Steps to keep wasps away naturally

How to Keep Wasps Away: Steps, Traps and a Repellent. Oh My.

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As a kid, I got stung on the neck by a wasp—a dangerous location even for someone not allergic to their venom. It happened again on my arm as an adult. The pain and swelling made me get serious about learning how to keep wasps away. Sting me once, shame on them. Sting me twice… well, you get it.

So, settle in while I explain how to repel wasps in a variety of ways, including the use of decoys, traps, and DIY wasp-repellent sprays. By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to keep them away from you and yours. Naturally.

Signs of a Wasp Problem

Did you know wasps pose more than a threat of painful stings? They also pose a threat to your property. That’s because they like to build nests in hard to reach areas, like inside walls or attics. And guess what they make their nests from? Insulation and wood, which they get by chewing on your home.

Finding wasps inside your home is a sign you need to check your home’s exterior for those hard to reach nests. Wasps can enter your home through a hole as small around as a pencil, so look closely.

  • Check the exhaust fan vents on your roof and your skylight seals.
  • Make sure your chimney flue is closed.
  • Look for gaps or cracks in your home’s siding or where pipes enter and caulk them.

How to Stop Wasps from Building Nests

The best way to keep wasps from nesting on your property is by keeping the queen from getting comfortable. She wakes up in early spring (April) and that’s when she starts looking around for a place to lay her eggs. So your mission is to prevent that.

Decoy nests

Using a decoy nest can trick wasps into thinking they’re on another colony’s turf. Since wasps are highly territorial, the real ones will steer clear of the decoy. You can make fake wasp nests from crumpling paper bags, then hang them from trees and near the eaves of your home. Rather be fancy? You can also buy fake wasp nests made from materials like glass or bamboo.

Decoy Wasp Nests

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If you’ve ever used WD-40, you know it has a distinct odor. Wasps don’t like the smell of it either, so you can use it to your advantage. To repel wasps with WD-40, attach the long nozzle to the can and spray your home’s eaves and overhangs. Watch out for over-spray, which can damage unfinished wood. Reapply WD-40 every few weeks during the nesting season (April through September).

Keep Wasps Away from Your Pool

Wasps like pools for the same reasons we do — they want to stay cool on hot summer days. It’s not just milkshakes that bring them to the yard: brightly colored toys or bathing suits, and sweet summer treats like ice cream and popsicles attract wasps, too.

If you’re not willing to give up pool time, surround it with plants that repel instead of attract them, and set out DIY wasp traps to ensure a safe, enjoyable swimming experience.

Plants that repel

Save the sweetly fragrant, brightly colored stuff for another spot in your yard. To keep wasps away from your pool and outdoor seating, opt for mint (any variety), lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus—all known to repel wasps as well as mosquitoes. Yay!

Depending on your gardening zone, these plants may be perennial, so you would only need to plant them once to keep repelling wasps for years to come.

Use homemade wasp traps

There’s something satisfying about watching a homemade wasp trap fill up over the course of the day. Or maybe I’m just salty about those two stings. Regardless, these things work, so I put several wasp traps out at least 8 feet from the pool or wherever we’re sitting.

To make a wasp trap, swirl together 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. Put the DIY wasp trap in a calm spot away from your pool and seating areas.

The sugar water will attract the wasps into the bottle, while the soap traps and suffocates them. Before disposing of the bottle, make sure there are no survivors then discard it in a tightly sealed plastic bag to avoid getting stung.

Keep Wasps Away from Your BBQ or Picnic

When you’re enjoying a BBQ or picnic, the last thing you want is a pesky swarm ruining the fun. As mentioned, I set out several wasp traps to lure them away from our seating. The for added protection, I use meat decoys and cover the food.

Meat decoys

Wasps love meat more than a Crossfit enthusiast doing keto. You can leverage this love by hanging a chicken drumstick or strip of steak on a tree branch away from your BBQ or picnic areas. Sure, the neighbors might think you’ve lost it, but it will keep the wasps away.

Another option is to make one of the liquid wasp traps above but put it in a wide-mouthed jar and add a chunk of meat that just slightly sticks up above the waterline. The greedy wasps will swarm and knock each other into the water, and they won’t come out again.

Cover food

Eating al fresco comes with many pleasures and many nuisances. Among the latter are how not just wasps but bees will swarm to get your food. I suppose, depending on where you are, seagulls might be a problem, too. Or bears, but this solution won’t work on them.

Keep wasps from swarming your food y using net or mesh lids to cover serving trays and bowls. Then, throw napkins over your beverages when you’re not actively drinking them. Wasps are notorious for climbing into open containers and stinging the unexpected sipper on the lip.

Put a lid on It

Even when you think you’ve finished eating, wasps still find plenty to like about your empty plates, food wrappers, bottles and cans. So keep a tight lid on your trash and recycling containers, and set them up away from your seating or you’ll have wasps and bees for company. (Maybe even seagulls or bears.)

Keep Wasps Away from You

Just as wasps avoid certain plants, there are fragrances that repel them, 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

To make a quick wasp-repellent spray, fill a spray bottle with 1 cup of warm water and 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.

The soap helps the scented oil mixture cling to the surface where the smell of it makes wasps stay away. Reapply every hour to ensure continued effectiveness, but keep this one away from pets. There are other things safer to use if your fur babies like to lick furniture.

Pet-safe sprays to deter wasps

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

  • Soapy water: Keep a spray bottle on hand full of water and a tablespoon of dish soap, then use it to blast random wasps that buzz nearby.
  • 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.

Did You Know?

Wasps breathe through pores on their body known as spiracles. Spraying or trapping wasps with soapy water clogs their spiracles and suffocates them.

So there you have it, a wasp hater’s steps to keep wasps away from your home, pool, seating areas, person and pets. Can’t say it’ll help with the seagulls or bears, though. They’re nuts.

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  1. 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!!

  2. 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

  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. 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.

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