Believe it or not, but homeowners occasionally encounter wasps in their home during the winter season, and these incidents are most common in the midwest and states along the eastern coast. Queen wasps belonging to certain species of paper wasps and yellow jackets are sometimes spotted indoors during the winter, but they are frequently spotted indoors during the first warm days in early spring. The wasps that seemingly emerge out of nowhere within homes during the winter and spring seasons are most likely overwintering paper wasp queens, which are capable of inflicting painful stings that can be dangerous to those with venom allergies.

Before dying off during the fall season, male wasps impregnate all the queen wasps that they can find. These queens then seek overwintering sites in certain protected areas within homes, particularly in wall insulation, wall voids and attic spaces. Once warmer weather arrives during the spring, paper wasp queens emerge from their indoor overwintering sites in an effort to find access outdoors. When this occurs, the queen wasps swarm into a home’s interior living areas where they bump against windows in a fruitless effort to get outside. The overwintering queens most frequently emerge from beneath baseboards, gaps around light fixtures, behind window and door frames and ventilation ducts.

Although they are capable of stinging, overwintering paper wasp queens that emerge in homes during the spring normally pose a temporary nuisance, as paper wasps are not particularly aggressive. In fact, homeowners can eliminate overwintering paper wasp queens with a vacuum cleaner, fly swatter or broom. Doing this will not put humans in harm’s way, as paper wasp queens move sluggishly after waking from a long hibernation, making them largely harmless and easy to kill. Preventing paper wasp queens from overwintering within homes is difficult, but sealing cracks, crevices and other exterior entry points on a home’s exterior walls will go a long way. Pest control professionals can spray minimal amounts of insecticide beneath eaves during the spring in order to repel paper wasps that are well known for establishing nests in this area. Applying insecticide beneath eaves during the spring may also dissuade paper wasp queens from overwintering within homes during the fall.

Have you ever found wasps in your home during the winter or early spring seasons?