How to Keep Wasps Away from You and Your Home

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Closeup of wasp on top of uncovered pop can shows the importance of repelling wasps from picnics and BBQsPin

Wasp stings are painful and can be dangerous for someone allergic to their venom. Wasps also pose a threat to your property because they build nests in hard to reach areas, such as inside walls or attics, using a combination of chewed-up wood fibers and other materials. Over time, these nests become large. To make room for them, wasps may chew through your home’s insulation to make tunnels for their larvae, and even through your walls.

Fortunately, there are ten steps you can take to keep wasps from nesting near your home and away from areas where you spend time outdoors, like your pool or patio area. In this article, you’ll learn how to repel wasps in a variety of ways, including the use of decoys, traps, and DIY wasp-repellent sprays.

Signs of a wasp problem

Finding wasps indoors regularly is a sign you need to inspect your home’s exterior. To prevent wasps from entering your home, examine the exhaust fan vents on your roof for signs of nesting, ensure your skylight seals are intact and your chimney flue is closed, repair any holes in window screens, and caulk gaps or cracks in your home’s siding or where pipes enter. Remember that wasps can enter through a hole as small as a pencil, so be sure to inspect your home’s exterior closely.

How to Stop Wasps from Building Nests

Early spring (April) is when the wasp queen wakes up from winter and starts building a nest to lay her eggs. Wasps prefer to nest in high locations that are unlikely to be disturbed, such as eaves, overhangs, tree branches, and low-lying spots in yards. To keep wasps away from your home, preventing the queen from establishing a nest early in the season is key. Regularly inspecting your home’s exterior and sealing gaps and cracks can help deter wasps from nesting. Using decoys or applying WD-40 can also discourage wasps from building nests near your home.

Decoy nests

Decoy wasp nest trick wasps into thinking another colony has already established itself in the area. Since wasps are highly territorial, using a decoy deters wasps from building new nests nearby. You can make fake wasp nests from crumpling paper bags or purchase fake nests made from materials like glass or bamboo.


WD-40 is a common household spray that can repel wasps because of its distinct odor. To use it, attach the long nozzle that comes with the can and spray your home’s eaves and overhangs. But watch out for over-spray, which can damage unfinished wood and leave smears on glass. To continually deter wasps from nesting near your home, reapply WD-40 every few weeks during the nesting season (April through September).

See my favorite natural pest control products.

Keep Wasps Away from Your Pool

Wasps like pools for the same reasons we do — they want to stay cool on hot summer days. Brightly colored toys or bathing suits, and sweet summer treats like ice cream and popsicles also bring wasps to the pool. If you’re not willing to give up pool time, surround it with plants that repel wasps instead of attracting them, and set out DIY wasp traps to ensure a safe, enjoyable swimming experience.

Grow plants that repel wasps

To repel wasps, avoid planting fragrant and brightly colored flowers near your pool and other outdoor areas. Instead, opt for mint (any variety), lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus, which are all known to repel not only wasps but also mosquitoes. Depending on your gardening zone, these plants may be perennial, meaning you would only need to plant them once to keep repelling wasps for years to come.

Use homemade wasp traps

To make a wasp trap, mix 4 ounces of warm water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a long-necked 16-20 ounce bottle. Swirl the mixture gently, then place the bottle in a calm spot to draw wasps away from your pool. The sugar water will attract the wasps into the bottle, while the soap traps and suffocates them. Before disposing of the bottle, make sure all the wasps are dead, and discard it in a tightly sealed plastic bag to avoid getting stung.

recipe for homemade wasp repellent sprayPin

Keep Wasps Away from Your BBQ or Picnic

When you’re enjoying a BBQ or picnic, the last thing you want is a swarm of pesky wasps ruining the fun. Fortunately, using the wasp trap method is an effective way to keep them at bay during your outdoor gatherings. But for added protection, use meat decoys and cover your food.

Use decoys

One way to make a wasp decoy is to take advantage of their love for protein, particularly raw meat. Hang a chicken leg or strip of raw steak from a tree branch away from your BBQ or picnic area to draw the wasps away from your gathering. Another option is to make a liquid trap using the method mentioned earlier, but with a large-mouthed jar and a chunk of raw meat sticking above the waterline. As the wasps swarm around the meat, they will knock each other into the water, where the soap will suffocate and trap them. Be sure to properly dispose of the trap to avoid any accidental stings.

Cover your food

To keep wasps away from your outdoor food, use net or mesh lids to cover serving trays and bowls. Be sure to also cover your beverages to avoid attracting wasps and bees. It’s important to keep a tight lid on trash, recycling, and compost containers, and to keep these receptacles away from seating areas to prevent wasps from being attracted to the area. By following these steps, you can enjoy your cookout or picnic with no unwanted guests.

Keep Wasps Away from You

Just as wasps avoid certain plants, there are scents that repel wasps, too. Mint is one of them, and you can add peppermint oil to homemade cleaners to deter wasps and other types of household pests. Other essential oils that wasps avoid include clove, geranium, lemongrass, and rosemary. In fact, a study showed that a combination of these oils completely deters them. However, be cautious when using this spray around pets or if you have allergies.

DIY wasp-repellant spray

You can make a quick wasp-repellent spray, by filling a spray bottle with 1 cup of warm water and adding 2 drops of liquid dish soap or baby shampoo. Then, add 2 drops each of clove, geranium, lemongrass, and rosemary essential oils. Gently swirl the mixture and spritz it around the edges of your seating area. Reapply every hour to ensure continued effectiveness.

Pet-safe sprays to deter wasps

The essential oils used to repel wasps are not safe for pets to ingest, so pet owners may want to stick with these methods:

  • Soapy water: For a quick way to eliminate one or two random wasps, fill a spray bottle with water and add a tablespoon of dish soap. Use this to spray random wasps that buzz nearby. Wasps breathe through pores on their body known as spiracles. Spraying them with soapy water clogs the spiracles and suffocates them.
  • Hairspray: A blast of hairspray can also neutralize a wasp quickly. It won’t actually destroy them, but the spray’s stickiness will force it to land and keep it from flying away, then you can safely smash it.

Helpful Tips

The best way to protect yourself from wasps is by not attracting them.

  • Avoid wearing bright or floral clothing, as these can attract wasps.
  • Keep food and beverages covered when eating outside, and use decoys to lure them away from your seating areas.
  • If you see a wasp, remain calm. Swatting at wasps makes them aggressive.
  • Keep a spray bottle of soapy water nearby when you are outdoors to neutralize wasps quickly and safely.
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  1. Peppermint oil does not work! I’ve applied it all around a window and they still proceeded to find a way inside. On the bright side, I haven’t seen one Yellow Jacket so far.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yellow jackets are evil, too!

  2. Gayle Dillman says:

    Hello, does the color of wasp decoy bags matter?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Not that I know of. Some of those for sale are yellow, but actual wasp nests are brown. I’ve had equal luck with the yellow ones and my DIY ones made from crumpled paper bags.

  3. Thank you for these wasp tips. We deal with them every year due to our pool. I am reluctant to spray in fear of harming our wanted pollinators. I will be using the trap method, and spray bottle with caution due to my pup. Also will use some of that WD 40 we have and never use on our eaves.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I hope they help! Wasps are no fun.

  4. Cutting the ivy on the side of the garage I cut through a wasp nest several stings later I returned and sprayed the area with diluted washing up liquid then smashed the nest to pieces.I Hate wasps

  5. Nicole Neuhaus says:

    Just a THANK YOU, my husband developed a serious allergy and I have been trying to find out how to get them away! I will try anything, so just thank you for sharing!!