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Reuben Saltzman

Avoiding Wasps

I’ve seen grown men act like sissies around little critters like mice, spiders, and leeches.  Not me though.


I act like a sissy around wasps.  I get stung every year.

This year it happened while I was inspecting a fireplace; I reached up inside the flue to close the damper, and a wasp stung me on the arm.  That’s right, a wasp made it’s way down the flue because it knew I was inside the house and it had it out for me.  Now I’m a little paranoid every time I reach up inside a fireplace.

Last year I got stung while riding an ATV.  I was flying along a trail and the wasp went right inside my helmet and stung me on the forehead.  That wasn’t just painful, it was also dangerous.

The year before that, I got stung while inspecting an electric panel; I didn’t notice the wasp nest below the panel, and I just started opening it.  Shame on me.  I got the heck out of there in a hurry, and I was lucky to get away with only one sting.

The year before that, I got stung while walking up a driveway to the house I was about to inspect.  I got stung on the side of my neck, right under the collar of my shirt.  I dropped my ladder and tool bag, ripped my shirt off, and started furiously batting at my neck and back.  Thankfully, my clients hadn’t yet arrived to see the goofy display I put on, but it must have been a pretty funny sight for anyone looking out their window.

On and on the list goes.  To lower my risk of getting stung, I try to follow these rules when inspecting houses:

Wasp Nest Under Gutter

  • I bang on gutters with my ladder before climbing on the roof.  Wasps are very sensitive to vibration; if there’s a wasp nest nearby, they’ll quickly swarm the area.  I forgot to do this a couple weeks ago, but luckily it was still early in the morning and the wasps were all still sleeping, so it was uneventful.  I did manage to get a good photo though – click the photo at right for a close-up.
  • I’m cautious about every attic space that I enter.  I’ve had to scramble out of a couple attics before, and it’s not easy.
  • I’m cautious every time I go underneath a deck.  This is a notorious location for wasp nests.
  • I don’t touch old logs.  One of my dad’s clients kicked an old log during the inspection and got stung about thirty times and had to leave the inspection to get treatment.
  • Waspinvent I carefully inspect roof caps, roof vents, and combustion air intakes for wasp nests from a distance before sticking my face in there.  I find wasp nests in these locations all the time.
  • I stay a healthy distance away from gable-end vents.  It’s rare to not find wasp nests here.

The good news about wasps is that they’re not generally angry – they just like to be left alone.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Minneapolis Home Inspections

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No responses to “Avoiding Wasps”

  1. Jim Allhiser
    September 21, 2010, 6:01 am

    Ha! Great post Reuben. Wasps are one of the few things that genuinely scare me. Last year I was in a very tight crawlspace and I crawled over a little bump in the plastic vapor barrier. Instantly it sounded like someone turned on a high speed fan next to my face! I squirmed backwards and stopped and listened….and heard hundreds of wasps hitting the 6 millimeters of plastic between my face and their nest! I beat a hasty retreat and luckily didn’t get stuck but it was definitely the scariest situation that I have been in and something I hope to never repeat!

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    September 22, 2010, 4:32 am

    Jim – that would have freaked me out too. I’m positive I would have scrambled so fast that I hit my head on something trying to get out of there.

  3. Edmonton Real Estate
    September 23, 2010, 4:03 pm

    I guess buyer’s don’t realize what it takes to be an inspector. During one of my client’s home inspection, the inspector fell from the ladder after being stung by a wasp.

    Derek H.

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    September 23, 2010, 5:21 pm

    Derek – I hope the inspector wasn’t seriously hurt. I can certainly picture myself falling off a roof or ladder after being stung.

  5. mary cristina
    August 27, 2011, 12:50 am

    Hi there,
    I just realised there’s a wasp nest/gathering in my main electrical panel. I was switching off breakers when a couple flew out and with a closer look i could see some on the other side of the panel cover. I have not removed this panel cover b/c I thought it might really irritate them and I’m not interested in getting stung (or having my infant stung!). Suggestions?
    I thought there might be one around since I’ve been seeing them all summer, even in the house many times, but this is the first nest I’ve seen: YUCK!!!

  6. Reuben Saltzman
    August 27, 2011, 5:09 am

    Hi Mary,

    I’m no expert on wasp nest removal. The best way is to get ’em at night by dousing their nest with a can of wasp spray, but you’re not supposed to be spraying foreign chemicals in to your electric panel. Your best option might be to try to leave them alone until winter.

    June 14, 2012, 1:01 pm

    well I’m glad to join this club.I Have been stung doing nothing to threaten yellow jackets or wasp. But did find that my Shop-vac 5.0 hp works wonders here how.FIRST take filter off.Put 2 qts water and wasp spray mixed in shop vac.Make sure the blowing hose is pointing away from you that keeps the wasp from a direct hit at you.then use the vac to suck up the nest the water holds them spray kills them if the ride down the hose doesn’t.Caution before opening lid spray a little in the blowing hole before you open it. Hope this helps. csoulrb

  8. Reuben Saltzman
    June 14, 2012, 7:04 pm

    Robert – I love that idea!

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