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How do you find a yellow jacket nest in the wall?

Yellow jackets building nests inside walls of homes is a common problem many homeowners face. Locating these hidden nests can be tricky, but is important to address the issue before it escalates. Here are some tips on how to find a yellow jacket nest hiding inside your walls and get rid of it safely.

Signs of Nests Inside Walls

The first step is looking for signs of yellow jacket activity in or around your home. Some indicators that a nest may be inside your walls include:

  • Seeing more yellow jackets flying in and out of small cracks or holes in walls
  • Hearing buzzing sounds coming from inside the walls
  • Noticing yellow jackets congregating at a certain part of the exterior wall
  • Getting stung by yellow jackets while near walls
  • Finding dead yellow jackets around baseboards or windows
  • Spotting yellow jacket droppings which look like sawdust near cracks or holes

Pay attention to areas where you notice these signs of activity as that helps pinpoint potential nesting sites. The insects may be entering and exiting the nest through tiny unseen gaps.

Inspecting Exterior Walls

Take a close look at the outside of walls around your property. Yellow jackets often build nests in wall voids or hollow spaces, so check for:

  • Cracks, holes, or crevices on exterior siding or trim boards
  • Gaps around window frames, door frames, soffits, vents, pipes or wiring holes
  • Spaces between stacked bricks or stones
  • Cracks in stucco siding
  • Weep holes in brick walls
  • Areas where walls meet roof lines

Use a bright flashlight to peer inside any small openings. You may be able to spot the papery gray nest tucked deep inside.

Listening for Buzzing

Since yellow jackets make a distinct buzzing sound, you can use your ears to help locate nests inside walls. Here’s how:

  • Go inside the home and turn off any noisy appliances like TVs or radios.
  • Make sure the house is as quiet as possible.
  • Walk along interior walls slowly, listening for buzzing coming from inside.
  • Use a stethoscope or long screwdriver to press against walls and help amplify sounds.
  • Focus on areas where you’ve already noticed signs of activity.
  • Have someone watch exterior side of wall for exiting yellow jackets.

This method works best on quiet evenings when yellow jacket activity increases inside nests. The buzzing sound should lead you right to the source inside walls.

Looking for Stains

Yellow jackets flying in and out of nests indoors can sometimes leave behind stains, dirt marks or grease spots around entry points. Some areas to check closely include:

  • Ceiling corners near walls
  • Tops of interior walls near the ceiling
  • Attics or basements for signs near floor and ceiling joints
  • Around plumbing pipes that penetrate walls
  • Near electrical wiring holes
  • On siding or sheathing of exterior walls

Stains may be faint but can indicate locations where yellow jackets pass through. Combined with other signs, it can help pinpoint the nest spot.

Probing with a Wire

One method to help locate hidden yellow jacket nests is using a thin wire to probe any suspected entry points:

  1. Cut a wire clothes hanger and straighten it out.
  2. Bend one end to a gentle 90 degree angle.
  3. Slide the wire into any cracks or holes where you’ve spotted activity.
  4. Gently move the wire around inside the wall void while covering the exterior hole with your hand.
  5. If the wire touches the nest, it will disturb the yellow jackets inside prompting them to buzz loudly.
  6. Mark the spot where you hear increased buzzing sounds.

Just be sure to protect your hand covering the hole in case aggravated wasps fly out. This technique allows you to pinpoint nest locations without having to cut open walls.

Using an Endoscope Camera

One of the most effective tools for inspecting inside wall voids is a small endoscope camera that can fit into tiny access points. Here’s how it works:

  • Purchase a relatively inexpensive USB endoscope camera online or at hardware stores.
  • Look for one with a thin cable and small lens diameter, like 0.5 inches.
  • Connect camera to a smartphone, tablet or computer to view live video feed.
  • Insert camera into any small gaps where you suspect a nest to be.
  • Carefully push cable inside wall while viewing the video output.
  • Maneuver the camera around voids and pockets looking for the nest.

The video camera allows you to thoroughly inspect wall interiors for nest locations without unnecessary demolition of walls in multiple places.

Thermal Imaging

Using a thermal imaging camera is another non-destructive way to identify hidden yellow jacket nests inside walls:

  • Yellow jacket nests emit heat as the insects buzz around inside.
  • This heat signature can pass through walls and registers on thermal cameras.
  • Look for rentals of professional-grade thermal imaging equipment.
  • Slowly scan the camera along exterior walls looking for hot spots.
  • Mark areas showing elevated heat levels inside walls.

Professional pest control companies often utilize thermal imaging to pinpoint nest locations. It works well for finding colonies hidden deep inside house walls.

Cutting Small Inspection Holes

If you are still unsure of the exact nest location, carefully cutting small holes in the wall for inspection can help uncover it:

  • Only use this method as a last resort if needed.
  • Choose discreet locations like inside closets to minimize visible wall damage.
  • Use a drywall knife to cut a small 2-3 inch square hole in the wall.
  • Shine a flashlight inside to look for the nest.
  • Wear protective clothing in case yellow jackets emerge from the nest.
  • Patch and repair the opening after confirming nest location.

Limit this to just one or two exploratory holes before locating the nest. Multiple large holes will just create added work repairing your walls later.

When to Call an Exterminator

Here are some situations when it is advisable to contact a licensed exterminator to handle removal of yellow jackets inside walls:

  • If you have an allergy to bee or wasp stings
  • If there are multiple nests located around the property
  • If nests are inside ceilings or high on exterior walls
  • If you disturb the nest and are attacked by aggressive yellow jackets
  • If you are uncomfortable performing the work yourself

Professional exterminators have specialized tools and knowledge to remove nests safely. They can also treat the area to prevent future yellow jacket infestations.

Safety Tips

Use extreme caution when trying to locate and remove yellow jacket nests yourself:

  • Protect yourself with long sleeves, pants, gloves and secure footwear.
  • Have an epinephrine autoinjector like an EpiPen ready in case of allergic reactions.
  • Work slowly and carefully when disturbing nests.
  • Have someone with you who can help provide medical care if needed.
  • Avoid plugging or sealing nest entry points until the nest is removed.
  • Conduct work at night when yellow jacket activity is lower.
  • Keep pets and children away from treatment areas.

It is a good idea have professional yellow jacket nest removal and treatment scheduled as a backup plan before starting any do-it-yourself methods involving walls.

Treatment Options

Once you have pinpointed the location of yellow jacket nests inside walls, here are some treatment options:

Remove and Replace Siding

For nests in external wall voids, carefully removing sections of siding allows direct access to the nest for removal. This may involve:

  • Cutting out a section of vinyl or aluminum siding
  • Unscrewing fiber cement or wood panels
  • Taking out brick or stone sections

This allows you to remove and discard the nest, vacuum out any remaining yellow jackets, and install new insect-proof barriers. But it requires replacing the siding pieces removed.

Drill and Inject Insecticide

Without fully opening walls, nests can be eliminated by:

  1. Drilling a small hole into the nest cavity.
  2. Inserting the nozzle of a aerosol pyrethroid insecticide.
  3. Filling the void with insecticide to kill nest occupants.
  4. Sealing the opening with caulk.

The key is carefully mapping the nest location first. Then use long-residual sprays that keep killing yellow jackets that enter afterwards.

Apply Insecticide Dust

Cellulose dust insecticides like deltamethrin can also eliminate nests inside walls:

  1. Locate all entry points used by foraging yellow jackets.
  2. Puff small amounts of dust into these openings using an applicator.
  3. The bees spread the dust throughout the nest when entering and exiting.
  4. Seal the entry points with caulk after treatment.

The insecticide dust is slow acting but effective. It also provides residual activity killing yellow jackets over an extended period as they contact treated void surfaces.

Apply Residual Sprays

For nests inside interior walls, residual sprays can be applied into wall voids without drilling:

  • Remove electrical outlet or switch plates on treated walls.
  • Spray insecticide into these openings to reach nesting areas.
  • Foam sprays work well to distribute the product throughout wall voids.
  • Replace the plates afterwards and caulk small gaps if needed.

The spray is absorbed into framing wood providing lasting control. The yellow jackets spread the pesticide throughout the colony entering and exiting the nest.


In difficult cases, professional pest control applicators may fumigate inside wall voids to eliminate yellow jacket nests. This involves:

  • Sealing off the wall section with tarps and tape.
  • Releasing a fumigant gas like sulfuryl fluoride into the void space.
  • Leaving the area contained for recommended period.
  • Aerating out the fumigant before removing tarps.

When performed properly by an experienced technician, fumigation penetrates deep inside wall spaces to kill nests without needing to open up walls.

Prevention Tips

To help prevent future yellow jacket nests inside walls:

  • Seal cracks, holes and gaps in exterior walls, around windows and pipes.
  • Install fine metal mesh screens on vents and weep holes.
  • Keep eaves and soffits in good repair.
  • Caulk around electrical boxes and fixtures on exterior walls.
  • Apply residual insecticide sprays in wall voids and around potential entry points.
  • Remove any woodpiles or debris resting against walls.
  • Keep ground vegetation and plants trimmed away from foundation walls.

Ask a pest management professional about preventative treatments to reduce yellow jacket nest establishment. Stopping them from invading walls in the first place is the best approach!


Dealing with a yellow jacket nest inside the walls can be challenging but taking a systematic approach helps locate the nest accurately. Focus on areas where you observe activity and use multiple techniques like listening for buzzing, probing with a wire and inserting a camera inside wall voids. Once confirmed, nest removal and insecticide treatment of the interior wall space will provide control. With some detective work and proper protective gear, the problem can be solved without major home disruption.