Protect bees, prevent stings – how to keep wasps out of your garden
Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, or just love the outdoors, wasps in the garden are less than ideal. Painful stings are the most obvious downside, but wasps can also pose a significant threat to bees and hives.
Many species of wasp will attack hives, eat eggs and larvae, kill bees, and take honey. If you’re a beekeeper, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep wasps away.
There isn’t one fool-proof way to keep wasps out of your garden – or get rid of them once they’re in – but there are a number of methods that you can try.
Prevention and protection
It’s always better to prevent problems, rather than dealing with them after the fact. If you make your garden unattractive to wasps, then you’re less likely to have an issue.
One long term method is growing plants such as citronella, eucalyptus, mint, and wormwood, which have scents that naturally repel wasps.
It’s also important to keep on top of food sources in the garden, because certain types of food – usually sweet foods and meats – are appealing to wasps. Don’t leave food lying around, seal your rubbish and compost bins well, and keep pet food inside if possible. If you have fruit trees in your garden, gather fallen fruit quickly so it doesn’t get the chance to rot.
A fake wasp nest sounds silly, but because wasps are territorial, they can be pretty effective at keeping wasps away. Make your own nest using a crumpled paper bag on a string, or buy one.
A trap can be an effective way to keep the wasp population down. Fewer wasps means they’re less likely to build a nest and settle into your garden for good.
Buy a commercial trap, NoPests® Wasp Dome Trap available here, or make one yourself using simple household items including a plastic drink bottle, detergent, and Sellotape. To make sure you’re trapping wasps and not honeybees, use a savoury, meat-based bait.
Getting rid of the nest
If you do find a wasp nest in your garden, don’t panic. With care, you should be able to remove it before the wasps do too much damage.
Removing a nest is risky, so make sure you’re wearing protective clothing – including a veil and mask. Approach the nest early in the morning or at dusk – the wasps should be less active at these times.
When you’ve identified the nest, spray it with insecticide spray. Stay at a safe distance to avoid inhaling spray or being stung. If you can’t use insecticide for some reason, use a mixture of detergent and water to spray the nest and any stray wasps. This will dry on the wasps’ wings and weigh them down, so they’re unable to feed.
If you find an underground or inaccessible nest, pour soapy water or spray insecticide into the hole, then block exits with stones or soil.
You may not be able to get rid of every single wasp in your garden, but protecting bees – and avoiding a nasty sting – is worth the effort.