About two weeks ago I noticed a new wasp nest in my back yard. I generally leave them as long as they aren't interfering with anything, but this nest has suddenly grown quite large and they are swarming when I mow the lawn. From the nest appearance, I was afraid these were bald-faced hornets, but up close they look more like yellowjackets, I'm uncertain of the species. This is as close as I dared to get with the camera.

wasp nest close up

I am willing to live and let live until October (when the nest is vacated), but I have two concerns that may change my mind:

  • How large might this nest become?

  • If I leave them this summer, are they likely to return to the same place next year?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ About double to triple that size if there is plenty of food in the area. $\endgroup$
    – Fiasco Labs
    Jul 12, 2015 at 18:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I used a magnifying glass and it does look like yellow jackets. I don't think they are the more laid back species (European) but the OTHER species that is much more aggressive. $\endgroup$
    – stormy
    Jul 12, 2015 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ For a closer look, try taking a picture at night with the flash. Wasps usually don't fly a lot at night. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2015 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Wasp nest growth rate is inversely proportional to the frequency at which you hit it with a rake. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Apr 1, 2017 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


According to multiple reports (here, here and here), a 7m (22ft) paper wasp nest was found in an abandoned home in San Sebastian de La Gomera on the island of Tenerife (~100km off the shore from Morocco)!! The nest was estimated to be home to over 22,000 wasps! The picture is included below:

This nest broke the previous world record, a nest discovered in Waimaukau in New Zealand in April 1963 that was an impressive 3.7metres, or 12ft 2ins long, more than 5ft in diameter and 18ft in circumference!

Giant Wasp Nest on Tenerife

Other big nests? ...

  • According to this site a 10 ft x 7ft x 2ft nest buzzing with about 400,000 yellow jackets was found in a camper in SC, U.S.

  • Here is a video of an apparent giant (6.5ft x 8ft) yellow jacket nest found in Florida, U.S. in 2013. A Picture of the nest is below:

florida yellow jacket nest in 2013


As to your second question: wasps do not return to a nest, they build a new one every year

However, if you leave the nest it will produce new queens, perhaps enlarging the change they will build a new nest in the area.


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