Wasps and humans don’t go well together. While bees will happily buzz around your flowers and pose no harm as long as you don’t threaten them, wasps can be very aggressive and troublesome.
Outside in your yard they make it difficult to enjoy a summer’s day or get work done, and alfresco dining is ruined by their determination to join in with your meal.
Indoors they’re even worse. Once a wasp gets inside it will zip around looking for a way out (unless something in your kitchen draws its attention), getting angrier and angrier, and no matter how gently you try to waft it toward an open door it often can’t manage to find its way back outside.
A mild allergy manifests in swelling and pain around the site of the sting that can persist for up to a week, while a severe allergy can be life threatening.
Sprays designed to kill wasps work well, but you know right away from the noxious smell that those chemicals aren’t doing you any good. These sprays are expensive too, and if you don’t tackle the source of your wasp problem, you end up paying over and over again for cans of wasp spray all summer long.
Once the wasp spray has been used, it settles out of the air onto your furniture and your surfaces, your plants, your food prep area, kids toys, you name it, if it’s in the room that got sprayed them it’s got a layer of poison on it.
Before we look at cost effective and non-toxic ways to eliminate your wasp problem, it’s worth bearing in mind that wasps aren’t all bad. They’re considered a beneficial insect and will pollinate flowers and crops, eat house fly and blow fly larva which keeps the fly population down, and they also eat insects that would otherwise damage your growing flowers and fruits and vegetables.
I have love hate relationships with wasps. I love that they eat the aphids that suck the life out of my plants and fruit trees, but I dislike pretty much everything else about them.
Even though wasps are a nuisance, it’s never nice to kill them, but when it comes down to it, sometimes there is no other option when they make life difficult and painful.
- 1 1. Don’t Draw Them In
- 2 2. Put Up A Fake Nest
- 3 3. Keep Them Out Of Your House With A simple Trick
- 4 4. Time Your Attack Appropriately
- 5 5. Spray Hanging Nests With Dish Soap
- 6 6. Block Off Underground Nests
- 7 7. Grow Plants That Deter Wasps
- 8 8. Make Wasp Traps
- 9 Make a Simple Bottle Trap
- 10 Good Baits
- 11 Make A Jar Trap
- 12 9. Use A Repellant
- 13 Home Remedy For A Wasp Sting
1. Don’t Draw Them In
Wasps are attracted to food. They love foods that are high in sugar and they’re also partial to meat and anything that smells like meat (including dry pet food).
During the spring and early summer, queens just out of hibernation (and later the young wasps) need to build up their strength So at those times of the year they’re preferentially looking for protein.
Later in the summer they want sugar, which means soft drinks, your children’s ice cream cone, your glass of wine, desserts, fruit and chocolate, to name just a few of the foods that will tempt them.
To avoid attracting wasps when you’re dining outdoors, keep your food and drinks covered.
Use can covers for soda cans to stop the sugary drink attracting them, and to prevent them from crawling into the can and then ending up in your mouth when you take your next sip.
Put children’s drinks into sports bottles that have a cap over the spout.
Keep your food in Tupperware until it’s time to serve it, rather than lay it all out onto the table at the beginning of a meal.
Wasps remember where they found food and will return to the site of a previous meal hoping to strike it lucky again. So even when you’ve removed any food sources from areas that wasps have been frequenting, you’ll need to be cautious for a few days until they realize that the food source isn’t coming back.
Wearing the wrong color clothes makes you a target for inquisitive wasps. And unfortunately popular summer colors like white and yellow are their favorites. Wasps can’t see red though, so if you know that you’ve got wasps around, then a red shirt is a good choice if you want to sit out and enjoy the summer sun unmolested.
Perfumes are another wasp beacon. They’ll be attracted to the fragrance in your hairspray and other styling products, your body lotion, deodorant and sunscreen, as well as your perfume or aftershave.
Wasps need water, so try not to leave water sources out for them. Make sure your outdoor faucet isn’t dripping, don’t leave water bowls out for your pets, and set birdbaths and hummingbird feeders away from your house and outdoor living spaces. If you’ve got a pond or a pool, set traps close by.
Keep your trash cans covered and keep them clean. That garbage aroma really draws them in. Place your trash cans a good distance away from your house too once the weather warms up and wasps are out in force.
If you have fruit trees. Keep the fruits picked and gather up fallen fruit from the ground every day.
2. Put Up A Fake Nest
Wasps are territorial, they defend their own territory and they’re reluctant to encroach on the territory of another colony.
You can use this instinct to your advantage and fool the wasps into believing that another wasp colony is in residence, by using fake wasps nests.
These can be made from a simple paper bag that you’ve shaped to look like a wasps nest, or you can buy very realistic looking ready made fake nests to hang around outside.
Wasps won’t build a nest within 200 feet of an existing colony, so if you hang fake nests around under your eaves, you’ll keep them away from looking for nesting sites under your roof.
Use fake nests in tree branches to keep your yard fee of nests, and you can even hang a fake nest from your patio umbrella to keep wasps from coming close to your table.
The most effective time of year to use a fake nest is in the spring when a queen is looking for a location to build her nest. Deter her from your property with some well placed fakes and she’ll go and search elsewhere.
If you live in an urban or suburban area with other properties close by, tell your neighbors about fake nests, or just give them a few, so that they can keep the queens from nesting on their properties too. The fewer wasps nests in your area, the more enjoyable your summer will be.
To make a paper bag nest, use a brown paper bag and crumple it up, then blow into the bag to poof it out. Tie the bag with string and hang it up outdoors. Paper bag fake nests are good for sheltered areas where they won’t get ruined by rain, or for using when you have a spell of dry weather.
3. Keep Them Out Of Your House With A simple Trick
Because of the way their eyes work, insects like wasps, flies and mosquitoes can be kept away from open doorways with a Ziplock bag, some water and a shiny penny.
All you do is fill the bag with water, drop the penny inside and hang the bag up wherever you need it.
The theory is that the pests view this deterrent as a spider’s web that they could get entangled in. Another theory holds that the reflection off the water is too bright for their eyes, making them turn away and head elsewhere. I’m not sure about that one though, because they aren’t deterred by the bright light of a torch beam.
4. Time Your Attack Appropriately
If you’re trying to eradicate an existing nest, don’t attempt to do so in the middle of the day when the wasps are at their most active.
The best time of day is after dark, and even then you need to wear sturdy clothing to make sure that you don’t get stung by the wasps that emerge to defend their nest.
Alway stand well back from the nest and make sure that you have a clear path of retreat. Keep your pets safely indoors when you attempt to tackle a wasp nest.
5. Spray Hanging Nests With Dish Soap
There’s no need to use toxic sprays to get rid of wasps, plain old dish soap and your garden hose will do the job. You’ll need a hose end sprayer too.
Fill the hose end sprayer with water and add some dish soap. Let the hose run to build up plenty of suds, then stand well back from the nest and douse it with the foamy spray. The dish soap will coat the wasps and their wings. They won’t be able to fly out and attack you and the coating of dish soap makes it so that they can’t breathe. The majority of the wasps in the nest will suffocate and the survivors will abandon the nest.
6. Block Off Underground Nests
When you find underground nests near your home, it’s quite easy to eradicate the wasps. First you need to observe the nest and identify all of their entrances. Then once it’s dark and the wasps are in for the night, carefully approach the nest. Use an upturned bowl or other similar container to cover the entrances of the nest. Work the bowl into the ground so that’s it’s set in firmly and so that there aren’t any spaces that the wasps can crawl through to escape.
Leave the bowls in place for several weeks to make sure that the adult wasps and any newly hatched wasps are all dead. You can speed things along by pouring soapy water into the nest before you block off the final hole.
7. Grow Plants That Deter Wasps
Add plants to your landscaping that deter wasps. Safe plants to use include mints, wormwood, citronella and eucalyptus bush.
Because your plants will be growing well during the part of the year that wasps are the most active, you can take cuttings and set them on your patio table or tie a bunch and hang them wherever you need them.
8. Make Wasp Traps
To trap the wasps that are currently bothering you, you can make simple and effective traps from household items. And because these trap are free, you can make as many as you need.
Make a Simple Bottle Trap
This trap is made from a two liter plastic soda bottle. The best bottles to use are ones that are straight sided rather than ones that have a molded body.
Use a sharp knife and carefully push the blade into the side of the bottle just below the point where the bottle curves up to the top. Cut around the bottle so that you have two pieces.
All you have to do now is put some bait into the bottle (ideas below) and then invert the top piece of the bottle and push it in the bottom piece. Discard the cap!
The wasps will easily enter the bottle to get at the bait but they can’t find their way back out again. Eventually they become exhausted and have no where to set down and rest so they fall into the liquid and drown. The traps will also catch flies as a bonus.
Set the trap or traps, out around your yard and close to your garbage cans. The wasps will be attracted to the traps and they’ll hopefully leave you alone, unless you’ve got a table laden with more appealing smelling food that catches their attention.
Bottle traps can also be hung up which makes them ideal for placing under your rafters and in the branches of trees. These hanging traps will catch queens that are looking for spots to build a nest in the spring, and you’ll also catch the queens in the fall when they’re looking for sheltered spaces to hibernate over the winter, which means you will have less queens to deal with the following year.
Don’t hang these traps near your doorways or any windows that you generally keep open. The bait will attract wasps, so you don’t want to draw them to your house and then have them tempted away from the trap by something inside.
Use a hanging trap out in your yard too. Hang it in tree branches or off a fence post to keep the wasps away from your children’s play area or your patio.
To hang the bottle trap all you need to do is make a hole in either side of the trap up near the top and then thread some string through. Make a knot and it’s ready to hang.
Depending on their needs the wasps will be attracted to different foods at different times, so use both sweet and savory baits.
You’ll need liquid in the bottle to catch and drown the wasps which can be any of the following:
- Water mixed with jam
- Water mixed with honey, syrup or molasses
- Soda pop (sugary kind not diet)
- Fruit juice
- Water with tuna fish
- Water with dog or cat food
- Water with a chunk of hamburger or other meat.
Once you get dead wasps in the trap, they will eventually rot if you don’t empty the trap.
A trap full of dead wasps smells really bad the second that you jostle it and disturb the contents. It’s a good idea to make a point of emptying the trap and replacing the bait once a week.
Make A Jar Trap
For this trap you need an empty glass or plastic jar with a lid.
Take a ¼ inch drill bit and make a hole in the lid. Fill the jar halfway with fruit juice or another sweet liquid. Smear some honey or jam or chocolate spread on the inside of the lid and then screw the lid on.
Set the trap wherever you need it.
9. Use A Repellant
Use this non toxic spray to blast wasps that come around, bothering you outside. You can also omit the soap to make a repellant to apply to your skin.
Non-Toxic Wasp Spray/Repellant
- 2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of peppermint essential oil
- 1 teaspoon of dish soap
Combine all of these ingredients together into a spray bottle. When a wasp settles on a surface near you, give it a heavy spray of the solution.
Once you’ve downed a wasp, carefully scoop it up with a piece of cardboard or a putty knife and throw it in the garbage. An injured or dying wasp releases pheromones that attract other wasps. If you’ve killed one wasp on your patio, you don’t want all of its friends showing up a few minutes later.
Whenever you have to do some work in your yard, mowing, planting, weeding, sprucing up the fence with a coat of paint, etc, just sit and watch the area where you need to work for a little while. If there are any wasps active around a nest in the area, you’ll see them. Take whatever measures you need to to deal with a ground or aerial nest and then wait a few days for it to work before you try to get on with your work.
A disturbed wasps nest is not something that you want to be anywhere near. I’ve been chased by a cloud of angry wasps and it was scary and very painful.
Home Remedy For A Wasp Sting
Along with pain and swelling, wasp stings can cause infection. Unlike bees that limit their activities to collecting pollen and nectar, wasps hang out in trash cans and in uncovered compost piles. This makes them a veritable bacteria factory, and when they sting you, they will transfer that bacteria into your skin.
Always wash the site of a sting well and apply antibacterial ointment or another form of wound disinfectant.
The pain of a wasp sting can be reduced by applying neat vinegar or lemon juice to the site of the sting. Soak a cotton ball in the liquid and then hold it over the sting.
Lavender essential oil is also a good remedy if you have some on hand. You can apply it to the sting undiluted quite safely. Lavender oil has natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Be careful with your pets too. Dogs tend to snap at anything buzzing around them and they then get a mouthful of stings for their efforts. It’s always a good idea to have Benadryl on hand in case their mouth swells up.
Employ the methods mentioned above and your active wasp population will be quite small and you will be able to enjoy your yard without being plagued by pests.