Unlike a honeybee, a single wasp has the ability to sting many times. Females sting when they are defending a nest and when feeling threatened. The three most common varieties of social wasps (those that live together in organised colonies) are paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets. Noticing an active wasp population in the yard usually indicates a nest nearby. It can be expensive to have a wasp nest removed professionally, but there are ways to do this yourself.
Locate the nest. Sit outside and watch the direction in which the wasps are flying. Finding the nest is best done at dawn or dusk, when you can observe heavy traffic going to and from the nest. Nests can be large paper nests, shaped like footballs, smaller nests that look like honeycombs or nests built in holes in the ground, mostly by yellow jackets.
For protection from stings, wear thick clothes, heavy gloves and boots, and tie sleeve cuffs and pant legs closed as precautionary measures. Cover your head and face with a hat and facial net, if you have one.
Spray insecticide from a pressurised container onto the above-ground nest. These containers emit a narrow spray 15 to 20 feet. Wasp-freeze compounds instantly kill the guard wasps or hornets at the opening of the nest. Get closer and direct the spray inside the opening of the nest to kill the remaining wasps and hornets and their larvae. If you still see live wasps, repeat this procedure at three-day intervals.
After no wasp activity is observed for two days, the nest can be removed.
To eliminate an in-ground nest, like those of yellow jackets, pour a solution of soapy water into the entrance of the hole containing the nest. Dish soap or laundry soap will work well.
If you still observe activity at the cavity entrance, use an insecticide in the opening. Insecticidal dust is the most effective form for in-ground nests, because liquid versions do not always reach the nest.
When you've seen no activity at the entrance for two days, cover the hole with dirt.
Always read pesticide labels carefully before buying and again before using. Follow directions carefully. Never attempt to get rid of a wasp nest if you are allergic to stings. Call a professional.