Q. When the leaves fell off the large maple tree on our property, I couldn’t help but notice a large hornet’s nest in the tree. Evidently, it had been there all summer, but the nest was hidden by leaves. Can I safely remove the nest from the tree?
A. I would wait awhile longer. Adult wasps do not survive the winter in Indiana, but it usually takes a few cold blasts (temperatures in the 20s) to nuke them all. The queen of the hive has probably already deserted the nest to find shelter during the winter months so she can start another nest in the spring in a different location.
You could always just leave the nest in the tree as it will slowly disintegrate over the winter months. You could remove the nest and destroy it, or bag it up and send it off to the landfill. If you do remove the nest, do so on a cold day to make sure no insects can come flying out. Do not take a nest inside. The warmth of the indoors might trigger a few eggs to hatch. We don’t want wasps flying around during our holiday dinners, do we?
Sometimes teachers will take nests and treat them (to prevent any hatching and to keep the hive intact) to teach young adults about the insect world. Check with a teacher before your child brings a wasp or hornet nest as part of “show and tell.” Teachers generally don’t like those sorts of surprises.