guinea wasp in naturewhat a guinea wasp looks like

All About Guinea Wasps And How To Get Rid Of Them

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By Johnny Bevers

Have you ever been stung by a Guinea Wasp?  I have, and the first time it happened when I was a boy…  I’ve never forgotten that experience and I remember exactly the circumstance and how painful the sting really was.  As much as many of us may wish ill upon insects such as wasps however, they do play a vital role within the earth’s ecology.  For those who may be familiar with “guinea wasps,” the following information has every objective of educating you further about what these wasps are and perhaps more importantly how to avoid them and/or get rid of them when the situation calls for such.

About Guinea Wasps

guinea wasp hive

Polistes exclamans (also known as paper wasps or guinea wasps) are found as far north as Ontario, Canada, in New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Texas as well as other southern states and even into northern Mexico.  They tend to be confused with yellow jacket wasps because of their similar appearance such as the black and yellow markings.  Guinea wasps have an abdomen that is black and yellow striped and have a reddish colored head.  The wings have a brown tint about them as well.  They are commonly more known as paper wasps because of the large paper-like nests that they build.  In size, they are usually 3/4 to a full inch in length.

guinea wasp in house

It is believed that these wasps have migrated from southern tropical climates to the further north mainly because of global climate changes and temperature.  The further south you go, the more diverse they will now tend to be. Guinea wasp nests are often created and built in sheltered locations such as under mail boxes, porches, eaves of houses, above doorways and even on and around playground equipment.  In building their nests they mix the fibers of plants from dead wood or other vegetation and mix it with spittle.  Each paper nest will contain an average of about twenty wasps and they can deliver a terribly painful sting to intruders.  Guinea wasps are attracted mainly to things that are sweet such as lotions, perfumes, cosmetics, food and the nectar from plants.  It’s not uncommon to see them around garbage cans or when you are outdoors having a picnic especially with sugary drinks and desserts.  They in fact prefer eating spiders, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, insects and other dead animals that they come across from time-to-time.

How To Exterminate Or Keep Guinea Wasps Away

guinea wasp close up on hive

Before you get blood thirsty for death to all wasps, you might want to seriously consider whether or not the ones you may have around your home are worth disturbing.  After all, just like animals in the wild, if they are really not causing any threat to you or anyone in the home, why not leave them alone and let nature take its course with them?  Don’t forget that they do eat annoying caterpillars and other plant pests that might otherwise harm your garden or flower beds.  But on the other side of the coin, if you or someone in your home has allergies to wasp stings, then you may have very little choice.  Depending on whether or not the first generation of worker wasps have reached “adulthood” then you can try knocking down a nest you find around your home, sweep it away safely and therefore in the process send a message to the queen wasp that she should go elsewhere to begin generating a home.

If the nest contains adult wasps then you will need to get “violent” and should go about this task with much more caution. If you decide to take action and get rid of an active wasp nest then be sure to do it at night rather than the daytime.  The reason for this is that most of the workers will be out and about and you won’t get rid of them this way.  The first step you should take is to change into some clothing that will safeguard you from wasp stings such as longer pants, a heavy jacket and hat, plus some gloves.  If you do have something that can protect your face then you should wear it as well.

guinea wasp inside beer mug outside

Next, if you’re going to exterminate all the wasps you can find then pick up some commercial wasp spray that is labeled specifically for wasps and hornets.  With certain chemical or commercial sprays there are bi-laws to abide by, so be sure you’re aware of any before you start any big spraying jobs.  When you begin to attack the nest and the wasps you should be able to do so from a safe distance away.  Be sure to layer the chemical spray onto the nest and cover all cells and areas of it.  You should expect several wasps to start flying out and dropping from the nest around this time so don’t get too close to it all.

If the nest hasn’t fallen down in the process of spraying, you should check it the following day to ensure that there is no more wasp movement or activity going on in or around it.  If you deem everything safe, then you should proceed with removing the nest carefully and appropriately with a long handled tool or a broom (just to be on the safe-side).  A garbage bag you can seal or other type of secure bag should do the trick for this job.

guinea wasps

If you are the type of person who wants to avoid killing anything then there are solutions for you as well, so please don’t get down in the dumps about wasp issues.  The first thing you might want to consider is the items that attract the wasps.  Keep any kind of food indoors and if you have pet food that you keep outdoors, just make sure it’s all sealed securely to minimize any odors from being released and the food will be spared as well. Don’t forget to keep any garbage cans sealed that you might also be keeping outside.  If you like to feed hummingbirds with your very own feeder then know that you will be risking an attraction to wasps as well.

For natural repellent solutions, get yourself some nice cucumber, slice it up and put it around the locations where you fear that wasps may be attracted to the most.  The specific acid within the cucumbers is very displeasing to wasps and therefore they will avoid the region it’s in.  If you want to get a little psychological with the wasps then you can get yourself a small brown paper bag or one that may resemble a wasp’s nest and hang it up.  Wasps are very territorial creatures and if they see something that they may think is another nest, they will avoid the area.

how to get rid of guinea wasps hive

These are things that you can do but there are also things you can avoid doing.  Consider the color of flowers and how wasps are attracted to them.  Avoid wearing bright colors that wasps may confuse for a flower.  If you see wasps around you then don’t go swatting at them.  If you kill a wasp then the smell released from it may in fact attract more.  Finally, you can avoid wearing perfumes or anything else that smells sweet enough to attract some wasps to your attention.

The internet also contains information about how to make homemade wasp sprays and the like for you to try. The video below is all about using a natural toxic chemical free way to repel wasps.

As always, we appreciate your time and hope to have helped.  Thanks!

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  • Tilmon Hocutt

    On the bright side if you can kill the adults, the larva in the nest make great fish bait.