How To Get Rid of Wasps

Although we can’t entirely control stinging insects outside, we can minimize them in certain areas of our yards. You can take certain steps to prevent wasps from ruining your outdoor space.

Why are wasps hanging out in your yard? The following list provides some reasons why wasps may be attracted to your outdoor space:

  • They have a home there.
  • They have drinking water there.
  • They have food there.

Taking steps to minimize the things that attract wasps can help reduce these stinging insects from your yard.

Get Rid of Wasp Nests

Many types of wasps make homes in backyard trees, along fences, and under house eaves. If you have a lot of wasps in your yard, check to see if you have wasp nests. If you find a wasp nest, you should  remove it yourself or contact a pest management company (or a nice neighbor?).

The best time of day to remove a wasp nest is in the evening when wasps are less active. You can try squirting the nest down with a strong blast from your garden hose, or you can use an aerosol chemical spray from your local hardware store. Keep in mind that wasps are aggressive and may defend themselves against you. For more information about this step, check out detailed instructions for getting rid of a wasp nest.  

Reduce Excess Standing Water

Wasps like to stand and sip water. Wet pavement and beads of water on plants and lawn are ideal for them. Try fixing the direction of sprinklers or reducing the watering duration of your irrigation system if you have areas of pavement that accumulate water.

If you have a wasp problem on your lawn, they could be after the extra water or insects.

Move Flowering Plants Away from Certain Areas

Although wasps don’t gather pollen like bees do, wasps do like to sip nectar from flowers. You may want to keep certain areas of your yard free of flowering plants. For example, you could design your front porch and back patio with ornamental grasses, ferns, trees, and clipped shrubs and topiary.

Flowers that Don’t Attract Wasps

If you’d like to add a little color to our outdoor space but still minimize attracting stinging insects, try using the following flower types:

  • Red flowers. Bees and wasps don’t seek out red flowers. Try picking a warm red as opposed to a cool red. Bees and wasps can see the blue in some cool reds better than we can. They are attracted to blue, white, and yellow.
  • Closed and double-flowered plants (such as Roses, double Camellias, double Carnations, double Zinnia, and double Petunias). Bees and wasps find them too hard to access the nectar because of the extra petals.
  • Flowers that don’t produce very much nectar. Geranium (Pelargonium spp.), “Barlow” Columbine, and Begonias are low nectar flowers.
  • Marigolds. Many insects don’t like the smell.
  • Flowers that bloom in the winter or early spring when the wasps are hibernating. Try Camellia sasanqua, Cyclamen, and early-blooming varieties of Azaleas.
  • Flowers that bloom in the evening or are attractive to moths: Dianthus, Moonflower Vine, Evening Primrose, Honeysuckle, and Jasmine.

Plants that Attract Wasps

For the outdoor spaces that you want to avoid attracting wasps, do not plant flowers from the Parsley or Daisy family (Umbelliferae and Compositae). According to Cornell University in “Attracting Insects’ Natural Enemies,” the following flowers and herbs are some of the plants that will attract wasps to your yard: Queen Ann’s Lace, Parsley, Dill, Dahlias, Daisies, Asters, Cosmos, Tansy, and Yarrow.

Sunflowers, sweet alyssum, mint, and the flowers on Laurels are also favorites of wasps.

Treat Plants for Insect Pests

Are wasps hovering around a plant that doesn’t have flowers? Wasps may be after the insects on the plant. According to the Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research center, wasps eat spiders, caterpillars, ants, bees, and flies.

Wasps are lured to infected plants by a smell they emit when they are being damaged by pests. In Plant Volatiles as a Defense Against Insect Herbivors, Paul Pare and James Tumlinson write that “volatile terpenoids and other compounds emitted from leaves in response to insect damage allow insect parasitoids (such as parasitic wasps) and predators to distinguish between infested and noninfested plants.”

Wasps also eat the honeydew that some insects leave behind. For example, aphids leave a sugar treat on plants that attracts wasps (and ants).

Do you have a lot of wasps hovering over your lawn? They could be after water or Japanese beetles and grubs. Try reducing the amount of water for your lawn and eliminating any Japanese beetle and grub problems.

Eliminating the insects that are attacking your plants should also help you also eliminate wasps.

Prevent Wasps from Ruining your Outdoor Space

In summary, when you have an outdoor space where you’d like to reduce wasps, consistently check for wasp nests, avoid excess water, place plants that don’t attract stinging insects in “people places,” and take care of insect pests.