Paper wasps are usually viewed as pests, but they are actually considered a beneficial insect. They feed mostly on caterpillars that can be garden pests as well as flies and beetle larvae. These wasps are typically brown/yellow or red with black wings. They make a nest that has honeycomb shaped cells, typically visible along the roofline and other areas that protect them from rain. If the nest is not in an area where they will be disturbed it is best to leave them alone. They are not generally aggressive but will defend their nest, although only the females can sting. The sting is painful but not dangerous except for people who have an allergic reaction.
If the nest is above a door or where children play it can be sprayed with a wasp spray. If you are interested in spraying them yourself, there are a variety of chemical and plant oil based products that should be used early in the morning or late in the evening when most of the wasps are on the nest. Prevention is not usually effective and the best option would be to monitor areas where wasps are unwanted early in the spring. A single wasp starts the colony and can easily be removed with a water hose or broom to encourage them to go somewhere else to nest. They are not likely to defend these small nests. The wasps die off in the fall and nests are not reused the following year. On occasion they can nest inside the structure, especially the red paper wasps. These nests can be difficult to access so it may be a situation where a pest professional is needed. We like to use compressed air and diatomaceous earth to blow out the nest in these voids. We would be happy to treat the visible nests as well but we cannot stop them from coming back.