Infrared Training Center

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

IR finds Yellow Jackets Nest in House

by Sanin Mulic, Barber Foods

After attending my level one instruction during the week, and ITC wetting my appetite for thermal imaging, I returned home with my company's P-65 camera.  I decided to scan my own house to practice what I was taught all week.  All looked good until I went upstairs and noticed a bright spot on the inside wall.  I took several images of the spot and come Monday, I talked to two level 2 associates about what I had found.  There were several possibilities and I was told to take several more shots at different times to see if it moved or varied in temperature.   When we found it never moved I suggested that it might be insects (wasps, hornets, etc.) and talked with one of the other thermographers who would bring in a stethoscope to see if  I could hear them before opening up the wall.

Wasps  Wasps-vis 
Thermal image of the wasp nest (left).

I couldn’t wait, so that night armed with a drill, a can of flying insect killer, and the enthusiasm of a new thermographer,  I went up to the room; my pet cat, who loves to lay in the window there, had to investigate with me too.   I approximated where the hotspot was and drilled a 1/8 “ hole through the wall board. As I removed the drill bit, about 8 to 10 yellow jackets came charging through the hole and I started to spray the bug spray at the hole.  By this time, the yellow jackets were in an attack mode and I started to swing at them in defense.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw my cat speeding to the door with his tail bigger than I have ever seen it.  I finally killed the last one, sprayed about 1/3 of the can, and plugged the hole; but not before being stung twice.  I went outside and saw a swarm just outside the window. I drilled a second hole a few inches above it and knowing what was going to follow,  I had the spray ready to go as soon as the drill came out.  I sprayed about 1/3 of the can and then plugged the hole. I returned several hours later and the swarm was gone.  I climbed a ladder and found a small hole where they were coming and going.  I plugged that from the outside.  As I came back inside I saw my cat peaking from around the door as if to ask “Is it safe to come out now?”

After a few days I took another thermal image and there was no evidence of the yellow jackets remaining.  I submitted this investigation as my level one field report and it passed, but the memory of this initial experience will last a long time (the cat won’t forget it either!)

No-wasps no-wasps-vis
No wasps after removal.


  1. Great story, Those cameras are awesome for so many different types of jobs we found a wasp nest in the floor of my in-laws house.

  2. Awesome find with your IR cam. Dead is good. But are you comfortable with leaving all that toxic chemical and the remains of all those wasps and nest in the wall?

  3. Fantastic Story! Always interesting to see what others have found using their thermal imaging cameras. Thank you.

  4. Nice story!
    I want to know if it is possible to see in IR a crawling bug. Do they emit any energy in IR?

  5. I wish I saw this, I could have helped you as my specialty is pesticide free stinging insect removal. I use my IR camera all the time with business. Honestly, 95% of the time, it is best just to leave the yellow jackets alone. Once in a while they do break through, but even then, the pesticides that you used are VERY dangerous, especially if you have children. If you ever run into this again, please contact me and I will be glad to give you free advice.

  6. I have a flir.... and a flippin' nightmare with wasps around my house.

    I've seen these images on my camera and have assumed the same scenario -- nests in my walls.

    Husband has agreed to a similar scenario as you.
    Going to use the drill bit inside the house first as that will be the easiest scar to repair.

    My questions to you are:

    1. Your images seem to have been recorded at different times of the day. i.e. the heat levels through the window. ??

    2. What is the time lapse between images?

  7. find with your IR cam. Dead is good. But are you comfortable with leaving all that toxic chemical and the remains of all those wasps and nest in the wall?Best Mobile wallet

  8. That is one hilarious story! Thank you Sanin for sharing it! I simply love using thermal cameras, because you never know what you'll find. If you are ever in need for a new thermal camera, a great place to look is Diamond Technical Survey. They have many great infrared products.