Wasp management

By Doug Williams
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Wasp management

Doug Williams
 
 
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Should you enjoy picnicking in your garden or sitting on your deck for sundowners and snacks, you may well find that such pleasant activities are spoiled by the intrusion of wasps!  This creature, while being of great value as a pollinator and for ridding your garden of a multitude of little pests, can give you a very nasty sting! There are a number of things one can do, however, to be able to continue such al fresco activities without fear.

 

There are a number of things one can do, however, to be able to continue such al fresco activities without fear.

Avoid attracting them to your house

Don’t make your home an attractive nesting site

 

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The first step would be to keep the wasps from building nests near to your home. So, ensure that there are no food sources to sustain them. Wasps are largely attracted by sweet items such as rotting fruit, vegetable matter, dogs’ food, sweet or sugary picnic foods, as well as juices, fizzy drinks, ice cream, and chocolate – even wine and beer! None of these foods should be left lying about uncovered.

 

If you’re outside with food, it’s worth making sure that you keep it all in sealed containers and keep your drinks and juices covered when not in use, it’s really not pleasant gulping down an angry wasp that’s made its way into your can of soda.

Keep an eye open for any wasps lurking about. Check that your dustbins and trash bags are kept covered and well sealed, and if you’re at home, any rotting fruit under your trees should be removed and buried.

Remember, perfume and highly fragranced deodorants and creams also tend to attract wasps, so, when gardening on the deck or out for a picnic, dispense with them.

Hang a false nest

 

Since wasps are extremely territorial and fight off strangers, you can discourage them from nesting in your grounds by hanging false nests in likely places. This makes the wasp believe there are other wasp colonies nearby and they then seek a better place elsewhere.

You can buy fake nests, but it is quite easy to make your own false nest by crumpling a paper bag into a nest-like shape and hanging it from a suitable branch.

Mind your color choices

 

It seems that wasps tend to be attracted by yellow and white colors, so it would make sense to keep away from wearing those colors while out in the garden or out in the wilderness. It is also said that red is a color they cannot see, so if that’s your favorite color – wear it!

Stay calm and use a water spray

 

Do not flap and wave your arms in a panic at a nearby wasp, you’ll only irritate it, making you more likely to be stung. Rather stay calm and still or slowly walk away. Be careful if you kill a wasp, particularly if you squash it, when wasps are killed, especially squashed, it releases a pheromone which draws other wasps to attack.

If a wasp is worrying you, yet you would prefer not to kill it, keep a spray bottle filled with water to hand. You can spray the wasp which will then struggle to fly when saturated, this is likely to drive it off, or you can trap it in a container and release it when you have finished your meal.

How to get rid of a nest

 

If the wasps do build a nest near your home, you will probably have to get rid of it. The nests, usually gray or black, are generally found underground, in a tree or tucked into the eaves of a garage or shed.

Using natural methods to get rid of wasps is preferable, besides saving you money and being eco-friendly, it may well help avoid any stings for you.

Use a plastic bag

 

If it is possible, place a plastic bag over the entire nest, tie it securely, cut down the nest and then safely dispose of the whole. It is preferable to work at night when the wasps are inside the nest and are calm but make sure you wear sufficient protection in case there are some wasps still around.

Natural wasp killer

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You can buy non-toxic wasp killers, but it is easy to make a natural wasp killer by mixing dish-washing soap with hot water and putting that into a hose-end sprayer which allows you to keep a safe distance from the nest while dousing it with soapy water.

Again – spray at night when the wasps are inside the nest. The soapy water sticks on the wasps’ bodies, and clogs up their breathing tubes, so they actually drown.

Underground nests

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If the nest is underground, pour soapy water down the entrance hole, cover it securely with a bowl and leave it for about 14 days. Make sure you check for and seal any other entrances as well (there are usually two) and note that it is harmful to the environment to use petroleum based products for this purpose so please don’t.

Wasp Traps

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Wasp Traps are an option, non–toxic ones can be purchased and they are fairly easy to make. Using a 2 liter plastic bottle cut it in half, mix sugar with hot water, cool and pour into the lower half of the bottle. Sprinkle dry yeast on the water to produce carbon dioxide which attracts wasps. Secure the top half (with the lid off) of the plastic bottle, upside-down, in the bottom half of the bottle, leaving the ‘funnel’ open, wrap this trap in something yellow or white, as wasps seem to be attracted to these colors. Your trap will work well for about two weeks when it will need to be replaced.

 

 

Another, possibly easier method, is to fill a jar with water, put a flower pot on top, upside down, with jam (or anything sugary sweet) smeared along the under-edge of the hole. The wasps, lured by the jam, fall into the water and drown.

Use plants

 

It is not possible to get rid of every wasp, but there are some plants which have been proven to help repel these malevolent little stingers! Eucalyptus oil, smeared on the table where you are sitting is said to deter them, while some people think that a pot of mint placed on the table will also work.

Many people insist that planting any of the following herbs – Lavender, Lemongrass, Lemon, Thyme, Bay leaves, Chives, Fennel, Oregano, Parsley – have been shown to repel wasps.

If you don’t like any of these ideas, there are plenty of commercially obtainable repellents you can use, which claim to keep wasps at bay!

If all fails and you are stung

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If – in spite of all the precautions you have taken – you are stung by a wasp, use cotton-wool soaked in white vinegar and apply to the sting. Soaking the area in a bowl of water with some baking powder in it, or rubbing ice over the swelling will also ease the pain.

A slight swelling around the bite is a normal reaction, there are a number of available antihistamines and creams which will quickly reduce itchiness and swelling.

 

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However, should you start to feel dizzy, have difficulty in breathing or you have hives breaking out elsewhere on your skin, you should seek immediate medical attention.

 

 

At all times, remember it is better to let wasps and their nests well alone and be aware they might be around, unlike their cousins the bees, they do not die when they sting you so they can sting several times.

 

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