Ten tips for dealing with wasps in your barn

Ten tips for dealing with wasps in your barn

Wasp spray in bulkIt was hard to ignore the buzzing around my head as I tossed square bales from the trailer into the second story loft of our horse barn. I knew what it meant. The throbbing on the back of my neck from a wasp attack the day before made me extra sensitive to the threat. I did not want to be stung again. But if keeping me away was the intended result, the wasps in our barn were likely surprised at my response to their aggressive flybys. I walked away and a few minutes later returned with a can that would bring peace to the barn that night – at least to the humans. With it I unleashed a stream of prallethrin and cypermethrin wasp spray, enough to decimate a village of around 15 nests I had foolishly allowed to develop this spring. Enough is enough. It was time to take back the barn.

You’d think I’d learn from experience on this but it turns out a year is a long time to remember practical experience. One decision from the previous year turned out to be right, though, and I was glad for it this night. For some reason I bought a warehouse club sized pack of wasp spray which was ready for use when needed this year. It’s the kind of thing you don’t want to have to stop and drive to the store to get when those evil creatures attack. My recommendation is to have easy access to several cans of wasp spray so you can immediately fight back in anger and vengeance. Yes, let the hatred flow through you. You’ll need this kind of drive if they get wise to your plans because you have to push through and kill them all if you want to stop looking over your shoulder in the barn.

Here are some additional tips for declaring war on wasps in your barn:

  1. Buy a bunch at a warehouse club or at least grab 2-12 cans at your favorite home store. Do not allow yourself to run out. You will need it some day in a hurry! And you’ll probably need more than you think. Don’t worry, it’s cheap.
  2. Wasp spray companies have wisely figured out that you would prefer to be 1000 feet from the thing you’re trying to kill. Most cans can shoot the spray a long distance but remember that they have limited effectiveness when the can starts to get low. Don’t show up all cocky to a giant wasp nest full of the angry devils only to find your can sputtering out or you will find yourself quickly and painfully searching Google for “how to treat wasp stings.
  3. Since you may need wasp spray quickly, place cans in a few places where you know you’ll find them, like inside the door to your tack room and outside the door to your tack room and in the back pocket of your jeans. Just in case you are new to children, keep out of reach of children.
  4. Careful around pets. Our barn cats love to play with alive, dead or dying bugs. Sometimes this play involves them nibbling and we don’t want our pets eating any kind of poison. Also, warn your cats that you’re about to do something shocking or be prepared to learn what happens when cats are shocked and you’re nearby. If you opt for that learning experience, have bandages, a tourniquet, a cell phone, and a video recorder nearby.
  5. Some wasps build nests quickly, especially the mean little Napoleon buggers. They’re harder to see flying around but can sting repeatedly and fast. You should be in the habit of scanning common nest locations to see if any new ones have appeared.
  6. Speaking of which, remove old nests. It’ll make it easier to see new nests from a distance. I used to like to leave them there as a warning the future broods but it doesn’t seem to work.
  7. Spray at night. Not only will it be more fun to try and find the scary little flying poison darts in the dark, wasps don’t fly much at night so you’re likely to catch them all at home. Of course you should bring a flashlight and practice emergency retreating to avoid stepping on a rake and other Three Stooges moments.
  8. Wear gloves or at least wash your hands soon after releasing the death spray. Sure you’re not a wasp but I can’t imagine soaking up any kind of poison is good for you.
  9. Because you won’t listen to number 2, know where the benadryl cream is before starting. Let’s face it, you’re probably gonna get stung and you don’t want to spend time frantically flinging things out of your medicine cabinet afterwards while you look for it. Or worse, going to the store. The cream has helped me but some people also swear by the tablets. Whatever stops the pain and swelling.
  10. Maybe this should be number 1 but hopefully you’re still reading. Avoid wasps entirely if you have an extreme allergic reaction to their poison. Maybe carry an Epi-Pen, too. I don’t know how common this is but don’t risk your life if you’re prone to serious allergic reactions. Leave the little jerks to the professionals in this case or that friend that thinks a little pain makes them feel more alive. Tell them there is plenty of life right there in your barn.

Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid being stung this year! Good luck and feel free to share thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

July 2019 update: The exact same bottle of Spectracide wasp killer in the photo above is still available for about $3 a can (Rural King). I walked by a store display and did a double-take, recognizing it from this post. It works really well.

4 thoughts on “Ten tips for dealing with wasps in your barn

  1. I’ve wondered that as well. I’ve seen wasps land on our horses but like you said, they always get swished off by a tail or the wasps eventually leave. Horse hides are thicker than ours so I’m guessing they don’t get stung as much. I’m sure a swarm to the head would be quite painful, though.

  2. We don’t and haven’t had any problems with wasps in the hay but they usually create nests just over the hay in the loft and that does create some problems. Spraying the wasp nests ends up with them getting a good soaking of insecticide and I wouldn’t want that dripping on the hay. We either try to knock the nest down during the day, which is less effective and a little scary unless you have a long pole, or put a big piece of cardboard on top of the hay before spraying the nest above.

    Are you having problems with wasps in the hay itself?

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