The arrival of spring means beautiful flowers, warmer days, and the return of many pests. Wasps are amongst the most feared pest in most homeowner’s backyards, which is why you keep an eye out for the telltale beehives hanging from trees, eaves, and overhangs. Unfortunately, the wasps invading your backyard might be collecting under your feet.
Ground wasps are a common pest and learning how to identify them and their hives can help you find the best way to get rid of them. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about ground wasps.
How Do I Identify a Ground Wasp?
Most wasps, bees, and hornets look very similar. However, learning how to spot a ground wasp is the first step in determining if you should be looking for a hive in the trees or under your feet. Otherwise known as digger wasps or sand wasps, ground wasps are pests that belong to the family crabronidae.
Most homeowners will find one or more of three different varieties of ground wasps in their backyard: the great gold digger wasp, eastern cicada killers, and yellow jackets. Some varieties of yellow jackets, which are larger and have distinctive yellow and black stripes, will create nests in abandoned rodent burrows.
The adult great golden digger is around one-inch in length and appears red and black. Although their name might be menacing, the eastern cicada killer can be beneficial because it will eliminate cicada nests on your property. This species is typically the largest of the three and the adult will reach lengths over around one and one-half inches.
The eastern cicada killer is only found in the eastern United States and is black with orange wings.
Where Will I Find a Ground Wasp Nest?
If you think you have ground wasps in your backyard, the best way to locate the nest is to follow the wasps. The wasps will fly low, in a group, and eventually will return to their nest to feed the queen and care for their larvae.
The adult great gold digger prefers to build their underground nests in sandy conditions, although they will build a nest in your lawn if necessary. Yellow jackets will once build their nests in dirt. The eastern cicada will build deep nests where cicadas are plentiful.
No matter what type of ground nest has invaded your property, you can identify an underground nest in several ways. For example, if the ground wasp had to burrow underground to create their nest, you will notice small piles of dirt near a small hole. The colony will also create an underground nest in a safe, sheltered area, including beneath a tree or under a shrub or bush.
A ground wasp can also burrow under a pile of leaves or mulch, so you might struggle to find the exact location of the nest.
If you’ve seen ground wasps but are still having trouble locating the nests, place a bowl or sugar water or a sugary snack, such as candy, near where you have seen wasps before. Watch the wasps as they grab some sugar and take it back to their nest.
How Can I Get Rid of Ground Wasps and Their Nests?
Even if you discover a small wasp nest, contact a professional to eliminate the underground nest, especially if the nest belongs to a colony of yellow jacket wasps. Yellow jacket wasps are notoriously territorial and won’t hesitate to attack if the colony believes its larvae and queen are threatened. Additionally, you might have multiple underground nests, which are even more difficult to control.
A pest control agent has the tools, experience, and equipment to quickly identify the type of ground wasp in your backyard, find the location of the nest or nests, and eliminate the nest safely without harming any other beneficial insects on your property.
How Can I Make My Yard Less Attractive to Ground Wasps?
Unfortunately, ground wasps are difficult to keep out of your yard. However, you can do several things to make your backyard less attractive, including:
- Remove trash from your yard. Pick up any trash, especially any soda cans, candy wrappers, or anything that smells sweet. Keep your outdoor garbage cans covered as well.
- Pick up fallen fruit. If you have fruit trees, pick up anything that falls on the ground as soon as possible. The sweet smell of fruit will attract ground wasps.
- Mow your lawn regularly. A lawn that is kept short is less attractive to wasps because it provides less cover. Keeping your grass shorter also makes it easier to spot any established ground wasp nests as well.
Ground wasps are a common pest and their nests are sometimes tricky to find and should be removed by a professional. If you have any additional questions, contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management.