Why Are Wasps So Aggressive? Understanding the Behavior of Common Backyard Wasps

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

As a homeowner, it can be concerning to see wasps buzzing around your backyard. These stinging insects may seem aggressive, but understanding their behavior can help you stay safe and deal with them effectively.

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.

Why Are Wasps Important?

Before we dive into why wasps may seem aggressive, let’s talk about why they are important. Wasps are actually beneficial insects that help control other pests in your garden. They prey on caterpillars, aphids, and other insects that can damage your plants.

Types of Backyard Wasps

There are many different species of wasps, but some common ones you may see in your backyard include paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are named for the papery nests they build, which are usually found under eaves or in other protected areas. These wasps are about ¾ inch long and have slender bodies with long legs.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees because of their similar size and yellow and black stripes. However, yellow jackets have a more slender waist and lack the fuzzy body characteristic of bees. These wasps build nests in the ground or in cavities such as tree hollows.


Hornets are the largest of the common backyard wasps, measuring up to 1 ½ inches long. They build large, papery nests in trees or shrubs. Hornets are known for their painful stings, which can be dangerous for those who are allergic.

Why Are Wasps Aggressive?

Now, let’s tackle the question at hand - why are wasps so aggressive? The truth is, wasps are not naturally aggressive, but they will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

For example, if you accidentally step on a wasp nest or swat at a wasp, they may perceive you as a threat and attack. Additionally, certain factors such as bright colors, strong smells, or sudden movements can also trigger defensive behavior in wasps.

Dealing With Wasps Safely

If you want to get rid of wasps in your backyard, it’s important to do so safely. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid wearing bright colors or strong perfumes when working outside
  • Be careful when mowing the lawn or trimming hedges, as vibrations can upset wasps
  • If you encounter a wasp nest, keep your distance and do not disturb it
  • If you need to remove a wasp nest, consider calling a professional pest control service

Remember, wasps play an important role in your backyard ecosystem, so try to coexist with them when possible. If you do need to remove a wasp nest, do so carefully and without causing harm to the wasps or yourself.

In conclusion, understanding the behavior of common backyard wasps can help you stay safe and deal with them effectively. Remember to respect these beneficial insects and take steps to avoid disturbing them whenever possible.