How to Protect Yourself from Wasps and Hornets in NC

Stinging insects can be a major problem in North Carolina, especially if they take up residence in or near your home. Wasps and hornets have aggressive traits and will sting when they feel threatened, such as when you startle them, get too close to their nest, or wave them away from food or drinks that you’re enjoying outside.

In addition, hornets and wasps have a tendency to build their nests at inconvenient spots around your property that can put you, your family, and your pets at risk. To safeguard your home, you need to understand the different types of hornets and wasps you might come across, how dangerous they are, as well as hornet and wasp pest control solutions that will safely remove the aggressive insects from your home.

Types of Wasps and Hornets in NC

Wasp near a home. Wasp Control in Charlotte

Many individuals use the words hornets and wasps interchangeably, but they are not the same- the word wasp is a broader term that includes hornets (here’s a thinker- all hornets are wasps but not all wasps are hornets! ????) Either way, the following are typical insect traits to help you identify the type of pests that are on your property. Knowledge is good and in this case it can be very helpful in understanding the pest you are running up against!


Other types of wasps are typically smaller than the hornet types, measuring less than an inch in size. Possibly the best known kind of wasp that most people have had unpleasant encounters with is the Yellowjacket. Unlike hornets, most wasps are solitary creatures. That said, the aforementioned Yellowjacket is actually social, which you might already unfortunately know if you’ve ever come across a nest. Most varieties of wasps actually do not sting, but until you know for sure it is safer to assume that the wasp buzzing around you is the stinging type. Although some wasps build nests out of paper in aerial locations, other types will build nests at ground level or underground. Wasps, like hornets, prey on other insects.


Hornets are flying insects and have retractable stingers that can be used more than once. They are social insects. Most often, hornets prey on other insects as their food sources. In the United States, there are only two true types of hornets: the European hornet and brown hornet. Hornets generally reach a mature length of 1-inch, but some hornets can measure even longer.

Hornet nests are large and constructed from paper pulp. To protect the nest, hornets build them in elevated locations though some build them underground. Many hornets will sting—especially when a nest is disturbed.

What Attracts Hornets and Wasps to NC Homes?

Hornets and wasps are attracted to North Carolina homes because they often have features that make them convenient for building nests. Since hornets and wasps often like to build aerial nests, they are lured to properties with eaves and overhangs, for example. Porches with ceilings are also popular spots for nest building.

Hornets and wasps may also be drawn to your property if it contains the raw materials they need to build a nest. Certain species of wasps- like paper wasps- use wood material to construct their nests, so homes with wood piles stored outdoors will attract the stinging insects. Once the wasps move in, the queen in the nest will be responsible for using the wood to make paper pulp.

Homes that already have large insect populations or standing water could also attract wasps and hornets because they provide steady food or water supplies. By controlling the number of bugs in your yard, you are reducing the chance of making it a hunting ground for stinging insects. When food and standing water is left in a yard, you are more likely to entice more bugs to the area.

Knowing if your home is prone to stinging bug invasions will put you on alert to watch out for these pests and take the proper steps for hornet and wasp pest control.

The Dangers of NC Hornets and Wasps

First aid steps for wasp and hornet stings infographicThe biggest concern regarding hornets and wasps is that they have the ability to sting humans and pets. Unlike bees, a wasp can sting multiple times, so even a single wasp can severely injure an individual by stinging repeatedly in a short time span. Although not as likely, wasps and hornets can also attack a victim together.

When stung, the stinger releases chemical toxins that cause pain and swelling at the site of the attack. The majority of people may only have a mild reaction, but there are individuals who are severely allergic and can go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock symptoms usually occur within a few minutes of being stung and can include:

  • Rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Allergic reactions to wasp and hornet stings are a medical emergency. If you or someone you’re with experiences a severe reaction to a sting, call 911 immediately. Epinephrine injections are required to reverse the effects of an allergic reaction. Without proper treatment, an allergic reaction to a hornet or wasp sting can be life threatening.

Children and pets are at high risk of getting stung by hornets and wasps. Young children may not know to avoid hornets and wasps, while many pets chase hornets and wasps and get stung in the process.

Wasps and hornets have territorial traits, making them ready to sting if they sense a threat. Wasps and hornets are especially prone to attack if someone attempts to touch or relocate their nests. Nests remain active until they are abandoned in the winter. After the winter, wasps and hornets won’t occupy the same nests, but they can return to the same area if they find a way to hibernate inside a residence. Homeowners should steer clear of any suspected nests and contact a local professional like Carolina Pest Management for assistance with hornet and wasp nest removal.

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First Aid for Stings

If a wasp or hornet does sting you, there is some basic first aid you can perform at home. As long as you’re not allergic, most stings can be treated with the following steps.

  • Remove the stinger. Unlike bee stings, wasps and hornets usually don’t leave behind a stinger since it is retractable. However, stingers can still break off at the site of the attack. If part of the stinger does become lodged in the skin, remove it with tweezers.
  • Clean the affected area. Use gentle soap and warm water to ensure the affected area and surrounding skin is clean. Dry the area completely with a soft towel. Try to remain still after cleaning the skin since movement can cause the venom to spread to other areas of the body.
  • Apply a cold compress. Wrap ice or an ice pack in a clean cloth and apply directly to the skin. Leave the ice in place for 10-minute intervals. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reapplying the ice.
  • Take over-the-counter medications as needed. Antihistamines can reduce symptoms such as swelling and irritation. Over-the-counter pain relievers will lessen discomfort from wasp and hornet stings.

The steps above work for stings when there is no adverse reaction. In other cases, you may need to contact a physician. The age and health condition of the person stung will help determine whether a doctor should be contacted for advice. Doctors should be consulted if children, the elderly, or those suffering from serious medical conditions are stung. Those with severe allergies to wasp or hornet stings will often need hospital treatment—even after an epinephrine injection.

Wasp and Hornet Pest Control Options

Wasp Nest. NC wasp and hornet pest control will remove nests.Most people with hornet and wasp problems prefer to have wasp and hornet exterminators treat and remove the nest. Professional pest control is a multi-step process. Homeowners can expect NC hornet control and wasp nest removal to perform the following tasks when called to a home:

Assessment: Professionals will not target individual hornets and wasps, but rather search for the wasp or hornet nest. The technician will evaluate the property to locate the sites of any nests.

Hornet and Wasp Removal: Once the nest is located, the technician will plan out a strategy to remove it from your property. The difficulty of the job largely depends on where the nest has been built. Wasp nests on the second story of a building or within an HVAC unit will be more difficult to remove than a nest located in a bush or tree. A professional North Carolina pest control technician will always know the safety regulations to follow when removing wasp or hornet nests. Protective gear is often needed to avoid stings.

Prevention: As part of your service contract, you will typically receive recommendations on how to keep wasps and hornets from returning to your home. Follow-up service visits may be needed depending on the severity of the infestation.

Common Wasp and Hornet Pest Control Mistakes

The most common mistakes we see with wasp and hornet removal is homeowners who tackle the task on their own, without proper instruction. DIY wasp and hornet nest removal is never recommended and trying to remove a nest without the proper gear and equipment is a surefire way to get stung. The following are things not to do when dealing with wasps and hornets on your property:

  • Don’t approach, evaluate, or try to remove or treat a nest during the day. Hornets and wasps are active during the day, making it the time you’re most likely to get stung.
  • Don’t spray a wasp or hornet nest with aerosol chemical treatments. Spraying a nest and then attempting to run away from the stirred up hornets and wasps is dangerous and increases your likelihood of being stung.
  • Don’t burn a nest. You may not be able to control the fire and this practice doesn’t always eradicate all wasps and hornets.
  • Don’t attempt to smash the nest. Using your hands or an object like a baseball bat will only provoke the wasps and make you a target for them.
  • Don’t spray the nest with a hose to flood the wasps and hornets out. This is an ineffective wasp removal technique and can cause structural damage in the area that the nest is located.
  • Don’t use bee traps for wasps or hornets since baiting these insects is more difficult.

If you must evaluate or treat hornet and wasp nests yourself, always seek professional advice before beginning, act at night, and use appropriate protective gear to reduce your likelihood of being stung.

Hornet and Wasp Prevention

We recommend working with wasp and hornet pest control experts to remove any nests from your property. Once you have removed the wasps and hornets, you don’t want them to return anytime soon. Work with your North Carolina exterminator to take measures to remove stinging insect attractants.

  • Inspect the exterior of the home for any cracks or holes that could be used by wasps or hornets for nest building. Make all necessary repairs.
  • Use screens to keep stinging insects outdoors. Confirm there are no possible entry points for wasps or hornets.
  • Keep all trash covered. Trash cans should not be placed near windows or doors.
  • Remove any sources of standing water. Standing water is a breeding ground for insects and will increase the food supply for wasps and hornets.
  • Prune bushes and low-hanging branches. Rake leaves and yard debris and dispose of it promptly.

NC Hornet Control and Wasp Control Services

At Carolina Pest Management, we have years of experience dealing with NC hornets and wasps. Our friendly and trained technicians will know the exact measures to take for wasp and hornet extermination to keep your property and family safe. Our goal is to keep your North Carolina home pest free for good. Contact us for more information on hornet and wasp control services.

By Kristin Dodd

Kristin Dodd, the President of Carolina Pest Management, has been with the company full-time for over 20 years, but has been a part of the family-owned business for much longer. She is currently an active board member of the North Carolina Pest Management Association, and was the President from 2010-2011. She is a licensed operator in...

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