8 Ways To Get Rid Of Hornets

Hornets aren't the friendliest neighbors, so take caution if you spot one of their papery nests in your yard or (gulp) in indoor spaces like attics or basements. These are the type of bugs you don't want living in your home. A type of wasp, hornets are social insects that are particularly territorial of their domain, HowStuffWorks writes. If you approach a hornet nest or act aggressively toward them (like swatting them away), they will swarm and start stinging repeatedly. Given their larger size, they pack a bigger dose of venom, making their stings unpleasant.

While Treehugger argues that one can live peacefully alongside these waspy friends, many opt to send them packing. If you are allergic to hornet stings, don't attempt a DIY extraction. Instead, call in a professional and steer clear until the colony is gone. If you'd like to attempt to eradicate hornets yourself, there are a few approaches to try that don't involve harsh hornet insecticides. Here are eight that work in different situations.

Sugar bottle trap

You might not think that a hornet has a sweet tooth, but they are indeed fans of sugar. It's what attracts them to your backyard barbecues, which you'd probably prefer they didn't attend. According to Kitchn, wasps especially crave sugar in late summer and early fall, making them more susceptible during that time to the sweet scent a sugar trap will waft their way.

The only things you'll need to set this hornet trap are a plastic soda bottle (12-oz is fine, or 2-liter for a larger-sized trap), sugar, and water. First, cut the top 1/4 of the plastic bottle off (the part you pour from and a few inches below). Flip it over and insert it into the bottom half so the "spout" is facing down. Duct tape it in place. Next, dissolve 2 parts sugar with 1 part water and pour it inside. Place it outside, away from areas you usually hang out, but where wasps will easily reach it. Plant Care Today recommends coating the "spout" part with a bit of oil if wasps figure out how to fly out.

Vinegar trap

If your sugar trap attracts beneficial insects like honey bees, you can try a similar method using vinegar. Expert Pest Control suggests creating the same bottle trap (where you cut the top 1/4 off a soda bottle, flip it upside down, and insert it inside the bottom part), but pour in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar along with a drop of liquid dish soap. Next, add something to lure the hornets into your trap, like raw meat dangling from a string, or 1 cup of sugar mixed into the vinegar solution. Hang or place it where the hornets like to hang out.

An alternate method for trapping them using apple cider vinegar is by using a bucket. Mix apple cider vinegar with sugar water and add dish soap. Hornets that fall into the water won't be able to escape once the soap coats their wings. LoveToKnow also suggests using protein bate to make this method even more effective.

Peppermint spray

When hornets are hovering nearby while you're outdoors, the scent of peppermint will encourage them to buzz off. Tips Bulletin writes that mixing 2 cups of water with 30 drops of peppermint essential oil, then mixing in 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle will create a powerful solution you can spray at hornets or around areas they like to visit. Plant Care Today also recommends leaving out peppermint-soaked cotton balls to discourage hornets from sticking around (though you'll have to replace these often). Tuck them into eaves or crevices they've tried to nest in the past.

To really add a punch to your peppermint spray that will take down a nest, create a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar. Mix in 20 drops of peppermint essential oil per 1 ounce of the solution, as well as 1 tablespoon of dish detergent per 1 cup of it. Wasps sleep after dark, and you'll want to approach the nest when they're not active. Spray the solution in powerful bursts onto the nest (without bursting it open) until it's soaked, and repeat in the area to repel future nest-building.

Borax

Borax is deadly to hornets, making it a relatively inexpensive solution to eradicate the pests. If you're tired of them ruining your yardHomeSteady recommends creating tempting bate by mixing equal parts borax with something sweet and sticky, like honey or corn syrup. Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto old lids and place them near their nest. The sweet substance will poison hornets, but borax can also be harmful to pets and other animals, so make sure they can't reach your mixture. Also, remove dead wasps from the ground so pets can't decide to nibble on them.

Best Plants writes that diatomaceous earth pesticides (derived from tiny fossilized aquatic organisms) will also kill wasps by causing them to dry out, and talcum powder and cinnamon will repel them. Sprinkle whichever powder you choose near the entrance of nests (where the hornets fly in and out), especially if they are located in walls or underground.

Submerge nests

Another way to manage hornet nests is to drown them out. Eartheasy says you can submerge aerial nests if you carefully remove them. After dark, when the colony is resting, approach the nest carefully and cover it completely with a cloth bag. Quickly tie off the top so hornets cannot escape. Put the bag in a bucket of water and weigh it down, so it sinks.

They don't recommend flooding (or burning) an open or underground nest with water since angry hornets can escape and attack. But Tips Bulletin notes that their wings will be coated if you add soap to the water, making it harder for them to escape. They write that you can mix boiling water with liquid dish soap for ground nests. Add it to a watering can that can withstand heat and quickly pour it into the nest entrance at night. If you can, block the opening with a bowl or bucket and skedaddle. You won't want to be around to feel their wrath if they fly out.

Vacuum them up

Indoor wasp infestations, like in attics, are extra creepy. One trick to removing them from enclosed spaces is to simply vacuum them up. Per Tips Bulletin, if you have a shop vac handy, you're halfway there. Add water and dish soap to the shop vac's tub. Put on protective clothing and approach the nest when the hornets aren't active. Place the nozzle near the nest, turn it on, and leave the space.

Cottage Life says that the soapy water inside the vacuum will attract the hornets, and they'll get sucked in once they approach it, drowning once inside. You'll need to run the shop vac for a few hours to clear out as many hornets as possible. If the nest is high up, they recommend fastening a pole or mop handle to the vacuum's hose with bungee cords and leaning it against a wall, with the nozzle pointed toward the nest.

Make your yard less hornet-friendly

To make sure hornets stay away, you'll need to make your yard less hospital to them. Discourage them from setting up a nest in or around your home by hanging fake wasp nests. Treehugger writes that given their territorial nature, they'll want to space themselves out if they think other wasps set up shop. You can buy fake nests, and even hanging a paper bag might do the trick.

Plants that repel wasps include peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, and thyme, according to Plant Care Today. They also recommend hanging a baggy filled with water and a penny to scare them off because when the penny catches the light, hornets could mistake it for a spider web. Old CDs, mirrors, or reflective mobiles might also do the trick (via Expert Pest Control). If your yard has fruit trees, clean up fallen fruit before it begins to rot and ferment. HowStuffWorks writes that hornets will eat the fruit and become aggressive toward people and pets afterward. Finally, Eartheasy says to patch up holes in screens and seal cracks or gaps around vents, doorframes, eaves, and windows, so they don't have easy access to your home.

Call in the pros

There are many benefits to leaving hornet removal to the pros. This is a no-brainer if you're allergic to their stings, but it also makes sense if you aren't sure where the colony resides, are dealing with a nest positioned somewhere high, or don't want to risk getting stung by a hoard of angry insects. Large or hard-to-reach nests can be particularly dangerous. Loyal Termite & Pest Control does not recommend taking on a nest larger than a fist by yourself. Working with exterminators may also nip the infestation in the bud for good if hornets return often.

Find a reliable exterminator and ask how they remove hornets and what chemicals they use. If you have pets or small children, ensure the area is cleaned up before accessing it. Dead hornets shouldn't be left lying around, especially if harsh insecticides killed them. Keep these tips in mind, and your hornet infestation should be over in no time.