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Pest Control/wasps in winter


QUESTION: hi Jack,
    For the last few weeks we have seen a few wasps in the house (5 total). Only one was flying, the others crawling along very slowly. My exterminator could not find a nest anywhere, and I'm not sure it's even warm enough for one...I'm in Massachusetts and it's been a very cold spring (today it snowed!) from what I've read online it seems they could be overwintering paper wasps?  Is there anything I can do? Will they go,outside on their own or are they going to nest inside?

I look forward to your response

Thank you!

ANSWER: Kristin,

You are probably correct, these are paper wasps coming out of winter dormancy. They won't build a nest inside so you can dispatch them to the "great wasp beyond" or toss them outside (keep in mind that they may be the invasive European paper wasp, see for info).

Jack DeAngelis

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     Thank you for your response. Is the case the same for either type? When the weather finally warms will they simply go outside? I am quite nervous having them in the house as I have a 3 year old. Any tips of his to get rid of them or prevent them in the future is appreciated.

ANSWER: The wasps are probably trapped inside so you'll need to either kill them or take them outside. If they are yellowjackets rather than paper wasps it is possible that there is an old nest from last year in an exterior wall. If you post a picture I could tell you which one you have, I'll need a clear picture.

Jack DeAngelis

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QUESTION: This is the only picture I have and its flipped over so not sure if it helps...

Can't tell for sure, the image is too dark to see color patterns. However, it does not look like a yellowjacket in terms of overall body shape. If you find more try to get a photo that shows colors from the top side and I'll take another look.

Jack DeAngelis

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions about the control of pest insects, spiders, mites and related arthropods. These household pests include termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, nuisance ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, wasps, and many others. I can also answer questions about using pesticides and other pest control tools such as baits and traps.


I am a retired university extension entomologist. I've taught and conducted research in urban and agricultural entomology. I've published over 70 extension publications, 20 research publications and several books about insects.

Ph.D. in Entomology

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