Entomology (Study of Bugs)/paper wasps


QUESTION: What suggestions can you offer to capture/eliminate paper wasps in a large indoor space?  There are hundreds inside our newly built but unfinished metal church building (insulation up but no sheetrock yet.  We spent Sunday service continuosly shooing them away from ourselves and each other - they seemed particularly fond of landing on heads (especially women's).  Are homemade traps I've seen described the answer?  There are hundreds congregated on the 24 ft ceiling, plus many swarming in the sunny windows.  Thanks for your help!

ANSWER: Diane,

How are the wasps getting inside? Were they trapped there when the building was enclosed during construction? Are you certain they are paper wasps? Post a follow up and I'll help you figure this out.

Jack DeAngelis

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QUESTION: Not 100 per cent sure of the identification, though they look like internet images we have seen of paper wasps. We are familiar with paperwasp nests; however, in this case, no nests have been observed. We are also familiar with other types of bees/wasps found in this area, such as yellow jackets & baldfaced hornets, and of course honeybees & bumblebees, and believe these to be paperwasps, though the absence of nests is puzzling to us. The initial erection of the church building was approx. 6 years ago and we have been finishing the interior as finances are available.  Have never before had any large number of insects of any type inside until now, and do not know how they are getting in.  These wasps only appeared within the last 1-2 weeks at the church, within a similar time frame that they have been appearing in unusually/atypically large numbers in this area in general. At a local property where my husband is caretaker (a large log home) there are hundreds around the exterior of the house. He has seen no nests either, just the wasps flying around and crawling on the structure and into cracks and crevices. The absence of nests makes it impossible for him to eliminate them by spraying, and he is considering possible need to call an exterminator.   I'm sorry I don't have an image to send - I do not have a computer at home, so am using the one at work.  I am not familiar with photo-uploading, but could possibly get some assistance in getting an image to you in the next few days within the next few days if you want one.

A couple of possibilities - there's a relatively new paper wasp species in the US called the European paper wasp (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/epw.html) that looks like a yellowjacket but has the longer hind legs typical of other paper wasps. The European species can occur in much larger numbers than the native paper wasp species and tends to be a bit more aggressive as well. If you can get a picture I could confirm the id. If these are paper wasps the traps won't work because they are not attracted to the trap lure. They must be getting into the church through attic or soffit vents. Is there a shake roof on the church? This species seems to be particularly attracted to roofs that have a lot of small crevices like a cedar shake roof. The roof vents will need to be screened to keep the wasps out. I suspect they are entering the church in search of water (not salvation :)). Let me know about what the roof is made of and how it is vented if you know.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Ph.D. in Entomology

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