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Looking for a way to safely kill wasps?
Quite by accident, I found a way to safely kill hornets, wasps, and similar pests. Sure, you can use those spray bombs but even those make us a bit nervous we will get stung by angry wasps.
If you do use a spray bomb, make sure to wait until later at night. By then, most, if not all, of the wasps will have returned to the wasp nest for the night. That’s the very best way to be ensure killing as many wasps as possible.
However, the following method works as well to safely kill hornets, wasps, yellowjackets, and more! 🙂 It’s dead simple, cheap, and will help you avoid stings and angry swarms. Plus, you won’t have to pay for a professional exterminator!
How to Safely Kill Hornets and Wasps
These mean guys are attracted to beer, and I found that out by accident. That year we had a real invasion of wasps; every several years we seem to get a much worse year than others. And that year, they were everywhere.
It was so bad, there were times we could not even sit on the porch overlooking the garden. There were that many wasps. And they seemed angry.
You know why they were angry? Because we weren’t letting them have our beer! So, if you’re in a group of friends, having a beer and the wasps arrive, just realize they want your beer.
What are Wasps Exactly?
These winged insects are part of the suborder Apocrita from the order Hymenoptera. They’re somewhere between a bee and an ant. To determine whether an insect is a wasp, look for a body sectioned into a head following by a thorax and an abdomen, separated by a thin waist. Wasps have 6 legs, 2 wings, and 2 antennae, and, of course, they possess a stinger.
While most wasps can technically pollinate like bees, they’re more known for killing and eating other insects. They make their nests out of wood pulp, so a wasp nest is typically fairly easy to pick out.
Common Types of Wasps
- Bald Faced Hornet – Has a smooth body with black and white markings. Somewhat similar to yellow jackets and tend to appear in the late summer in the US.
- Yellow Jacket – Commonly found throughout the summer and fall, yellow jackets are fairly small and have distinctive black and yellow banding on their abdomens. They tend to build their nests in the ground, but not exclusively.
- European Hornet – Also sometimes called the giant hornet, this species is brown with yellow stripes and build nests in tree or wall cavities.
- European/English Wasp – Similar species, the main difference is the black spotting that the European wasp has on its yellow banding. These wasps tend to prefer garages, lofts, and sheltered areas for nests.
- Paper Wasp – This species builds umbrella-shaped nests out of paper and wood pulp. They’re typically brown with yellow markings, and some can have red markings as well.
- Mud Dauber – Solitary wasps that build nests from mud. This unique species has a long and thin attachment from its thorax to its abdomen, making it easy to identify.
Why are Wasps Attracted to Beer?
Some people think that the reason wasps are attracted to beer is because they have been eating fruit in the summer. Then as the season gets later, fruit still on trees and shrubs starts to decay.
Fruit of course has a lot of natural sugars so when it starts to decay, it starts to begin the fermentation process. The wasps are attracted to the taste.
And then, along comes someone with an open beer! Beer also contains sugars. And beer also has fermented. So the beer serves as a wasp attractant, right?
Here’s a Dead Simple Wasp Trap
So now on hot summer afternoons when they are wasps or hornets out, I make sure I place a few tall glasses filled less than one-quarter full with our homemade beer.
Mason jars work great for these, especially if you use the quart sized mason jars. Pint mason jars will work too but you want to be sure the walls are high enough so the wasps won’t be able to climb out of the jar to freedom.
Or you can try the specialized long range wasp sprays over on Amazon; these do work well. Just remember to do the spraying later in the evening.
And, don’t stick around to see what happens. Spray and get moving back into the house or other building. Spraying won’t kill all the wasps in the trap instantly. Some will immediately fly out and they will be angry. So get inside as soon as possible. Spray and move!
But, why not just try the dead simple wasp trap instead? Give it a try – place some partial cups of beer in a few choice places where you see hornets or wasps hanging around.
You should find it’s the easiest way to safely kill wasps. Just walk away and enjoy the rest of that beer.
More Tips for Wasp Removal
- Wear protective clothing. Make sure to wear long sleeves and long pants. This will give the wasps less opportunities to find a place to sting you!
- Find ways to prevent wasps from coming round in the first place. There are certain smells they’ll be repelled by. Try to prevent them from getting into eaves, fill up any cracks or wall cavities, check any shed or outdoor structure. If you can prevent nest building from starting to begin with, it will be easier to deal with the wasps.
- Another quick and easy way to get rid of wasps: garbage bags. Wait until it’s evening and the wasps are asleep. Wrap a garbage bag over the nest and seal it as tightly as you can. Remove the nest and quickly transfer to a trash can with a tight-fitted lid.
- Be sure to clean up any spills as soon as they happen, indoors or outdoors. This is especially important when it comes to sweet drinks or foods that are rich in protein.
How do you kill wasps without getting stung?
If there’s a large nest of them, I recommend following some of the tips listed above to prevent being stung. If you’re dealing with just one wasp or two that’s gotten into your house, there are other options. Use a spray bottle with some kind of pest control spray. This kind of insecticide can typically be found at the hardware store.
But if you don’t have anything around like that, you could use something as common as Windex to get rid of wasps. The mixture of chemicals may not be designed to kill pests specifically, but it can work in a pinch.
Does dish soap kill wasps?
Yes, dish soap is a potential option for killing wasps. It can seep through their exoskeleton and drown them by clogging breathing pores.
For this option, mix about two tablespoons of dish soap with water in a spray bottle of some kind. Spray all over the wasp or nest and get back!
What smells do wasps hate?
If you don’t want to use any kind of chemicals or store-bought wasp killer, there are certain herbs and natural ingredients that can help keep wasps away to begin with. Among these are clove, geranium, and lemongrass. Use essential oils for a strong and potent dose of the scent.
Wasps also hate the scent of mint, so something like peppermint oil will work.
If you’re worried about wasps being attracted to you specifically, be sure to avoid wearing cologne or perfume, as this can attract them.
Can I make a homemade wasp repellent?
Absolutely! Here’s a recipe for another repellent using more natural ingredients. Just mix together one cup of water with two cups of apple cider vinegar and two cups of sugar. This will attract the wasps, but they’ll end up drowning in the mixture.
Are there any bees you shouldn’t kill?
Yes, some bees are next to harmless and are important for things like pollination. Gentler bees like bumblebees, carpenter bees, and honeybees should be left alone. They tend to be less aggressive than wasps anyway and will only sting you unless they absolutely have to.
It can be hard to determine what kind of bees are safe to have around, as they all tend to have the same yellow bodies with black markings. As a general rule of thumb, if the bee is fuzzy, it’s a pollinator and should be left alone.
But a sleek and shiny bee is likely a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket. These are not as good at pollinating (some species don’t pollinate at all) and are much more territorial about their nests.
There are also some species of wasps, like mud daubers, that are good for pest control. They kill spiders and other insects which can help keep the pest population down, so you may find it worthwhile to coexist with them.
Will a wasp sting you if you’re still?
This largely depends on what you were doing previous to standing still! If you’ve provoked a wasp or wasp nest, staying still might not keep you safe from stings. However, if there’s a wasp around and you do your best to ignore it, odds are it will leave you alone.
Can wasps sting multiple times?
Yes, one of the reasons wasps are such pests is their ability to sting more than once. Gentler bees like honeybees are unique in that they can only sting once, and then typically their stinger falls out and they may even die.
Wasps on the other hand can sting multiple times, and they also inject a venom when they sting. This is why it’s extremely important to avoid being stung, as wasp stings are much more painful than bee stings.
If you’re allergic to wasp stings, I recommend having a professional deal with the wasps rather than do it yourself.
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(originally published 2013; updated 2023)