several days in a row, then using expanding insulation foam to seal the opening. (If you seal it first, you could force the living wasps to find another route out -- which may be inside.)
posted by dhartung at 8:25 PM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

From here: "By setting out small chunks of tuna, you can watch struggling wasps slowly fly at a fast walking pace back to their nest. This technique, called “making a bee line”, is made even more effective if you are patient enough to keep placing the food closer and closer to the nest until it is found. It is better to find and have nests eliminated in the early summer rather than wait until their numbers are built up to maximum at the end of the season.
posted by tellurian at 8:29 PM on June 26, 2007

I've found two giant nasty looking wasps in my house over the past two/three weeks.

The first thing to do is to identify what type of wasp you are seeing. The only giant wasp I'm familar with is the Cicada Killer. Maybe you don't have wasps but instead have Carpenter Bees, (which can be bad news because they may be chewing holes in your house).

The reason to identify the species is so that you can determine whether they are social or not, what they eat, and what sort of damage they can do. Social wasps and bees build colonies that you may want to destroy, while the others are loners.

Look through wasps in Wiki, BugGuide, or Whats that bug, and see if you can identify your terrors.

If you don't know what they are you won't know if there needs to be anything done about them.

P.S. Two summers ago I had a momma mud dauber wasp fly in an open window and construct a tube of mud on a cardboard box near my computer monitor. It was cool to watch her and it took her maybe 2 days to finish the nest for 1 egg.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2007

Response by poster: Yee gods, I was hoping to identify it through that link, but got major, major heebie jeebies and had to stop. It's body was very segmented, like many of those examples, but none of them struck me as 100% on.

Thanks for all the advice. They dont seem to be, from my web reading, too agressive unless you piss them off. So, my fears of being attacked and eaten in my sleep are squashed. No pun intended.
posted by fillsthepews at 9:28 PM on June 26, 2007

I was hoping to identify it through that link, but got major, major heebie jeebies and had to stop.

Well how about some verbal descriptions. Were they fat or skinny? (mud daubers are so thin it seem like their body parts are connect by threads). What color? Solid black? Black with orange or yellow or white? Mostly yellow?

I would tell you to catch one and take a picture but you seem too phobic.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2007

We had a persistent wasp nest in our old house, in the soffit boards just below the roof. It was pretty hard to spot from below (it was on the second floor, in shadow and well inside a gap in the boards) - you could only really see it by spotting the wasp traffic directly outside it at dusk. Which pointless anecdote is to say that wasps tend to nest in dark, unfrequented places with easy external access.

Check your attic / loft, boards around the outside of the house and any airbricks or the like. You don't need to use one of those wasp destroyer sprays (especially don't use these if the nest is in an inaccessible place, and you need to nuke it and get away fast), if you can i) find the nest and ii) find the gap that they're getting outside through. In which case you can treat the gap with a contact insecticide powder - they will track it back into their nest, and should die off within a few days. When they're gone, seal up the gap if possible.
posted by bifter at 1:26 AM on June 27, 2007

Thanks for all the advice. They dont seem to be, from my web reading, too agressive unless you piss them off. So, my fears of being attacked and eaten in my sleep are squashed.

Providing it was actually a wasp, and not, say, a yellowjacket or worse, hornet, I'd say you needn't worry. We had wood wasps living on our property every summer. Sometimes they'd build a nest a little too close (or inside), then you'd see them inside all the time, sometimes near the windows trying desperately (and ineptly) to get out. More often you'd just find a bunch of dead wasps near your windows and doors. We never got stung.

By fall, they'd all be dead. Except on occasion, when we'd find one had been hanging out somewhere in the walls for months into the winter time. We've had two in the last two winters, and each time my crazy girlfriend and I would leave honey out for him to eat and occasionally flick water at him. Yes, we're loons. The wasps eventually got so tame that you could pick them up on cotton balls (baited with honey) and carry them to another part of the house.

Wasps are harmless unless you step on them or hit them with your hands (don't swat them, just walk away if you feel they're getting too close or annoying). As terrifying as wasps may appear, carpenter ants are the real fuckers of the insect kingdom (at least, up here in Maine). They will fuck up your home. Wasps are the shit compared to those fuckers.

You want to know how cool wasps are? One species injects the brains of cockroaches with its venom, which instead of killing them, causes them to become the wasp's slave. The wasp then rides the cockroach back to its lair, wherein the wasp lays eggs in the (still living) cockroach and then buries it in its own lair. When the wasp eggs hatch, they have a ready-made meal waiting for them! So, please Hammer, don't hurt 'em.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:42 AM on June 27, 2007

I'm in your area, and last summer I had mud daubers attempt to build nests in my apartment a couple times. They built the nests (as mentioned previously, it's a tube of mud or two) up near the ceiling in fairly secluded areas. I found them by just watching the wasps fly in through an open window and following them to their nest, then trashing the nest after they left and closing the window.

As MonkeySaltedNuts mentions, mud daubers have a really skinny section connecting their thorax with the main part of their abdomen. What was pretty interesting was that the nests were full of dead/paralyzed spiders--so if you have spider problem you might just want to let the wasps take care of it.
posted by LionIndex at 7:31 AM on June 27, 2007

Response by poster: Gah, I am phobic. I apologize. It was quite large, at least to me. Perhaps as big or a bit bigger than a quarter? It did not look like a bee in the least. It seemed uniform in color; sort of a dark tan. Mud Daubers seemed somewhat close. If I find another one, ill make my roomie capture it and take a picture. Im such a nice house-mate.
posted by fillsthepews at 10:40 AM on June 27, 2007

Since you are very squicked out by them,. you can get a hand-vacuum just for bugs.
posted by theora55 at 2:28 PM on June 27, 2007

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