Wasp Nest Identification | Pest Control

What’s in The Guide?

If you’ve encountered a hive-like paper structure on the side of your house, it’s most likely a wasp nest. But before you go poking around, taking some time to learn the basics of wasp nest identification will help ensure your safety.

Wasp Nest Types

Wasps are incredible engineers that use resources in their habitat to create elaborate homes. These nests differ slightly from wasp to wasp, mostly in the size of the structure and the materials used to create them. The factors that influence nest size and materials include:

  • the wasp species
  • location
  • whether the wasp is social or solitary

However, most nests do share some commonalities. Whether we’re talking about hornets, mud daubers, yellowjackets, or paper wasps, all species construct shelters using an elementary paper made from saliva mixed with chewed wood.

To help you with wasp nest identification, here are the most common types of wasp nest and some information about what they look like.


Yellowjackets are often mistaken for honeybees due to their similar appearance. However, yellowjackets are much more aggressive and will defend their nest quite viciously. It’s best to avoid a yellow jacket nest if you find one and leave removal to the professionals.

How do you identify them? Yellow Jacket nests are gray and have a paper mache-like appearance. They differ from other nests in that they are enclosed. There’s just one entrance from the outside that leads to layers of cells inside. These nests can be aerial or ground nests. Yellowjackets especially like building in attics, under raised foundations, and in the ground.

Paper Wasp

The nest of the paper wasp is one of the most recognizable types. True to their name, these nests look like paper, and they’re quite lightweight. They’re gray, circular, and rather flat, and they somewhat resemble the honeycomb of bees. Paper wasps will build their nests in many places, such as trees, attics, walls, and under raised foundations.

This wasp is social, and it’s less aggressive than yellow jackets. However, it will defend its nest if it feels threatened, so be careful when coming in close contact with one.


Hornets are often confused for wasps, but hornets are larger and much more aggressive. Their nests resemble the yellow jacket and paper wasp nests described previously. They can reach considerable size, and their spherical appearance resembles a football. Hornets always construct their nest above ground, typically in attics, wall cavities, or inside trees.

They are also very protective of these structures, so it’s best not to approach them.

Mud Dauber

As you may have guessed from their name, this wasp uses mud to create its nests. They take small mounds of mud and attach them to building eaves, where they harden. You can find these distinctive nests in many places, such as walls, attics, and trees.

Mud daubers are solitary wasps. They hardly ever sting, and they won’t defend their nest, making this type one of the safest for DIY removal.

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