Natural Wasp Control

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Wasps, although annoying, should be thought of as beneficial insects.

They prey mainly on other insects, many of which are pests. In general, they avoid human activity and should only be considered a nuisance when nesting near homes or high traffic areas.
The best way to prevent unpleasant encounters with social wasps is to avoid them. If you know where they are, try not to go near their nesting places. Wasps can become very defensive when their nest is disturbed. If you cannot avoid them, first try repelling them using a fake nest such as the 'Bee Free Wasp Deterrent'. These fake nests work because wasps are territorial, and do not want to build a nest near another wasp's nest. Failing that, you can use a non-toxic wasp trap, such as the Glass Wasp Trap, or the Oak Stump Farms Trap.

Using pesticides to control wasps (yellowjackets) can be effective, but these chemicals are harmful to the environment. Careless use of pesticides can also pose risks to the person applying the chemicals.

Before reaching for pesticides, see if these safer, natural non-toxic methods help control wasp problems.

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Seal entry points.
Solitary wasps in the home can be a nuisance; daily sightings of wasps in the home may indicate inside nest building, and more attention to the problem is required. Searching for and sealing off their point of entry is the best line of defense. Check your house for unsealed vents, torn screens, cracks around windows and door frames and open dampers. Observe the flight path of a wasp, especially in the morning, which may reveal the entry/exit point.

Remove food sources. In spring and early summer, wasps are attracted to protein foods. Any food left outdoors, such as pet food, picnic scraps, open garbage containers or uncovered compost piles should be removed or covered. Wasps imprint food sources, and will continue to search an area for some time after the food has been removed.

In late summer and early fall, the wasp food preference turns to the sweet. Their behavior is also more aggressive. Open cans of pop, fruit juice, fallen apples beneath fruit trees and other sweet food sources will attract wasps. Be sure to cover drinks and open food containers, keep a lid on the compost and avoid walking barefoot near fruit trees. Remove any fallen fruit rotting on the ground.

Avoid swatting. Swatting and squashing wasps is counterproductive. When a wasp is squashed, a chemical (pheromone) is released which attracts and incites other nearby wasps. It's best to walk away from a hovering wasp.

Avoid wearing bright colours or floral patterns. If you look like a big flower, you may be attracting the curious wasp looking for nectar.

Minimize use of perfumes and other strong scents. In the later part of the summer, wasps are attracted to sweet smells.

Wasps building nests in your bird house? This common problem can be minimized by lining the under-roof area with aluminum foil. Use a staple gun to attach. Another option is to rub the under-roof area liberally with bar soap - ordinary soap like Ivory soap will do. One application can last through an annual wasp season.

There are varying opinions on the effectiveness of using traps to reduce the wasp population in specific areas. This is partly due to the distance wasps will travel when foraging. Wasps have been known to fly from 300 to 1000 yards (meters) from their nest in search of food. Traps are more likely to be useful in small areas.

Setting out traps in the early spring, when only a few wasps may be evident, can be most effective. This is because these early season wasps are usually queens, and it's estimated that each trapped queen represents several thousand worker wasps in the late summer. You can buy wasp traps or make your own.

Make a simple Water Trap

Use a razor knife to cut the top from a 2-liter plastic pop bottle. Cut just above the shoulder of the bottle. Discard the screw top. Fill with water about halfway. Coat the neck with jam, invert it and set back on the bottle. Use two small pieces
of tape to hold it in place.

Wasps will go down the funnel to get the jam, but will find it difficult to get out. Most will drop into the water and drown.
A few drops of dish soap in the water will make it hard for the wasps to tread water, and will hasten their demise. (You can also add a 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water to discourage honeybees from entering the trap in search of water.)
Note: In the spring and early summer, wasps are attracted to protein-based baits; use jam or other sweet baits in later summer and into fall.

Empty the trap daily! As more wasps are caught, they create a raft on which other wasps can survive for a considerable time. Some of these wasps then find purchase on the plastic of the bottle and eventually crawl out. The longer the trap is untended, the more wasps will manage to escape, which may result in swarming.
The trap will be most effective if set about 4' above ground.
Buy a nontoxic wasp/yellow jacket trap or a wasp repellent

Glass Wasp Trap
This sturdy, colored glass trap will take a bite out of your wasp problem. Simply add the included lure, a bit of water, and replace the stopper. Hang or place in an area with high wasp concentrations. Wasps fly up through the bottom hole, become trapped, and drown in the water. After two weeks replace the lure, or just add sweet liquid (lemonade works).

Click for more info, or to buy the Glass Wasp Trap

The Bee Free Wasp Deterrent - keeps wasps away
The Bee Free Wasp Deterrent repels wasps, it does not harm or kill them. It works on a very simple principle: wasps avoid the nests of other wasps. By giving the appearance of a real wasp nest, any nearby wasps will keep their distance, commonly about 20' or further. No chemicals, folds flat to bring on picnics, environmentally safe. Think of the Bee Free as a "scarecrow for wasps".

Click for more info, or to buy the Bee Free Wasp Deterrent

Oak Stump Farms Wasp Trap
The Oak Stump Farms Yellowjacket Trap safely and efficiently catches yellowjackets and other wasps by baiting and capturing them in a reusable plastic jar. This trap is very effective because the lure’s dual action is irresistible to nearby wasps. Translucent cover over jar hides the dead wasps from view.

Click for more info, or to buy the Oak Stump Farms Wasp Trap

Nest Destruction

You may be able to locate the nest by observing the flight patterns of the wasps: if they are flying in a straight line, they're likely on a flight path to or from the nest. Wasps flying directly in and out of a single location may be entering and leaving their nest.

Before approaching the nest, be sure to wear protective clothing that covers the whole body, including gloves and a veil which covers the face, ears and neck. Wear several layers of shirts and pants. Tape clothing cuffs at wrists and ankles close to your body. Check carefully to ensure there are no exposed parts of the body; wasps may target even the smallest exposed areas.

Wait until well after dark before removing the nest. Wasps are drowsy and slower to react during the night, but you should still exercise caution during the nest removal process. Use a headlamp if you have one, otherwise have a helper to hold a flashlight for you. You'll need both hands free. Filter the flashlight by wrapping the lens with red cellophane or thin red cloth, as wasps are attracted by yellow light. Step lightly and try not to talk when approaching the nest; wasps are sensitive to vibrations.

Aerial nests
Place a cloth bag over the entire nest and quickly tie it off at the top; as you draw in the tie, pull the nest free. The bag should be well sealed. Set the bag in a pail of water; drop a rock on the bag to keep it fully submerged.

Ground nests
If the entrance to the nest is easy to see, it can be blocked using a large, clear bowl. Use caution as there may be more than one entrance to underground nests. Set the bowl over the nest entrance and work it into the ground a bit so there are no exit routes for the wasps. This will confuse the wasps, but they won't try to dig a new entrance. The bowl should remain in place for several weeks.

Underground or inside wall nests
Nests in wall voids or underground are more difficult to remove, and should be left to the professional. (If you detect a wasp nest in the wall, do not try to eradicate it from the outside. This will force them further into the house.)
When hiring a professional to treat wasp problems in the home, ask what methods will be used. A non-toxic alternative to insect sprays and dusts is vacuuming. Some prefessional exterminators are equipped with specially adapted vacuum cleaners to draw out the wasps, which are then sold to pharmaceutical companies who extract the venom for immunotherapy.

Never try to burn an active wasp nest or flood a nest with water, as this will likely make the wasps angry and aggressive.

If you're stung

If stung, the wound should be washed with water which helps remove some of the venom, and treated with an anti-sting product or antihistamine cream which can reduce the pain and spread of the venom.

Another treatment is to apply a poultice of meat tenderizer (for people not allergic to bee stings) or salt to the sting site as soon as possible after the incident. Use about 1/2 teaspoon mixed with enough water to produce a paste. Leave on the sting site for about 30 minutes.

If the sting is in the throat or mouth, or if an allergic reaction occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
Symptoms of allergic reaction may include difficulty in breathing, dizziness and nausea. One symptom which should alert people that they may be having a reaction is feeling very tired. If you are stung and you want to go to sleep - get help! Anyone with a history of hypersensitive reactions should have a sting emergency kit available. High-risk persons should wear a medical alert bracelet or other alert item.

A site visitor from Chicago offers this suggestion: "If you are stung and have an allergic reaction, and you have no antihistamine, a teaspoonful of instant coffee under your tongue will work effectively as a temporary antihistamine, and allow you more time to get medical help."
This is a valid suggestion, but it is vital that it is NOT decaffeinated, it is the caffeine that can support a dropping blood pressure pending medical treatment. That teaspoon may be repeated in 10 minutes.

A site visitor from Waukesha, Wisconsin offers this suggestion for sting treatment:

"Soak a tissue or cotton swab with distilled white vinegar, and apply to site of bite. This will relieve the stinging in a few seconds. Continue apply this to bite site until victim finds the bite no longer is stinging. I have used this many times on my self as well as the young and old."

A visitor from Ottawa suggests:
"Take a bunch of wild plantain -grows prolifically on most lawns - for immediate relief - chew it up and press it onto sting - for more elaborate poultice - add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 tablespoon of vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to chewed plantain in mortar - mix well and apply - works like a charm.... "

Brad from Orlando suggests this simple, natural remedy:

"Make a paste from water and baking soda on a soft cloth or kleenex, apply it firmly to the sting and leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour. It will stop the stinging and itching and draw the venom out -- you will see a yellow spot of venom in the soda when you remove the patch. This works for wasp, yellowjacket and non-poisonous scorpion stings."

Serena from Maryland has this simple remedy:
A wasp sting is also releived by cutting an onion in half and rubbing the cut part on the sting site.

Scott from Florida has this suggestion for deterring wasps from building nests in the eaves under your roof:

Down here in South Florida, we paint our house overhang with sky blue color paint. The paper wasps and the mud daubers will not build a nest on the blue paint. You can paint your bird houses underneath blue too!

Additional information:

Use of topical antihistamines (as opposed to oral antihistamines) may occasionally lead to skin sensitisation (a form of allergy). It is safer to use topical steroids instead which are just as effective at combating the stinging sensation and itch felt with wasp stings. Additionally though, steroid creams also help fight inflammation and the "tight" feeling from stings.

Allergies to wasps stings are obviously more of a problem. They can occur even if you have never reacted to previous stings. Importantly, adrenaline is required to reverse the potentially life threatening effects of swelling of the throat and constriction of the airways. If you do not have adrenlaine with you then its best to create your own through physical exertion. Do not lie down and rest because this may result in permanent rest!

The other problem with wasp stings is that in many cases they are heavily infested with bacteria picked up by the wasp from faecal matter during hunting. Because the bacteria come from faeces they can cause quite nasty infections and early treatment is recommended with antibiotics to prevent sepsis.

Generally if a wasp sting remains hot and inflammed after 8 - 12 hours with no sign of improvement, it's best to seek medical advice about getting antibiotic treatment.

If a sting does become infected then it's best to stop the topical steroid and take oral antihistamines. Unfortunately, the sedating antihistamines are the ones that work best so driving might then become a problem.


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Natural Flea Control
Non-toxic Slug Control
Natural Insect Pest Control
Natural Pest Control for the Garden

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