Getting to Know Virginia Wasps: What You Need to Know

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on May 31, 2023 · 3 mins read

As a homeowner in Virginia, it’s important to know the wasps that are commonly found in your backyard. Not only can it help you identify potential threats and avoid painful stings, but it can also help you appreciate the important role these insects play in the ecosystem.

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.

What Are Virginia Wasps?

Virginia is home to several species of wasps, including yellow jackets, paper wasps, and hornets. These insects are often mistaken for bees, but they have some distinct differences. Wasps have slender bodies with a narrow waist, while bees have a more robust body shape. Wasps also have smooth and shiny skin, while bees have hairy bodies.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are perhaps the most recognizable wasp in Virginia. They are social insects that live in large colonies, with each nest containing up to 4,000 individuals. Yellow jackets are aggressive and will sting if they feel threatened, making them a potential danger to humans and pets. If you encounter a yellow jacket nest in your yard, it’s best to call a professional exterminator.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are another type of social wasp commonly found in Virginia. They build their nests out of papery material, which gives them their name. Paper wasps are less aggressive than yellow jackets but can still sting if provoked. Their nests are often found under eaves, in trees, or on other structures around your home.


Hornets are a type of wasp that is related to yellow jackets. They are larger than yellow jackets and have a brownish-red color. Hornets are also social insects that build large nests, often in trees or shrubs. Like yellow jackets, hornets are aggressive and will sting when threatened.

What to Do If You Encounter a Nest

If you find a wasp nest in your backyard, it’s important to stay calm and avoid disturbing the insects. Do not try to remove the nest yourself, as this can be dangerous and may result in multiple stings. Instead, contact a professional pest control company to safely remove the nest.

Preventing Wasp Infestations

The best way to deal with wasps is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place. There are several steps you can take to discourage wasps from building nests around your home:

  • Keep your garbage cans tightly sealed
  • Clean up spills and food debris immediately
  • Trim back overgrown bushes and trees
  • Seal any cracks or holes in the exterior of your home
  • Cover any outdoor food or drinks, especially during picnics or barbecues

By taking these simple steps, you can greatly reduce the risk of wasp infestations in your backyard.


Knowing the types of wasps that are commonly found in Virginia can help you identify potential threats and take appropriate action to protect your family and pets. Remember to stay calm if you encounter a wasp nest and always contact a professional for removal. By taking preventative measures, you can enjoy your time outdoors without the nuisance or danger of wasp infestations.