Paper Wasps Won’t Re-Use Their Old Nests

By Chris Williams on October 1, 2015.

We have several of those umbrella-shaped wasp nests under our roof overhang. They look like they’re empty now, I don’t see any more wasps visiting. The nests are up pretty high and I don’t want my husband to get up on a ladder to remove them. When the wasps come back to the nests next year, what should we do?

M. V., Harvard, MA

You’ll be happy to hear that wasps don’t re-use their old nests. You’re talking about paper wasps that build open-combed nests that look somewhat like an umbrella missing its handle. Paper wasp nests are fairly small, with 100 wasps at the most, usually many less. In fall, the worker paper wasps die but the old nest produces a few queens that are destined to spend the winter and build new nests next spring.

If you don’t mind looking at them, leaving the nests in place won’t hurt anything. They will eventually be torn apart or knocked down by weather or animals. But be forewarned that the queens from those nests might end up building their new nests in the same general area. The spot obviously has all the right stuff — the shady, protected location that the wasps look for when siting a nest. See Why Do Wasps Like My House? – Part I.


Paper Wasp Queens May Be Your Winter Guests

You may see paper wasps trying to get into your house to spend the winter. The mated queens find protected places to overwinter and often end up in homes, particularly in attics. You probably wouldn’t see them until spring when they might appear in living spaces while looking for a way to get back outside. They’ve also been known to move around sluggishly on unusually warm days in the middle of winter. They’re not aggressive at this time. See I’ve Got Wasps Inside in February!

If you see paper wasps or any other fall-invading insects trying to get into your home this fall, give Colonial a call. We can treat the exterior perimeter of your home to intercept these intruders. Next spring, if you see paper wasp nest building, be prepared to contact us for an early intervention (see Should You Remove That Wasp’s Nest Now?). Wasp nests are much easier to remove when done early. We can also treat the site to prevent future nest building. Give Colonial Pest a call next spring!



We’re not satisfied until you are. Learn More