Written by Raymond Nakamura
Once upon a time, Raymond earned his doctorate studying the hydrodynamics of sand dollars. Nowadays, when he’s not employed as personal assistant to his lovely and demanding daughter, he enjoys creating fun and educational experiences in science and history using facts and fiction, words, pictures and whatever else is handy. Follow him on Twitter @raymondsbrain

Created date

Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 9:23pm

Do fake wasp nests fool wasps?

Sting Operation

I'm starting to notice the wasps showing up in our garden, and wasp deterrents shaped like wasp nests showing up in the hardware store.

In the Bag

I have used various toxic methods in the past (the most effective being to call an exterminator), I am now in a kinder and gentler frame of mind. Somehow, somewhere, I'd heard about using an inflated paper bag as a deterrent. The idea being that the wasps see the nest as a rival and therefore avoid it. It seems like one of those "it's crazy enough that it just might work" scenarios, but I wanted some scientific evidence.

The Buzz

I've heard many people with anecdotal evidence that it worked. I tried it out once a while ago with mixed results. It seemed that so many other factors could be involved, including the wasps getting full, the weather changing, the food being removed (so the wasps weren't attracted any more). It's not a simple situation because of the many kinds of wasps, and their different behaviours which change under various conditions. People also seem to have trouble identifying flying insects when they are frantically swatting them.


I came across a commercial version made of material, which looks more like a an actual wasp nest (round and gray). They sent me a paper done for them by a consulting firm, testing the devices near wasp lures and they appeared to be effective. The data, however, only indicated the presence of absence of wasps without identifying the species or counting the number. As well, I still don't know if it is any better than a paper bag.

Expert Opinions

I contacted some entomologists and received responses from five. Only two had even heard of this practise, which was surprising to me. All were skeptical about its usefulness, though a few acknowledged it was an interesting idea. I guess that is the way a scientist is supposed to think about questions. And I guess you don't get big research grants to look at paper bags. One pointed out that he had not seen any evidence that species of local yellow jackets are especially territorial and that the one that makes a nest resembling a paper bag (confusingly known as the bald-faced hornet) is the least aggressive. Dr. Richard Ring expressed skepticism, but added, "after a 45-year career in entomology I never cease to be amazed by the new things I find out about insect biology and behaviour."

After getting stung in the head last summer, my daughter seems reluctant to participate in any wasp related studies. So if any of you have the inclination to do a controlled test of a paper bag or a commercial device, please share your results.

If you want to learn more about wasps, check out our related article, "Ever Wonder About Wasp Nests?"



As of today, I put up a paper

As of today, I put up a paper bag pretty much exactly as you have in the cartoon bc wasps seem to like one of our patio chairs. I'm watching wasps come & go (they've never been aggressive). I'll monitor this as our summer progresses & let ya know my, more anecdontl, thoughts :-)

I ASSURW you...they work

I ASSURW you...they work wonderfully.We purchased a home on the river with forest and wasps thrive in huge numbers . At first oye skepticism kept us from trying these paper nests. When it became irritating to sit on our french balcony due to swarms trying to build their nests into our ventilation ducts we decided to try them purchasing 4 hives to hang at each entry of our plantation home...we monitored the behavior and reactions of the wasps and SUCCESSFUL These fake hives are. The summer was bearable to coexist with them as they tapered off the areas these paper hives are hung at.. This year our severe storms in Missouri blew them away and we have not replaced them yet and spring has brought HUGE numbers of the again trying to infiltrate the same areas that were causing us problems before. Do not let anyone tell you they do not work because as consumers we have tried them and know they do divert the wasps from settling in close to these paper hives. We are buying more only this time securing them to not blow away and at 10.00 for two it beats using harsh chemicals ... They have amazing RESULTS.

I used a plastic brown

I used a plastic brown grocery bag and stuffed it with other bags and a towel. I then used rubber bands to give it a ridged look and the right shape. So far it seems to work great. Within two days all other bees were gone along with the existing/occupied wasps nests. I don't know about the other factors but the bag itself seems to work. The best part is that its completely free.

I have had two of the

I have had two of the commercial versions hanging for a few years, one in our front porch area, and one one our rear deck, and they do not in any way affect the number of 'wasp' nests. When I say 'wasp' I am referring to the yellow and black striped wasps, as these type are the ones (at least at our house) that make a small cluster nest (I believe these are Dominulus or European Paper Wasps) that looks nothing like the commercial nests. I did not have the fake nests up last year, and maybe coincidentally, or maybe not, we did get a bald-faced hornets nest in one of our bushes that looked exactly like the fake ones. I can't say one way or the other if the fake nests worked or not in terms of the bald-faced hornets, but for the European Paper Wasps, they do nothing. These wasps are definitely not territorial as we usually have multiple nests all around our house.

I believe the Yellow Jackets

I believe the Yellow Jackets that are bothering you nest in the ground. The small little paper nests are only used for laying eggs in ( I am not sure by what type). The large bag shaped paper nests we get occasionally around the yard here are made by black wasps with white stripes. Ever since I started hanging up a fake nest bought at Canadian Tire - 2 for $10) we have never had another nest built in our yard but they did build one some distance away in the plum grove. These ones have never been aggressive but I just feel better when they are not living close by.

Yellow Jackets nest in the

Yellow Jackets nest in the ground and above the ground. Same follows for their reproductive habits. Whichever area the decide to nest, the colony is built, by the queen.

From what I've heard about

From what I've heard about these nests they're pretty effective. I've setup one at my house before and if you can keep it out of the rain and what not they last pretty long. The kind I had is a flattened paper nest that you pull open and use a metal hanger / frame that comes with it to hang it up. The best way I've heard to use them is put them somewhere visible, but not hanging or floating in the wind (cause they don't do that naturally) - It has to be tight and against a wall/corner for the best realism. As a correction, the fake wasp nest is suppose to look like a fake hornets nest. Which is definitely suppose to repel wasps. I believe the idea behind it is that wasps are very territorial, and in the case of a fake wasp nest, they're suppose to keep about a 700m area from other nests. That being said if there is already an established nest I couldn't say they'd abandon it, not in the first season. When I did this I had a problem with bees burrowing into the roof of my basement through a small hole. After winter came and went, the bees seem to be fairly abesent, and the ones that seem to be coming by are very cautious of going close to the nest.

I just reviewed a commercial

I just reviewed a commercial one on Amazon. It really does work! It took care of the hornet problem I had by my front door. It's shaped like a nest with a wire interior with a paper-like exterior.

I had yellow jackets building

I had yellow jackets building a small nest under my eave over my front deck, just above the BBQ. I hung a fake wasp nest with a few feet of it, and the yellow jackets stopped building the nest within a week. I still see lots of wasps around, which is fine, they are great pollinators, but they have abandoned their nest building in my eave. If the fake wasp nest didn't help, it was a fortunate coincidence.


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