Getting to Know California Wasps: A Friendly Guide for Homeowners

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on April 23, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’re a homeowner in California, chances are you’ve encountered a few wasps buzzing around your yard. These stinging insects can be intimidating, but with a little knowledge, you can coexist with them safely. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most common wasps in California and help you learn to identify them and understand their behavior.

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

Common California Wasps

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are perhaps the most recognizable wasps in California. They are slender, with long legs and narrow waists, and can range in color from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown or even black. You may have seen their distinctive nests, which look like upside-down umbrellas attached to eaves, overhangs, or other protected areas around your home.


Yellowjackets are another common wasp in California. They are more robust than paper wasps and have bright yellow and black stripes. Unlike paper wasps, yellowjackets build their nests underground or in wall voids. They tend to be aggressive and will sting if they feel their nest is threatened.


Hornets are less common in California than paper wasps and yellowjackets, but they can still be found in some areas. They are larger than paper wasps and have a distinct black and white striped pattern on their abdomen. Their nests are often built high up in trees or on tall structures like chimneys or towers.

Wasp Behavior

Understanding wasp behavior can help you avoid getting stung. While wasps are generally not aggressive unless provoked, they will defend their nest if they feel threatened. If you see a wasp flying around your home, it’s best to give it a wide berth and avoid disturbing it.

If you do get stung by a wasp, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the pain and swelling. Ice packs, antihistamines, and pain relievers can all help. If you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing or a swollen tongue, seek medical attention immediately.

Wasp Control

If you have a wasp nest on your property and it’s causing a problem, it’s important to address it carefully. DIY removal methods can be dangerous and may only agitate the wasps further. It’s best to call in a professional exterminator who has the equipment and expertise to remove the nest safely.

In conclusion, getting to know the wasps in your California backyard can help you coexist with them safely. Understanding their behavior and knowing how to identify them can help you avoid getting stung, and calling in a professional exterminator can help you address any problems that arise. Happy coexisting!