Elite Pest Control, your hornet extermination experts
Even though they’re somewhat less common than wasps, hornets can still make your barbecues and summer activities a nightmare. Read on to learn the top hornet extermination and nest removal tips from the Elite Pest Control team, as well as how to identify them, keep them away and, above all, how not to get stung.
Is it a hornet or a wasp?
Hornets are a subfamily of wasps, both of which are part of the larger Vespidae classification. The naming of these stinging insects can be very confusing; there’s even a species of hornet called the ground wasp!
Thankfully, identifying hornets isn’t difficult if you look closely at a specimen. At first glance, hornets resemble jellowjacket wasps; however, they have a rounder thorax and the abdomen is a yellow-orange colour. They are much bigger than jellowjackets and other wasps.
Female hornets are about 30 mm long, while males and female workers are generally smaller. The thorax of a hornet is covered with tiny hairs, and it features two pairs of reddish-coloured wings; the front pair is longer than the hind wings.
Like the yellowjacket, the hornet does not lose its stinger after injecting it into something. This means that it can sting its prey several times for maximum effectiveness.
Do hornets swarm?
Hornet colonies contain anywhere from 100 to 400 individuals. They can be found in all regions of Quebec, including the Outaouais, the Greater Montreal region, the Laurentians, Lanaudière and Trois-Rivières.
In general, they are peaceful insects, and if you don’t swat at them while they’re flying they’ll leave you alone. However, it’s still necessary to be careful around a hornet nest, as they will instinctively move to protect it if they feel it’s threatened, e.g. if you approach within two to three metres of it.
Even though you might wish hornets and their stingers didn’t exist, these insects are in fact an important part of the ecosystem. For one thing, they help preserve crops by feeding on other insects that damage them, including:
- Large flies
Hornets can travel more than a kilometre away from their nest to hunt these insects and other foods they love, such as aphid honeydew, the juice of fallen fruits, flower nectar and even sweet beverages like pop!
Beware of hornet nests
In the spring, typically around mid-April in Quebec, you may start to find hornet nests near your home. The female hornet, whose eggs were fertilized just before winter, is the only one that can survive the cold season. As soon as the weather gets milder, she starts looking for a place to build her nest.
The ground wasp builds its nest by digging into the dirt, while other species of hornet build grey papery nests made from chewed wood fibre. These are usually built in high spots. The most common places are:
- Trees and shrubs
- Hollow tree trunks
- Backyard patios or decks
- Under the eaves of roofs
- Garden sheds
- Wall voids
Prevention of hornet infestations and stings
If you’ve been noticing hornets around your house, make sure your window screens don’t have any tears; even a small opening will let in flying insects.
Do an inspection from the outside of your home and seal up any openings and cavities you find. If you find a nest in such a space, you can let us get rid of the hornets and then do the home sealing to keep them away.
When you’re working or playing outdoors, follow these tips to avoid hornet stings:
- Wear shoes or sandals when walking on the lawn.
- Don’t use scented personal care products.
- Wear white or light-coloured clothing.
- Don’t make sudden gestures around hornets, bees or wasps.
- Cover sweet drinks so a hornet doesn’t fall into your glass without you realizing it.
- Don’t eat outdoors if you’re allergic to hornet stings, as is 2 to 3% of the population.
If you do get stung, disinfect the sting and apply a cold pack to relieve the pain. If you experience any discomfort other than localized pain, or if you experience unusual swelling, seek medical attention immediately.
How to get rid of hornets and earth wasps
To remove visible nests in the spring or summer, first remove any pets from the area. Ask family members to stay indoors to avoid being stung.
Here is how our pest-control technicians proceed: they spray an insecticide into the opening of the nest. This step must be done when it’s dark, when hornets are less active. Never spray water onto or into a nest in order to make it fall from a high spot—the hornets will respond with aggression.
For the destruction of a suspected nest that isn’t visible, the method is a little different. The exterminator will apply a pesticide where the hornets are congregating, but he or she won’t block off the entrance to the nest. Doing so could cause the hornets to simply build themselves another exit or move into your house.