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While some wasps are regarded as beneficial to the environment, they can pose threats to your household if they build their nests close to your home such as your garden. Wasp stings are painful and can be dangerous especially to people who are allergic to their stings. This can lead to serious medical conditions and may even result to a fatality due to extreme allergic reactions. To prevent future problems, it becomes necessary to eliminate them.
Types of Wasps
Before you get rid of those flying black and yellow insects in your garden, make sure that you’re in fact dealing with wasps and not with a beehive of honeybees. Generally, bees are garden-friendly, and they don’t nest near residential areas. However, when provoked, bees can become aggressive, too.
Wasps, on the other hand, come in two types: social and solitary wasps.
This is the type that people should be concerned about. They build nests from wood scrapings, paper and cardboard, and are commonly found in walls, roof spaces, hedges, attics, trees and even underground. They tend to be a serious threat because their population can reach staggering proportions, reaching as much as 10,000 per nest. The kinds of wasps that belong to this type include yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps.
As their name implies, these are the “loner” types which are much more passive than their social counterpart. They normally build their small nests in four locations: wood or mud, holes left by other insects, inside their prey (e.g. caterpillar), and in tunnels they build underground. The kind of wasp that does not cause much problem to humans includes the mud wasp – mud daubers, potter wasp and pollen wasp.
Safety Measures to Follow
If you are certain that you are dealing with wasps, then provided below are natural ways to get rid of them. Nonetheless, before you even set out to deal with these insects, it is essential to take certain precautionary measures.
- Make sure that you are not allergic to their sting.
- Wear protective clothing: long sleeves or sweater, long jeans, socks and boots, eye protection (goggles), gloves, and something to cover your neck and face.
- Avoid wearing perfume or any flowery scent.
- Prepare a proper first aid kit.
- Be prepared. Wasps can sting multiple times, unlike bees that can only sting once. So, make sure you have an exit point, and medical help is accessible in case needed.
- It may be also a good idea to have an Epipen on hand, in case you or someone in your party has an severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
Getting Rid of Wasps in Your Garden
If at all possible, employ natural or eco-friendly ways when getting rid of wasps in your garden. There are several effective commercial insecticides available in the market, but most of these may also be poisonous to other beneficial insects, to plants and even to humans when too much is inhaled. Below are some natural remedies:
Deter Them from Your Yard
The best way to deal with the problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Like many insects, wasps are attracted to food, especially sugary and meaty products (including pet food). Make sure that no food is left lying around and that your garbage bins are tightly sealed. They can also be attracted to sweet juices from fallen fruits, so make sure that these are immediately picked up and taken out of your yard. Additionally, you can also grow plants that naturally deter wasps such as eucalyptus, citronella, mint and wormwood.
Put Up a Fake Nest
Another possible preventive measure is to put up a fake nest. Wasps are very territorial, and it is likely that they will not build a nest in a place they think is already under another colony. There are several online retailers that sell fake wasp nests, or you can build your own. You can simply crumple a paper bag, attach it to a twig and place it in a visible location.
Get Rid of the Nest
With your protective clothing on, do a thorough survey for heavy wasp traffic. It is ideal to do this during dawn or dusk when they are back in their nest and are least active. Once you’ve spotted their nest, carefully approach at a safe distance and spray the nest with a liberal amount of natural insecticide spray. If you do not have such insecticide, you can actually use a solution of dishwasher soap (and other detergents you use at home) and water. With a hose-end sprayer connected to your garden hose, spray liberally on the nest. The soap will attach on their wings and weigh them down, until they eventually die.
As mentioned earlier, wasps can also build nests underground. To get rid of these, you can block all possible entrances and exits with dirt, large boulder or bowl. To make the process more effective, pour in a soapy solution (preferable hot) into the hole before sealing it shut. This will kill all the wasps in the nest, and the few ones that may survive will surely stay out of your yard!
Set Up a Wasp Trap
If you want to reduce the population of wasps in your garden or prevent them from building a nest, you can set up a trap. There are several commercial traps in the market. Make sure to use savoury baits such as meat or tuna, and not sugary baits that usually attract honeybees more than wasps.
You can also build your own simple wasp trap by following these instructions:
- Take a 2-litre soda bottle and cut off the top portion, about 5 inches from the top.
- Fill the bottle halfway and add dish washing soap and stir. Smear some wasp attractant or any flavorful bait inside the bottle.
- Take the top you initially cut off and secure it back onto the bottle in an inverted fashion. You may use staples or tapes to securely attach the inverted top.
- Smear a little more wasp attractant over the entrance of the bottle.
- Place the trap in a visible location or in the area where you noticed flying wasps. The trap works by attracting wasps to enter the bottle. But once they are inside, they will not be able to figure their way out due to the inverted conical entrance. They will eventually tire, fall off into the soapy solution and die.
- Regularly clean and replace the wasp trap to make it more effective.
These are just a few of the natural ways you can do to get rid of wasps in your garden. Although these may sound easy, always proceed with caution. In the event that you are allergic to bee/wasp stings or are simply incapable of these procedures, it would be best to hire the service of professionals.