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Wasp queens not a sign of active nests

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Seal openings that allowed hidden nests in voids last year
 Wasps have been active inside homes with the recent warm weather we have experienced. A question people ask is whether this indicates that a nest with live wasps is in their house. Fortunately, what people are seeing are overwintering queens that have randomly selected a given building last fall in which to overwinter. The old queen and all of the workers in the nests died last fall when freezing temperatures arrived. When it warms up during late winter and early spring, these new queens become active but usually become trapped accidentally inside homes and other buildings.

It is important to note that while wasps do not reuse old nests (an exception to this is European paper wasps), they can reuse spaces. If a person had a problem with a hidden nest, i.e. one that is in a wall void or other space within a building, now is a good time to seal the opening where the wasps were flying in and out. This will help prevent new queens from starting any new nests in the cavities.

This is also true for ground nesting wasps that were found on your property last year. Queens construct nests in old rodent burrows and similar sites. Now is a great time to fill in these entrances so new queens are not able to start new nests in those spaces.

As long as temperatures remain cool, wasps will be generally inactive. But on days with warm, sunny weather, wasps may be seen in your home. The only necessary control is to physically remove (or crush) them. You can also capture them and release them outdoors.

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