How To Get Rid of Hornets Safely

Identifying, inspecting, and getting rid of hornets with nine different methods.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: September 08, 2023
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We know that bees won’t want to sting us because they only get one sting in their life. However, creatures such as wasps and hornets are a lot more aggressive as they aren’t constricted in the number of stings that they get in their life.

Hornets aren’t a creature that we want around our house, so it is important to know how to get rid of hornets. Getting rid of the hornets around the home and in the yard will keep us protected from their aggressive nature and keep us from getting stung.

Identifying a Hornet

How To Get Rid of Hornets Safely

Many people get hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps confused. They mix each of them up but that worsens their ability to get rid of them. You have to know the creature that you are dealing with to be able to properly get rid of them.

The easiest way to identify a hornet is by paying attention to the black markings on its body. Hornets will have straight black lines across its body, whereas wasps and yellow jackets usually have more intricate patterns. Honey and bumblebees also have straight black lines across their body, but they also have a fuzz, while the hornet is completely smooth.

Are They Hornets, Yellow Jackets, Wasps, or Bees?

Knowing the difference between hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, and bees will let you know, what your plan of action should be. Look for the identifying features of a hornet such as its smooth body with straight black lines across it. Yellow jackets and wasps tend to have black patterns across their bodies instead of straight lines. If you understand that you actually have wasps instead of hornets, it’s worth checking our tips on keeping wasps away.

Then, the easiest way to tell if it’s a hornet or a bee is to look for fuzz. Bees all have fuzz on some part of their body that allows them to pollinate plants. Hornets don’t pollinate, so they don’t need to have fuzz, instead of having a completely smooth body.

Inspecting a Hornet

If you are beginning to notice that you are seeing a lot of hornets around your home, you should do an inspection to check for any nests or collections of hornets. The occasional hornet can just be one simply flying by from a neighbor’s yard or from a nearby forest. However, if you start to see many or see them consistently, you probably have a nest nearby.

A hornet can set up a nest pretty much anywhere. Many people have had problems with hornets setting up a nest in their attic, but they can also make nests in the ground or inside a tree. Take a walk both inside and outside of your home to see where you are finding the most hornets flying around.

Getting Rid of Hornets

Dealing with hornets can be scary. You are dealing with creatures that can get aggressive and are not afraid to sting you. Some hornets can be vicious, and when dealing with hornets, you should always take the proper precautions. Follow our instructions for getting rid of hornets effectively and safely.

1. Identify the Hornet’s Nest

How To Get Rid of Hornets Safely
A hornet’s nest is made out of a paper-like material and will look somewhat like a cocoon.

When dealing with a hornet’s nest, the first step you need to complete is finding the nest. This step seems obvious enough, except that it can be tricky to find the nest when you aren’t sure where the hornets are coming from.

As said above, hornets can make nests in a wide variety of places. Outside, you can find a hornet’s nest in the ground, in a tree cavity, in a crevice in your house, or sometimes even around your porch. Inside, people have found a nest in their attic or basement.

Start by thinking about where you have seen more hornets. Are you seeing them inside your house or outside? If inside, take a look around the rooms that you don’t frequent and check the vents. If outside, take a walk around the perimeter of your house and around your lawn.

A hornet’s nest will be round in shape and have a hole near the bottom where the hornets will go in and out. However, if you are dealing with ground hornets, the nest will look like a hole in the ground that you will see hornets fly in and out of.

Once you have spotted the nest, you will know where to put your hornet-killing product. However, you must take some safety precautions when you are dealing with hornets. Getting near the nest and putting unknown materials on or around it can agitate the hornets.

To stay safe, wear protective clothes that aren’t bright colors. Wear thick gloves and make sure as much skin as possible is covered. Colors like black, blue, and brown are good choices as they aren’t bright and won’t be seen as a threat to the hornets.

2. Spray the Nest with Insecticide

One great way to get rid of hornets is to use an insecticide. Using insecticides will kill off the hornets that you are dealing with. When using an insecticide, the main goal is to kill the queen hornet. Once the queen hornet is down, the other hornets won’t know what to do.

Insecticides come in a variety of different forms. You can get an insecticide that works against hornets in powder, spray, or even trap forms. The Tempo 1% Dust is an example of a dust insecticide that works against hornets.

Dust works best for getting rid of ground hornets. Simply pour the dust into the entrance of the nest and allow it to kill the hornets it comes into contact with.

When dealing with paper-like hornet nests, sprays and aerosols work best against these hornets. The PT Wasp Freeze 2 is an example of an aerosol spray that allows you to spray the entrance of the nest along with spraying around the nest as well. Aerosol is great as it can reach more places, and it can be used at a variety of nest angles. To find further insecticide spray options, check out the best wasp sprays.

Again, make sure that you have taken safety precautions before applying the insecticide. The hornets might get aggressive when they have been sprayed down with poison, so make sure you are wearing covering clothes that the hornets can’t easily sting.

Take time to research which is the best hornet sprays are best for you. If the nest is inside, you will want to consider a spray that is safe for pets and children, if that applies.

3. Reapply

While it’s great if the first time you have sprayed down the hornet nest it killed the queen hornet and many of the others in there, it’s not super likely. During this process, you will have to spray down the nest several times, reapplying the poison so more hornets get killed off.

The number of times that you will have to reapply will depend on many factors. Each case is different, so you will have to keep reapplying until you stop seeing hornets around.

4. Remove and Dispose of the Nest.

How To Get Rid of Hornets Safely
If you are worried about any lingering hornets, make sure to do this process at dusk or at night.

Once you stop seeing hornets flying around, there’s a good chance that the colony has died off or moved to a different location. At this point, the nest has no purpose, and you don’t want any material that could serve to invite a new colony of hornets nearby.

You will want to wear gloves during this process just in case there are any lingering hornets that will get mad from getting disturbed. Thick gardening gloves are the best for this as they have a strong amount of protection against stingers.

If the nest is high up in the tree or in a hard-to-reach spot, make the process easier by grabbing a step stool or a chair.

Reach up to the nest and grab it from its location. You might have to wiggle it out if it was made in the crevice of a tree or your house. The nest itself should release from its location easily. Any lingering residue on the tree or your house should be scraped off. This can be done with any tool that is dedicated to the outside. Even using a trowel will work.

Take a cloth and towel to wipe away stubborn residue. Make sure the area is clean, especially if the residue is on your house.

There isn’t any special way to dispose of the nest now that you have removed it. Simply toss it into the trash, and you won’t have to deal with hornets any longer.

5. Use Chemicals-Free Methods

Not everyone wants to use harsh chemicals to get rid of the hornets in or around their house. If that applies to you, know that there are chemical-free methods to get rid of hornets.

A chemical-free way to get rid of ground hornets is by using boiling water. Not only is this chemical-free, but it’s also super cost-effective! All you have to do is to boil some water on the stove, carefully take it outside, and pour it into the entrance of the hornet nest. The boiling hot temperature will kill off a lot of the hornets and other hornets that escape the heat will then drown. This method will take a few attempts to fully eradicate the nest, but it’s still super easy.

You can also pour a soap and water mix down into the nest as well. If you are dealing with a paper-like nest, turn the water/soap mixture into a spray and spray down the nest. Soap clogs the airways of hornets, effectively killing them.

6. Seal the Cracks

If your hornet problem was inside, after you have gotten rid of the nest, you will want to make sure that no hornet can get inside your house again. Make sure that all of the cracks in your house are completely sealed up. This makes sure that insects won’t be able to get into your house, protecting you from a bunch of bugs, including hornets.

7. Keep It Clean

This applies both inside and outside of your house. Keeping the inside of your house clean is super important to keep hornets, wasps, and all sorts of other insects away. With so many bugs being attracted to food or dark spaces in your house, not keeping your house clean is just inviting them all in.

You also need to keep the outside of your house clean to keep away from hornets. The more debris (dead leaves, stray twigs, and trash) that is around your house makes it easier for hornets to find spaces to make a nest. Keeping the outside of your house clean makes it so there aren’t nearly as many spots for hornets to make a nest.

8. Keep Flowers Away from High-Traffic Areas

If you want to keep wasps and hornets away from your house, having bright-colored flowers planted nearby won’t help. Flowers that are pretty and smell nice will attract these insects right to your yard. People who have problems with hornets and other stinging insects making nests near their houses won’t want to have flowers near the areas where people are frequently going past.

Consider reducing the flowers you have around your house if you want to make sure hornets won’t decide that your house is the place to be.

9. Call a Professional

If worse comes to worst and nothing seems to be working to get rid of the hornets around or in your house, it is time to call a professional. A professional will have access to stronger insecticides and will be able to come up with a good plan to get rid of the more stubborn nests that you have around your house.

There is nothing wrong with needing help from a professional. Sometimes, they will be able to solve the problem much faster than you would if you continue to struggle on your own.

How to Get Rid of Hornets in the Attic

Getting rid of hornets in your attic requires a bit of extra care. There are fewer places to run if a hornet gets aggressive while in your attic.

You can use an insecticide fogger like in the best wasp foggers. for the hornets in your attic or you could also use hornet traps. There are many great hornet traps out there that will lure the hornets into a contraption, and they’ll get stuck. At that point, they’ll have nothing to do but wait for death.

Getting Rid of a Hornets Nest in Trees

When getting rid of hornets in trees, you will want to use a spray insecticide to kill off as many hornets as possible. Make sure to wear protective gear so you don’t get stung by an angry hornet. Follow the steps that are listed above in how to get rid of hornets. You won’t want to use a dust product for tree hornets, as that wouldn’t work.

Spray and reapply the spray until there are no more hornets in the tree. Since the nest may not be as exposed, especially if it’s tucked in the tree, you might need to use more spray to make sure every hornet gets killed from it.

Preventing Hornets

You don’t want to make your yard or attic a place where hornets are attracted to visit. The best way to prevent hornets from coming to your house and attempting to move in is by keeping your lawn and house clean. Make sure that you don’t have any open and uneaten food lying anywhere.

Sweet fruits that have been tossed outside can bring hornets to your lawn. Having food left open for long periods of time in your house also acts as an invitation to nearby hornets. Keep everything inside and outside of your home clean so you don’t have to deal with hornets.

Another way to prevent hornets is to grow herbs that insects don’t like on your lawn. Plants such as mints, lemongrass, and cloves produce smells that hornets don’t enjoy. They won’t want to be around if your lawn smells like that. Then, bring those smells inside by using the essential oils of those plants in places like your attic and kitchen. It’s a sure way to make your property a place that hornets won’t enjoy being in.

Final Thoughts

Hornets are not fun to deal with whether they are inside or outside of your home. Whenever you deal with a stinging insect, you must take the proper precautions by making sure you are wearing gloves and wearing clothes that cover your skin.

It’s not worth it to get stung by a hornet. It will cause a ton of irritation and swelling to your skin. It’s especially not worth it when there is the chance of getting stung by a bunch of hornets.

Use these methods listed above to get rid of the hornets around your house no matter if they are ground hornets, paper hornets, or any other kind. There is a way to get rid of them all. Now, you know how to get rid of hornets without putting yourself in danger!

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