Hornets are among the most troublesome pests that homeowners can encounter. Their stings can be extremely painful—even deadly for those who are allergic to their venom. If you find hornets on your property, take these steps to help get rid of them safely.

Eliminate protein sources. Hornets are attracted to protein-rich food sources such as pet food and compost. Don’t give hornets free snacks! Keep your pet’s food in sealable containers, put compost materials in a bin and securely fasten garbage can lids.

NEVER swat a hornet. While it’s tempting to stomp on a hornet or swing at it with a fly swatter, a threatened insect will release a pheromone to warn other hornets of danger. This could cause them to attack you as a group.

Vacuum hornets indoors. If a hornet makes its way into your home, vacuum it up. Even if it survives, it will succumb to dehydration or starvation after a few days of being trapped in your vacuum container.

Kill the nest. You can exterminate a colony of hornets using aerosol insecticides developed for killing these pests. Wait until evening when most of the hornets are inside the nest and less active. As a precaution, put on a jacket, long pants tucked into socks, a hat and gloves. Spray the nest’s entrance first, then totally wet the nest with the insecticide. Most sprays kill hornets on contact, but repeat the next day if you notice activity. After about two days of no activity, the nest can be removed. Hornets nests can be difficult and dangerous to remove. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the nest, call a professional exterminator.

Keep them away for good. Once you have removed the nest, wipe down the area with an enzyme cleaner. This destroys the hornets’ pheromones, which could otherwise attract new hornets to the spot. Another option: Put up insect mesh to deter hornets from nest-prone spots such as under household eaves.

Be sure to review our other articles for great information on other summer specific pests & maintenance!