Is It Safe To Remove Hornet Nests in the Winter?

by Derrick | Last Updated: May 10, 2022

Finding a hornets’ nest on your roof or near your house in the winter might be frightening. And, given how violent hornets can be, you’re probably wondering if getting rid of them is a wise idea.

It’s safe to remove hornets’ nests in winter because the nests are usually empty during this period. Most hornets can’t survive the cold winter temperature and will die off. The only exception is the mated queen, who insulates herself somewhere until spring to start a new colony.

However, no matter the season, you should still take caution when removing a hornet nest. In this article, I’ll show you how to get rid of them safely.

How To Safely Get Rid of Hornets’ Nests

It is dangerous to have a hornets’ nest around your home, especially when it isn’t yet winter. When threatened, hornets become incredibly aggressive. Their stings are painful and can trigger allergic responses in some people. Worse still, when hornets sting, they release pheromones that attract other hornets toward you.

So, if you see a hornets’ nest near your home, don’t immediately pull it down. The hornets will attack you in droves, which will be a nightmare. I recommend contacting an expert. However, you can also get rid of hornets’ nests with the right tools and knowledge.

Consult a Pest Control Expert

The best way to remove a hornets’ nest is to call a pest control expert. They’re professionals with the right tools and knowledge. So you can be sure they know what to do. Contacting an expert is the safest way to remove the nest and ensure the safety of you and your family.

Try the DIY Method

However, if there’s no pest control expert nearby, or you’re a hands-on person, you can get rid of that menacing hornets’ nest in your environment on your own. Here’s what to do.

Be Sure You’re Dealing With Hornets

Pest-deterrent methods vary from pest to pest. So, you must confirm that you’re dealing with hornets because they closely resemble wasps.

A pest control expert can easily differentiate between wasps and hornets. However, you can also spot them if you know their differences.

Both wasps and hornets are social insects. Although they look similar, hornets are much larger.

The European hornets and the bald-faced hornets are common in North America. The European hornet is a giant reddish-brown insect with yellow stripes on its abdomen. On the other hand, Bald-faced hornets have a white pattern on their faces, which gives them a bald appearance.

Have you confirmed that the insect intruders on your property are hornets? Then, let’s move to the next step.

Equip Yourself With the Necessary Tools

Keep all the required tools handy. You don’t want to be looking for any item when you begin. 

You’ll need the following:

  • Ladders (if the nest is high up)
  • Pruning shears
  • A garbage bag
  • A light source

Remove the Hornets’ Nest

You can remove a hornets’ nest using one of the following methods:

  • Bag the nest: If you’re in a vantage position, a large garbage bag can do the job. Envelope the nest with the garbage bag and tie it up. No hornet escapes, and you can neatly get rid of the insects.
  • Use a soap and water spray: A soap and water spray is one effective way to eliminate hornets. Soap kills hornets by blocking their breathing pores. Add two tablespoons of soap to a water spray bottle and shake vigorously. Then spray a generous amount on the insects.
  • Use an insecticide: You can also use an insecticide to get rid of the hornets. Insecticides contain potent chemicals that can kill the hornets within minutes. I recommend this Raid Wasp and Hornet Killer (available at This product kills hornets instantly and has a residual effect that prevents insects from returning to the nest.
  • Use an essential oils spray: Essential oils can also help you get rid of hornets. Fill a spray bottle with water, a few drops of lemongrass, clove, geranium essential oils, and two tablespoons of dish soap. Shake well and spray on all nest sides to kill all hornets inside. Also, spray the corners of your house to prevent them from returning to build nests in the future.

Safety Tips While Removing a Hornet Nest

Hornets are territorial; they’ll attack you once you invade their space. And they attack in mass. So, while you prepare to remove a hornet nest, you must consider your safety. 

Wear Thick Protective Clothing

Don’t go near a hornets’ nest without appropriate clothing. Thick coveralls are adequate for this occasion in case a few insects escape the nest and come at you. Gloves, masks, and shoes will also help safeguard you against unwanted hornet stings .

Keep Light Sources Away

Like other insects, hornets are drawn to light. If you’re holding a flashlight, you’ll simply be making yourself an easy target. It is best to keep all light sources away from you in a location that still makes the nest visible for treatment, but doesn’t attract the hornets towards you.

How To Keep Hornets Away From Your Home

There’s the tendency for hornets to return to your home even after getting rid of them. Here are ways you can prevent hornets from coming back:

  • Grow a hornet-repellent plant
  • Get rid of food waste in the house
  • Cover all trash cans
  • Use a hornet-repellent spray

These preventive measures will keep hornets and even other wasps away from your environment. 

Key Takeaways

It’s safe to remove hornet nests in winter. They’ll most likely be empty anyway because hornets die off in winter, except for the queen, who hibernates until winter passes.

However, if hornets build a nest around your home before or after winter, you’ll have to carefully get rid of them or get an expert to help you.

You can remove hornets’ nests by:

  • Bagging them
  • Using a soap and water spray
  • Spraying insecticide
  • Spraying essential oil blends

Remember to wear thick protective clothing and keep light sources away from yourself for your safety.