As the weather starts to brighten up you’ll be hearing that unnerving buzz flitting around your ear – catching a glimpse of a skinny yellow-and-black body! It can mean only one thing, it’s wasp season.
These little insects are the bane of most of our summers, the uninvited guest of any outdoor soiree. Not only are they noisy and annoying, but for most of us it’s the little sting in their tail that sends us screaming.
Your instant reaction might be to swat the irritant and get back to your BBQ in peace. But if you take any advice away from this piece, do not swat! Not only would it be unfair to these wasps who are actually a great source of gardening help – they’re pollinators and do a great job of controlling aphid. But also, when squashed they release a chemical alarm that signals to other wasps to attack. Not ideal.
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So if you dream of enjoying your Pimms in the garden without been harassed by a swarm of wasps, try a few of these tips on how to get rid of wasps.
How to get rid of wasps
1. Grow strong scented plants
‘Smells that can be used to discourage wasps from certain areas include tomato stems, fresh mint, ground coffee and cloves,’ says Catherine Alyons, buying director at Gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk.
A border filled with fresh mint will help prevent wasps from venturing into your garden. Alternatively, fill a window box with mint not only will the sweet smell waft into your home on a summers day, but it’ll be sure to keep the wasps at bay.
2. Avoid bright colours in the garden
If you regularly suffer from an incessant number of wasps in the garden, it might be an idea to give the bright flowers a miss. Catherine Alyons suggests: ‘steer clear of planting bright flowers in the garden which could attract hordes of them to your backyard.’
It might be a tough call to make if you are a huge fan of vibrant marigolds and dahlias, but it should help keep your garden wasp free.
3. Keep your food and drinks covered
It’s a good idea to try and keep any sweet drinks, jams and cakes away from the window if possible. Wasps – like most insects – have a real sweet tooth. But if you are determined to have a tea party outside, remember to keep the cake covered to avoid any gatecrasher wasps.
Wasps also love nothing more than a good rummage around your bins. Make sure you empty and wash bins regularly, and keeping bins away from windows to avoid attracting wasps into your home.
To solve more pest control problems read: How to get rid of ants – the safe and simple way
4. Scatter peppermint oil
According to a study in the journal of pest management science in 2013, peppermint oil is almost guaranteed to keep wasps away. Add a few drops of oil to tissues or cotton wool balls and place them around the garden in spaces between the decking, porch roofs, sheds and any other gaps were wasps can congregate.
You can use the same trick in your home if you keep catching them flitting around your kitchen.
5. Distract them with something sweet
‘Gardeners could also consider placing a small glass of orange juice in a remote corner of their garden to draw wasps away from an occupied area,’ says Catherine Alyons. This tip works best if you have a large garden space, and want to keep wasps away if you’re planning to have dinner in the garden.
If you don’t have any orange juice to spare, the tip will also work with overripe fruit, sugar water and banana skins too.
6. Burn citronella candles
This is a great tip for keeping not just wasps but all other insects away while you have a relaxing meal outside. You can find citronella candles in most supermarkets and hardware stores. They often already come in pretty containers, but you can also buy them as tea lights and use your own candle holders. If you find the scent is a little too strong to have on the table, why not try popping some of the tea lights in small terracotta plant pots around the dining area, just remember to blow them out before you go inside.
7. Avoid leaving the outside lights on
Try to not leave your outside lights on any longer than necessary. Lights will attract insects and that includes wasps who prey on them.
While we believe killing wasps should really be a last resort if you have tried everything to stop the wasps coming into your garden, but you still seem to be ducking from them every few minutes you might have a nest, and it might be time to take more drastic action…
8. Place sugar and water traps
Place either a solution of sugar and water inside an open bottle. The sticky mixture will attract the wasp, who will crawl inside and likely become trapped and die. You can buy a variety of wasps traps that perform this function with more easily removable tops so you could release the wasp after it becomes trapped if you wish.
But please remember that the wasp will not be in the best mood if you choose to do this, so please be extremely careful and avoid if you have an allergy to wasp stings.
9. Call in the professionals
If you do have an active nest in your garden in a hard to reach place call in a professional to remove it. Dealing with a nest yourself can cause all sorts of dangers. If you attempt to destroy or dislodge the nest yourself the wasps might swarm to defend it’s home.
Smoking wasps out is another tip often handed out as a way to get rid of them, but we’d advise leaving this to professionals as the fires can easily get out of control.
To tackle another annoyance: How to get rid of fleas – for a happier home and healthier pets
So remember to ditch the fly swatter, and hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy a sweet treat in the garden this summer.