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I have what I think is a hornet nest on the soffit of my house.

enter image description here

The nest has been removed, however, the hornets keep rebuilding. Also, they have started to swarm the sewer vent pipe (not shown in photo).

If fail to get rid of the hornets this fall, will they return to the same nest next year (or overwinter and continue to live there)?


I'm not sure if this is relevant or not:

To give you an idea of what kind of winters I am dealing with, I am near Toronto, Ontario; the temperature goes down to -25 degrees Celsius.

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    $\begingroup$ The picture isn't that clear and fails to show the insects involved, but based on your description and region you are probably talking about a paper wasp, not a hornet, though in common vernacular in the region 'hornet' is used. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polistes_dominula most likely. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Aug 27 '18 at 19:39
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If fail to get rid of the hornets this fall, will they return to the same nest next year (or overwinter and continue to live there)?

No. The nest, likely made of wood pulp (and maybe mud), will/should degenerate to unusable over the winter, though the bulk could remain for a couple of years. All wasps die, except for the new queens (fertile, mated females) who overwinter in sheltered crevices somewhere.

In spring, it is a single wasp that starts a hive: the new queen. She builds a new, small hive in which to lay eggs, which is added to initially by the queen and then by workers who have hatched.

While she will not return to an old hive, the conditions which appeared advantageous to one queen (shelter from rain, intense sunlight, winds, etc.) will also seem advantageous to other queens, which is why nests appear in the same places year after year.

Edited to add: It appears most likely that the queens that overwinter are "new queens", that is, mated female offspring of the queen. H/T @Brian Krause.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a minor correction, I think the overwintering population is mostly young mated females, though I don't know for certain whether queens who produced nests the prior year can also overwinter. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Aug 27 '18 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause - I believe you are correct; edited. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Aug 27 '18 at 21:50

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