Protecting you and your family from insect stings

Image of a Social Wasp (vespula vulgaris) | Rentokil Pest Control NZ

Being stung by a common wasp is a painful experience and can be life threatening to the one in thirty people who are allergic to stings and may suffer anaphylactic shock.


However, it is possible to reduce these risks by taking sensible precautions when outdoors and ensuring that wasp nests are properly treated or removed.

If you have been stung by a wasp, please refer to our guide to treating insect stings. This also has information about how to avoid being stung when outdoors.

Identifying Wasps

The bright yellow and black striping of wasps is a warning pattern that has been mimicked by many insects to take advantage of the deterrent effect of appearing wasp like. These harmless mimics include hover-flies, day moths (such as the Ash Borer) and beetles that visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar.

The wasps most often encountered in the NZ are the Common or Social Wasp and the German Wasp. As well as distinctive black and yellow stripes, wasps have two pairs of wings (the hind wings being smaller than the fore wings) and tend to be less hairy than bees. Their eyes are kidney shaped and their bodies are more pointed than bees, with a noticeable waist. Only female wasps have the long distinctive stinger, which they can use repeatedly unlike bees.

Wasp Nests

Image of a Wasps Nest | Rentokil Pest Control NZ

Take great care when dealing with wasps as they have a potent sting and can attack in large numbers if disturbed or threatened.

A wasp trapped indoors can be dealt with using a Wasp & Fly Killer spray.

If however, you are experiencing high numbers of wasps in your home or garden it is likely that there is a wasps nest nearby. When queen wasps come out of hibernation they search for sheltered places with easy access to the outdoors to build their nests, often in domestic housing, making use of attics, wall cavities, roof spaces or under the eaves of buildings.

A single nest may contain thousands of wasps which can swarm and attack if disturbed or provoked. If the location of a wasps nest is likely to put people at risk, then the nest should be destroyed.

Wasp nests are made from chewed wood pulp and saliva, giving them unmistakable papery walls. A queen wasp will start to build a nest in the spring, beginning with a nest about the size of a walnut but as the first batch of workers hatch to take over nest building the size of the nest increases rapidly.

By summer a mature wasps nest can contain between 4,000 - 6,000 individual wasps and typically can be 30 cm in width, although they can be much bigger depending on their location. Nests within wall or roof cavities may be restricted by the available space. Other sites for a wasps nest can include lofts, garden sheds, garages and out-buildings.

The risk from wasps is particularly high towards the end of summer – it is preferable to destroy a wasps nest earlier in the year before wasps become more aggressive.

How to get rid of Wasps Nests

To locate the nest, watch the flight path of the returning insects. If the wasps nest is near the home, keep nearby doors and windows closed. If you suspect the nest is in the loft, take great care when entering the roof space as the wasps may see this as an aggressive threat to their nest.

Do not attempt DIY wasp treatment if you suspect you are sensitive to wasp stings, if the nest is indoors or the nest is difficult to access. Never attempt to treat a wasps nest when on a ladder or from a raised height..

Wasp swarms are dangerous - if in any doubt, seek professional, expert help.

Rentokil Pest Control offers a call-out service to safely destroy Wasps Nests within your home or garden. The service is fast, effective and affordable.

If you would like further advice or to arrange a Rentokil Technician to visit and treat a wasp nest, call us free on 0800 552 001.

DIY Pest Control Products for Wasps

Rentokil offers a range of wasp products for amateur use to get rid of small wasp problems quickly and efficiently. The range includes sprays, like the Fly, Ant & Wasp Spray, which acts fast and can be used as a surface and space spray.

Alternatively the Wasp Nest Destroyer Foam and the Wasp Nest Killer Powder are very effective in killing wasps in their nests. As with all pest control products, please read the instructions carefully before use. However, you should not attempt DIY treatment if you suspect you are sensitive to wasp stings, the nest is indoors or difficult to access. If you do not wish to kill wasps, you can use the Bug Catcher and release humanely.

Pest control products from Rentokil are available to buy from all leading supermarkets, DIY stores, garden centres and hardware stores.

Whilst DIY products may be effective against smaller wasp problems, we would recommend you seek professional wasp nest removal services for large wasp problems.