Hornets are the largest wasps found in North America. They are often confused with yellow jackets thanks to the similarity in appearance. However, it is their size that distinguishes them from other wasps and bees. They feed on sugar-rich plants and nectar and as adults will attack other insects including honey bees, locusts and, grasshoppers as well as other wasps. Their venom is much stronger than their yellowjacket cousins and hornet stings can be very unpleasant and even dangerous as they attack as a nest. If you find a hornet nest, the best strategy is to leave it be, but if you need some home remedies to get rid of hornets, then read on.
Look for hornet nests in the low branches of trees or in tree trunk cavities. They often make their nest in the house wherever they find a dry structure. Attics, eaves and wall cavities are popular nesting sites.
Getting rid of hornets’ nest in a wall or chimney is no different than any natural nesting site, and the method used will depend on how accessible the nest is.
If you have trouble locating the nest, pay close attention to the direction of travel a hornet makes after feeding or at dusk. At these times, the direction of hornets will be straight back to the nest.
If you still can’t find the nest, put some bait out and watch their direction of travel after feeding. Move the bait 20 meters in the correct direction. Watch again the direction of the hornets that have fed. Repeat until you locate the nest.
Once you’ve found the nest, you should not attempt to dislodge or cut down the nest. The entire nest will attack en masse if you do.
The nest should be treated with pesticides. You can use commercial pesticides or there are natural pesticides listed below which are much kinder on other pollinating insects.
Spraying pesticide on a nest (either natural or not) is dangerous. The hornets may well attack in numbers and you must wear protective clothing before you attempt this.
Spray only during dawn or dusk as hornet activity is minimal during such times. Hornets are much more docile then and you are less likely to be attacked. If you can, spraying the nest at night minimizes the risks.
If you spray the nest at night, the hornets will attack the flashlight. This is great for the person doing the spraying but not so great for the assistant holding the flashlight.
Everybody needs to wear protective clothing.
- Hornet plank Trap
We think the ‘plank’ trap is one of the most efficient home remedies to get rid of hornets as it will kill hundreds of insects in a short time.
Take a small plank of wood and smear one side with a suitable bait. If you want to know what attracts hornets, be aware that they develop a ‘sweet tooth’ when fruit rots. So you should use jam/jelly during the fall and fishy/salmon cat food at all other times of the year.
Take a large flat baking dish and fill it with soapy water.
Place the plank of wood across the rim of the baking dish with the lure upside down. There should only be half an inch or so between the surface of the soapy water and the sticky bait.
The hornets, attracted to the bait will have to feed upside down. They will either fall off into the soapy water or fly off downwards towards a liquid end.
This simple hornet trap is a fantastic home remedy to get rid of hornets and will catch hundreds of insects in just a few hours, especially if placed next to the nest.
Note: it important to use soapy water as the soap breaks the surface tension of the water and ensures that the insects are quickly submerged.
- Hornet Bucket Trap
They are also useful as a way to keep the hornets away from your home. If you place the trap close to the nest, there is no need for the insects to forage close to home.
To set up a bucket trap you will need water, sugar, dish soap and, vinegar.
Add all the ingredients to the bucket and place it close to the nest. The smell of the vinegar will attract the hornets  to the bucket to drink and the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the water, so they easily fall in and are quickly submerged.
To make the trap even more effective, hang some rotting fruit, meat or fish from a tree branch over the bucket and vinegar.
Make sure the lure is close to the water. The hornets will be attracted to the bait for food or the vinegar liquid for water. Either way, they will often just fall off and drown in the bucket below.
The dual lure is not as effective as the plank trap but does keep the nest fully occupied so the hornets leave your family alone.
- Vacuum the Nest
Vacuuming the nest is one of the best home remedies to get rid of hornets . You can keep a safe distance but at the same time, kill all the hornets.
The ideal time to vacuum the hornets’ nest is at dusk as this is when most of the hornets will be in their nest.
It is recommended to use wet vacuum cleaners (shop vacuums) instead of dry vacuum cleaners. Hornets are drowned with a shop vacuum whereas in a dry vacuum you will have the tough job of disposing of live, angry hornets.
First, add some dish soap to the water in the vacuum.
Strap the hose to a ladder and carefully place the ladder near the entrance to the nest. Make sure the end of the hose is directly over the nest entrance.
Switch the vacuum on and keep a safe distance. Let the vacuum run for a few hours.
The hornets will attack the ‘noisy’ and ‘intruding’ hose and get sucked down.
On the first run, you should get 95% of the nest. Repeat the procedure the next day to pick up the stragglers. The lava will remain but will quickly starve, and after a few days, the nest can be disposed of at will.
If want to get rid of a hornets’ nest in a wall, perhaps a cavity wall in the house, then with this method, you DO NOT NEED to find the nest. For inaccessible nests where it is hard to apply poison, this remedy to get rid of hornets is ideal.
All you have to do is find their entrance point, mount the vacuum nearby and the nest will soon be vacant.
- Peppermint Oil
Studies have proved that essential oils are effective as pesticides .
Peppermint oil is often used as a home remedy to get rid of hornets.
Add the oil to water mixed with dish soap and use a garden pressure sprayer to spray into the entrance of the nest.
- Cedar Oil
Cedar oil dehydrates hornets and suffocates them to death. Again you can add the oil to water and dish soap to use as a hornet pesticide. The solution can be added to a garden sprayer to treat the nest.
The solution can be added to a garden sprayer to treat the nest.
- Neem Oil
The oil has a slightly different mechanism for killing hornets as the azadirachtin present in neem oil destabilizes the insect’s hormonal systems. Exposure to neem oil can impede the colonies ability to reproduce. (5).
Other essential oils that work for hornets include:
- Lavender oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Citronella oil
- Jojoba oil
- Tea tree oil
- Pennyroyal oil
- Lemon and Clove Hornet Deterrent
The smell of lemon and clove combined repels hornets. Cut a lemon in half and insert about a dozen cloves in each half. Put the lemon on a plate and place it in areas where hornet traffic is high.
- Boric Acid
It is non-toxic to humans but is deadly for a hornet nest.
Once you have located the nest, apply a large coating of the powder to the entrance of the nest. This will ensure that any hornet entering will brush against the powder, take it into the nest, and poison the insects inside.
Within a few days, the entire nest will have died allowing you to safely remove the nest.
- Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth consists of the tiny remains of fossilized algae-like plants.
The powder works to desiccate the hornets and should be applied in the same way as boric acid – i.e. the entrance to the nest needs a good dusting of the powder.
Both boric acid and DE dehydrate hornets and cause them death .
- Geranium, Clove and Lemongrass Hornet Deterrent
Studies have proved the efficiency of the mixture of clove, geranium, and lemongrass in repelling hornets . This is another hornet repellent to keep outdoor eating areas free.
Sprinkle the mixture in hornet nests and in areas where hornets frequent. Regular use of these oils keeps the hornets away.
- Grow Hornet Unfriendly Plants
Some of the few plants that repel hornets include wormwood, lemongrass, and mint. Grow these plants in your garden to prevent nesting of hornets.
How to Prevent Hornets From Nesting
Taking steps to prevent hornets from building nests saves you a great deal of trouble. Here are a few things you could do so hornets are discouraged from making your garden their home:
- Dispose of waste regularly. Keep your garbage cans thoroughly sealed.
- Trim your trees and bushes periodically.
- Discourage hornets by hanging artificial nests in your garden. Territorial hornets will not build nests in areas they feel are colonized by other hornets.
- Hornets are attracted to high-protein foods. Hence, never leave foods outside. Keep pet foods in containers and seal them. Compost piles also attract hornets.
How to remove a hornets’ nest
- Cover yourself as much as possible to prevent being stung by hornets. Tuck your pants into your socks so your lower body is completely covered. Wear a beekeepers hat or veil.
- Tackling a hornet’s nest is best done at night.
- Tackle nests that are easy for you to access.
- Have an escape plan ready should hornets attack after you treat their nest.
- Know how to treat a hornet sting
- Avoid pointing the flashlight directly on the nest as will disturb the hornets .
- Never make sudden movements near hornets if you want to avoid being stung.
- Never thrash hornets. If a hornet is thrashed, it will produce pheromones which incite the remaining colony to attack in self-defense of the nest.
- Never poke, dislodge or hit a nest