If you’ve noticed more wasps buzzing around than usual, you’re not alone. Wasps seem to be everywhere this year! If you’re wondering why there are so many wasps in 2024, read on to learn the reasons behind the influx and what you can do.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The mild winter and rainy spring created ideal conditions for wasps to thrive and rapidly expand their nests. More queens survived winter and started new colonies.

The Mild Winter Allowed More Queens to Survive

The main reason there seem to be more wasps buzzing around this year is that more queens survived the winter to start new nests in the spring. Here’s why:

More hibernating queens made it through winter

Wasps, like many insects, go through a winter dormancy called diapause. Mated queen wasps find protected spots like holes in trees, underground burrows, or gaps in walls and hibernate through the winter.

When winter temperatures drop extremely low for long periods, more hibernating queens can die off. But this past winter was relatively mild across much of the country, with fewer cold snaps. This improved overwintering survival, allowing more queens to make it through to spring.

For example, in a typical year, experts estimate about 10-20% of hibernating wasp queens survive the winter. But this past winter, survival rates were likely 2-3 times higher in many areas due to the warmer weather.

With more queens emerging in spring, that translates into more wasp nests being founded and growing through summer.

Queens were able to start nests earlier in spring

Warmer weather in late winter and early spring also enabled wasp queens to emerge from hibernation and start building nests earlier. With extra time to build up their colonies before peak summer, wasp nests grew larger than normal this year.

For example, in the Northeast U.S., queens usually start making nests in April. But this year, there were reports of queens building nests as early as mid-March. And in warmer southern states, nest founding may have begun in February or early March – up to a month ahead of schedule.

Larger nests mean more worker wasps out foraging and potentially bothering people at picnics and other outdoor activities. So the combination of higher queen survival and an early start to nesting season is why those pesky wasps seem more abundant in many areas this summer!

The Rainy Spring Supported Larger Nests

Wet weather provided ample water sources

The rainy spring this year led to perfect conditions for wasps to build their nests. Wasps require a good source of water to build their paper nests, which can contain up to 10,000 cells! The frequent rainfall created abundant puddles and water sources for wasps to utilize.

According to pest control companies, the damp weather allowed wasps to collect more water to cool their nests and feed their larvae. With ample moisture available, wasps were able to construct substantially larger nests than previous years.

Research shows that wasp nests can grow up to the size of basketballs when humidity levels remain high. Their nests are made of chewed-up wood fibers mixed with saliva, so easy access to water is crucial during the building process.

The plentiful rainfall this spring provided the ideal wet environment for wasps to manufacture expansive nests rapidly. In fact, exterminators have reported removing record-breaking jumbo nests this season due to the ideal moist conditions.

Abundant insects offered ample food sources

In addition to needing water, wasps require a protein-rich diet of insects to feed their larvae and power nest expansion. The rainy weather also led to a proliferation of flies, caterpillars, spiders, and other insects that serve as food sources.

With plenty of prey crawling around, wasps were able to readily secure nutritious meals to sustain their large nests.

Experts note that a single wasp nest can contain thousands of hungry larvae to feed. The bountiful insects generated by the wet climate allowed worker wasps to hunt efficiently and regularly deliver protein-packed meals back to the nest.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside found that increased rainfall led to 70% larger wasp nests due to the boost in available food. Simply put, the ample prey enabled wasps to put their nutrition towards fueling rapid nest growth.

Warmer Summer Temperatures Accelerated Growth

Hot weather allowed rapid nest expansion

The unusually hot summer weather this year has been ideal for wasp population growth and expansion. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures have been 3-5°F above average since early spring, with less rainfall as well.

These drier and warmer conditions allow wasp queens to start building nests earlier and expand them faster than normal years.

Wasp nest founding begins when an overwintered queen starts constructing a small starter nest in early spring, often inside holes, cavities, or under eaves. With plenty of sunshine and warmth fueling frequent hunting and feeding trips, queens are able to lay more eggs.

Nests can grow from walnut-sized to basketball-sized or bigger in just a few months. A Kansas State University entomologist noted that hot and arid habitats can enable enormous perennial nests holding up to 15,000 wasps.

Multiple generations of wasps could be produced

These accelerated summer nest expansions also allow more than one generation of wasp offspring to be produced. Most temperate species like yellowjackets have an annual colony cycle, with only new queens overwintering. But the early seasonal boost enables more reproductive wasps to be nurtured sooner.

Wasp Species Average Generations Per Year Generations in Hot Summers
Yellowjackets 1 2-3 potential
Paper wasps 1-2 3 or more possible

With supercharged nest expansion and faster generational cycles, no wonder wasp populations have exploded this year! Backyard barbecues and picnics are more likely to be crashed. Although painful and annoying, most wasp stings are not dangerous unless the person is allergic.

But nests near human activity may need to be removed.

To safely discourage wasps without insecticides, cover food and drink, install wasp traps away from gathering areas, and seal holes or other access points on buildings. And hope for some cold snaps before fall to slow them down! 😬

How to Control Wasps and Stay Safe

Call a professional exterminator for large infestations

If you have a huge wasp nest with hundreds or thousands of wasps around your home, it’s best to call a professional exterminator. Trying to remove a massive nest yourself can be dangerous and ineffective.

Exterminators have the protective gear and powerful insecticides to safely knock down large nests.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), exterminators typically charge $50-$150 to remove a wasp nest, depending on its size and location. For very large nests, costs may be higher. Be sure to get an estimate first before hiring someone.

Use traps and repellents for minor issues

If you only see a few wasps buzzing around, you likely can manage them yourself with some basic tools:

  • Traps: Wasp traps like the Rescue! reusable trap or Aspectek indoor insect killer can lure and kill some wasps over time. They may not fully solve a wasp problem alone but can help reduce numbers.
  • Repellents: Some plants like lavender, mint, citronella, eucalyptus and garlic naturally repel wasps when planted around your home. You also can apply cedar oil, peppermint oil or garlic spray as an anti-wasp barrier.
  • Aerosol sprays: Wasps don’t like the smell of vinegar, smoke or insecticidal soaps. Applying these substances directly into small nests or onto entry points can discourage wasps from congregating.

Using an integrated pest management (IPM) approach with multiple deterrents and traps tends to work better than a single solution.

Avoid provoking wasps and seek medical care if stung

While going about your wasp control efforts, it’s wise to avoid actions that might provoke them, like:

  • Swatting near wasps
  • Blowing air onto them
  • Wearing bright colors and strongly scented perfumes/lotions near nests
  • Letting garbage with sweet foods accumulate outside

If you do get stung, promptly wash the area with soap and water and apply ice to reduce swelling. Seek emergency care if you develop anaphylaxis signs like trouble breathing, dizziness or swelling of the lips/tongue.

Use an epinephrine auto-injector like EpiPen if you have a known wasp allergy. Calling 911 is also recommended if you have a severe reaction to assure prompt medical treatment.


In summary, the perfect storm of mild winter, rainy spring, and hot summer in 2024 allowed wasp populations to explode. While dealing with more wasps can be annoying, there are steps you can take to control them and stay safe.

Being aware of why wasp numbers are up this year can help you prepare and prevent problems.

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