Should You Remove Old Wasp Nests In Winter?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:00 pm

A wasp nest in the house scares off many residents because wasps, like hornets, are considered aggressive compared to bees. In addition, wasp nests must not be removed by themselves, except in winter, when the animals have left the nest. If you want to get rid of the nest by itself, there are some points to consider, which can prevent a new settlement in the following year.

Wasps nest removal
Why should wasps’ nests only be removed in winter?

Should You Remove Old Wasp Nests In Winter?

Like bees and bumblebees, wasps and their largest representative, the hornets, are protected by law because they play an important role in the natural cycle. Compared to pollen collectors, wasps and hornets hunt other insects and help as beneficial insects in the elimination of pests.

  • disturbing the animals and the wasp nest
  • injuring the insects
  • the intentional killing
  • trapping the animals
  • deliberate damage to the wasp nest
  • removal of wasp nest without permission during the period from May to December

Wasp colonies
Since wasp colonies inhabit your attic or tool shed only for a certain period of time, you can dispose of the wasp nest over the winter without any problems. You should only pay attention to certain aspects, such as the timing.

The best time to get rid of a wasp nest from the house is in mid to late winter. At this time, all wasps have literally “flown the coop,” certainly the queens. The worker wasps often die either in the nest or outside. This rather late time of the year is chosen to make sure that the wasp nest is really no longer inhabited.

Wasps are divided into two groups:

  • early leaving the nest species
  • late leaving the nest species

Species leaving the nest early are usually no longer visible at the beginning of September or in the second week of September. However, late leaving species remain on average until the beginning of November. These include the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris), European wasp (Vespula germanica) and the hornet (Vespa crabro). The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) falls under this category. You will most likely find one of the four species mentioned above in your attic, as the other twelve native wasp species build smaller nests, most of which are located in the ground.

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Accordingly, the best dates are:

  • Mid-November to late December for early species
  • Mid-January to the end of February for late species

Beneficial insects
This way, you can completely play it safe from encountering any more wasps, which, of course, makes it easier to remove the nest. In addition, it allows you to escape possible penalties that would result from disposing of it too early. However, you can also easily wait until early April and then dispose of the nest. The reason for this is the benefit, as the nests are an ideal winter home for other insects such as lacewings. Many beneficial insects use the nests for this purpose and leave them again when it gets warmer in the spring. From an ecological point of view, you should therefore wait longer.

Tip: The milder the winters are in your region, the more important it is to wait until late winter so that there really are no more workers left in the nest.

Many people want to remove a hornet or wasp nest as soon as possible because they are afraid for their own safety. However, in many cases, removing the nest is not necessary at all. The reason for this lies in the animals’ way of life.

  1. repopulation

Up to now, it has been proven only extremely rarely that young queens occupy old nests from the previous year. Although the nests give off an odor that sometimes attracts wasps, old nests are avoided. They are only reoccupied if there really is no other safe place nearby to build a nest.

You can use this to your advantage:

do not remove the nest until April
at this time most of the young queens have already found a new nesting place
during the search avoid the old wasp nest in your attic
The old nest will save you from re-colonization by the queen. This method works very well and so you have enough time over the summer to make your premises wasp-proof.

  1. accessibility

Wasps are always looking for a suitable location for their nest. That is, if they have other sites available and the old nest is still standing during the nest search, the queens prefer them.

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In addition, the nests themselves do not pose any danger. It is necessary to dispose of the wasp nest if the building structure is damaged or, for example, a window can no longer be closed properly. This leads to poor building insulation, which in turn causes you energy costs. So you should compare very carefully whether the wasp nest really needs to be removed.

Important points
If you have decided to remove the wasp nest, you need to consider the following points.

  1. check the nest

Be sure to check with a professional or through professional literature to see if the nest is a wasp nest. If bees have nested in your home, do not remove the nest over the winter as bees hibernate in it.

  1. when removing

Be sure to transport the entire nest in one piece into a sturdy trash bag. This will reduce the amount of work you have to do. Next, use a brush and spatula or knife to transport as much nest material as possible from the walls, ceiling and other surfaces into the same bag. Be especially thorough when doing this. Wet clean the entire area afterwards. Young queens, while avoiding repopulating an old nest, are sometimes attracted to the odor, which in turn could lead to a new colony. By wet cleaning, you counteract this problem.

  1. subsequent prevention

After you have removed the nest and cleaned the site, be sure to check the premises, such as the attic, for possible openings and seal them. The fewer opportunities young queens have to enter your premises, the lower the risk of settlement.

Remove hornet nest
If you have a hornet nest under the gable or in the attic instead of a wasp nest, you can proceed in the same way here. Since the life cycle of wasps and hornets is the same, they even leave the nest at the same time, you can safely remove the nest. However, compared to their smaller relatives, whose nests they could safely leave, it is recommended to completely remove hornet nests in winter.

The reason for this is the way of life of the animals:

  1. young queens

Young hornet queens are attracted to the smell of old nests compared to wasp queens. That is, they settle there again and so the whole cycle starts all over again. Although hornets prefer to nest away from humans, the smell of excreta from the preceding colony entices the young queens to resettle.

  1. excretions
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Hornet excretions are a major problem and should not be ignored. In fact, compared to the excreta of wasps and bees, they flow down from the nest and collect in one point.

The excretions have two major disadvantages:

they discolor house walls from the inside and outside
they damage the structure of the building, for example, by swelling wood due to the moisture in the excreta.
If the same hornet nest were to be populated for several years in a row, it can cause serious damage to the building over a long period of time. For this reason, it is recommended that the nest be removed over the cold season and the site cleaned as thoroughly as possible. The less of the nest that remains, the less chance there is of re-colonization. Likewise, as with wasp nests, look for possible openings through which the insects may have entered the house if the nest was in the attic, for example. Seal these and the risk of uninvited guests next year is low.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

One comment

  1. We have had a wasp nest inside the roof of our addition (house, inside the roof itself, so I cannot get in there.) If I spray the small opening with waspacide and close the opening that they fly into, will it help?

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