Sting-Proof Your Garden With These Tips
It never fails: Once temperatures start rising, you inevitably step into your garden to a persistent, tell-tale buzzing and zipping. All it takes is one sting to develop a healthy respect for all manner of wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. So keeping your outdoor spaces free of them is a priority. Read on for tips on how to rid your garden of wasps and hornets, and check out our guides for the best bug sprays and bug zappers to help with other home and garden pests you might be fighting off.
What’s the difference between a wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket?
While often confused, they do vary in a few ways. The first is size: Wasps are smaller, anywhere from one centimeter to two-and-a-half centimeters, while hornets are larger, at about one to one-and-a-half-inches long. Unlike bees, which are important pollinators wasps and hornets are carnivorous; they prey on smaller insects like aphids and houseflies (so they are beneficial in their own way). Wasps love your sugary drinks and may hover over your picnic pickings hoping for a taste.
While it's possible to get rid of wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets on your own, remember that they can be dangerous, especially in large numbers, so if you're in doubt, it's best to call a professional to help. Of course, if you are allergic to wasp or bee stings, you need to take precautions and seek outside help. If you feel confident handling your situation, read on for tips that can help with removal.
How to get rid of wasps
First off: Don’t swat at them! Swatting at a wasp tells it to release pheromones that will trigger other nearby wasps to perceive you as a threat, exactly what you don’t want to happen.
Yellow Jacket Traps
If you’re working ahead and trying to prevent a nest from forming, you can try putting up a fake nest to deter a real one from forming (wasps are territorial). If you already have a nest that you need to be rid of, you first need to evaluate the size of the nest. Is it small (just a few to a dozen cells)? If so, you can suit up (long sleeves, pants tucked into your socks, a head net, gloves) and knock the nest down during the coolest time of day and destroy it. If it’s larger, set up multiple wasp traps a good distance away from your home, and follow the instructions on the trap.
Or you can take a DIY approach and make your own trap by cutting a two-liter plastic bottle in two above the label. Take the cap off the top of the bottle. Place bait - fruit juice, canned cat food, raw meat, overripe fruit, etc. - in the bottom of the bottle. Turn the top of the bottle upside-down and place it inside the bottom portion of the bottle. Tape the edges together. Place the trap away from your home (say, 20 feet away). Once it’s full, freeze it to kill the contents, which you can compost afterward.
If your wasp nest is in an area of your property where it isn’t a risk and you won’t disturb it, you can opt to leave it be. Just be sure to keep your garden clean of fruit or rubbish, which could draw them closer to your home.