How to get rid of wasps

Wasps are probably the insect that causes the most concern in New Zealand. Wasp stings hurt and they can be dangerous! Preventing wasps building nests in the first place is the best form of control and can be achieved quite easily with some good home maintenance and the correct wasp control products. Due to the safety concerns, removing wasp nests can be a lot more difficult. However, with the new PestXpert Wasp Jet Long Reach aerosol, homeowners can deal with many wasp nests with confidence.

However, safety should always be your first concern and if you are not confident in dealing with it yourself, call your council or a professional, especially if you suspect you may have German or European wasps.






There are four species of pest wasp in New Zealand, all introduced species; the Australian and Asian paper wasps, and the German and European wasps. These are all social insects, meaning they build large nests and have a complicated colony structure. They all have a similar appearance; large insects with a narrow “waist”, an abdomen that narrows to a point (this is where the sting is!) and have warning colourations (red, yellow and black).

  • Australian paper wasp: Build nests under eaves, the underside of branches and leaves. Nests have an open structure (you can see the wasps resting and the nest structure), are normally quite small (maximum 100-200 wasps) and hang by a stalk. They tend not be aggressive, only stinging when defending their nest. Size: up to 2.5cm. They tends to have orange / brown stripes and so are more easily distinguished from the other pest species. Generally confined to the North Island.
  • Asian paper wasp: A recent arrival in New Zealand ( late 1970s), it is very similar to the Australia paper wasp in temperament, behaviour, nest size and structure. However, it has a black and yellow colouration, which can cause it to be confused with the European and German wasps. 
  • European and German wasps: These bright yellow and black striped wasps are capable of forming very large nests of up to 100,000 individuals! The majority of nests are found in the ground (80%), often visible only by a hole (with wasps flying in and out), with the remainder of nests found in buildings (roof spaces, wall voids and eaves). They also build nests under exposed compost heaps. The nest consists of a number of cells forming combs (similar to a honey bee), although they are not often visible as the nest is covered by a protective paper covering. Both European wasps (also called the common wasp) and German wasps are not openly aggressive to humans but individual wasps will readily sting if trapped. They will also defend their nest aggressively, especially if disturbed, with many wasps attacking at the same time, delivering multiple stings. Size: 1 – 1.5cm. Both species are found throughout New Zealand.

The type of wasp nest can also help in identification.

There are also a number of native wasps in New Zealand. These are a number of solitary, native wasps, many of which live in burrows in the ground. These wasps can be very large – the giant ichneumon wasp can be up to 10cm long – but are not a danger to humans. There are no native, social wasp species in New Zealand that can make large nests that become a pest problem.


  • Signs of a paper wasp nest is normally the observation of a nest hanging off the eaves or a plant.
  • European and German wasp nests are sometimes harder to locate. If you see wasps around, check your property for nests as they generally only travel 50 – 250m from the nest.


  • Wasps tend to hibernate during the winter. Emerging to start a new nest in spring. 
  • As the temperature warms up, food becomes more plentiful and the nest expands, reaching its maximum size in late summer / autumn. 
  • Sexually active males (drones) and females (queens) are produced which mate. The new queens fly away from the nest to hibernate in late Autumn
  • If the conditions are warmer than normal, the queen may not hibernate and the nest may not die back during winter, meaning it has a big head start the following year and can result in extremely large nests. Warm roof voids are an ideal location!


  • Paper wasps mainly feed on protein, capturing caterpillars for their young
  • European and German wasps eat protein (meat) but also are highly attractive to sugar foods. Wasps around rubbish, picnic areas and especially soft drink cans are a major problem.
  • Single wasp stings can normally be treated by a cold pack and pain killers if required. However, if you suffer from allergies or receive multiple stings you should seek medical help immediately, as you could suffer an anaphylatic shock


  • Trim back bushes and over-hanging branches from the perimeter of your home.
  • Carry out regular inspections of the perimeter of your building and gardens for wasp activity and signs of early nest building, especially in spring.
  • Ensure rubbish bins are closed and food is not left unattended (including pet food). Also make sure that any composting is carried out in containers.


  • To target individual wasps, standard aerosols are the best option. Make sure the wasp gets a good dose and leave the area – they tend to get angry when sprayed!
  • To prevent wasps building nests around on the outside of your home, spray the perimeter of your home (especially the eaves) with insecticide. Normally a ready to use pump pack is best suited for the job.
  • For direct treatment of nests, spray with PestXpert Wasp Jet Long Reach aerosol. (See safety considerations below).


  • PestXpert Pro-Spray Crawling and Pro-Spray Flying are good options to target the occasional wasp that flies in the home, although actually Pro-Spray Crawling provides the fastest performance due to its high solvent level.
  • For treating exterior surfaces to prevent wasps building nests, Pro-Spray Outdoor Perimeter will give lasting protection. The 1 m wand on Pro-Spray Outdoor Perimeter will allow high places such as eaves to be reached safely.
  • For direct nest treatment use PestXpert Wasp Jet Long Reach aerosol. With a spray range of up to 6m and high volume output, nests can be coated with insecticide quickly, from a distance. 

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: For direct treatment of nests can be dangerous, especially for European wasps due to their aggressive nature. In addition European wasps often build their nests underground, which makes it difficult to make sure you hit the nest with the insecticide. You may not know the size of the nest, especially if it is underground, making it difficult to know how much insecticide to use. As such it is recommended that PestXpert Wasp Jet only to be used against exposed, above ground wasp nests such as paperwasp nests or small European or German wasp nests.

To spray a wasp nest, spray in the evening or at night – all the wasps should be in the nest and they will be calmer (until you spray!). Make sure you have suitable safety clothing on and have a quick escape route (standing on a ladder is not a good idea). If you need to use a touch, put a red filter in front of the light – insects cannot see red light and so will not be disturbed. When you spray the nest, make sure you spray to excess, coating the whole nest and as many wasps as possible. If you are at all unsure, contact your local council or a pest professional.