How to Keep Wasps Away & Take the Sting Out of Summer

Tell wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets to buzz off with proven techniques to keep these stinging pests away from your summer fun.

Published July 10, 2023

Ask anyone what their favorite bug is, and chances are no one's going to say a wasp. If you've had the misfortune of being on the stinging end of an angry wasp, then you know firsthand how painful dealing with an unwanted colony can be. Before you forfeit your outdoor events to the wasp overlords, try out these easy methods for keeping wasps away.

Avoid Floral Patterns and Bright Colors

The summer color palette is full of bright shades and bold hues, mimicking the beautiful flowers that burst from the ground. Everything is just brighter in the summer sunshine, and while those new teal checkered tablecloths look so enticing, be wary of buying them.

If you've had wasp problems in the past, stick to dark, neutral tones for your decorations and clothing options. Although they go against the general summery vibe, these colors are far less appealing to hornets and yellow jackets than busy patterns and electric colors. Basically, keep from turning yourself or your outdoor tables into big juicy flowers that attract wasps.

Cover Any Food or Drinks

Picnics and outdoor barbeques are a summer tradition, but pesky flies aren't the only bugs you might have to fight against. Wasps, like many bugs, are attracted to the smells of your great cooking. So, to keep from enticing them to join your dinner party, only uncover food when it's time to eat.

You can use airtight containers and food nets to keep food safe and stick with bottles or cups that have lids. The last thing you want is a wasp tickling your lips the next time you go to take a drink.

Clean Everything Up Promptly

Once you've got a good meal in your belly, the next stop on the afternoon fun train can be heading straight to napville. You've got to be strong and resist the lazy urge if you want to keep hornets and yellow jackets far away from your lounging area.

After you've torn through the coleslaw and barbeque, immediately clean up your plates, platters, and utensils. Put everything inside or go ahead and wash them in an outdoor sink. Scraps of food and drink can quickly turn into a wasp buffet when left outside.

Avoid Wearing Perfumes and Scented Lotions

A spritz of your favorite perfume won't just turn people's heads, but also that colony of wild wasps as well. Fragrant perfumes, lotions, or hair products can attract wasps. If you know you're going to be spending a day outside but want to keep your skin supple and protected, stick to unscented products for now.

Break Out Natural Repellants

Certain natural plants and oils will repel bugs like wasps. It's why citronella candles are such a popular table centerpiece for people's backyard patios. If you don't have the time to add plants that act as great bug repellants, then dip a few cotton balls into some peppermint or lemongrass oil and put them in bowls around your seating area. Similarly, you can fill up a few bowls with cloves to really deter the aggressive pests.

Set Up Wasp Traps

You're never fully defenseless against wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. Sometimes, you just have to be proactive about what defenses you choose. Wasp traps exist (you can choose from an array of them online) or you can make your own.

For example, you could put some of your leftovers (particularly sweet things like fruits) in a bucket full of soapy water. They'll be so attracted to the food that they won't know the drowning deluge that'll hit them. Don't forget to empty your traps regularly.

Burn Something to Get Smoke in the Air

Wasps hate smoke, so we highly recommend timing your outdoor excursions with a little grilling action. If it's not too boiling hot outside, you can also set up a fire pit to deter any wasps from coming into your picnic area. But whenever you're managing any fire, make sure you have some water or a fire extinguisher nearby.

Avoid Playing or Sitting Near Flowers

Although it's not always possible, try your hardest not to set up a picnic or outdoor lunch near any flowering plants. And if you want to really guard your patio space, don't plant an abundance of flowers around it. You'll only turn your patio into a wasp's dream. While that does mean you won't get to see butterflies and bumblebees skittering around while you eat, it's a small price to pay to keep massive wasps' nests from ganging up on you.

Don't Stake Hummingbird Feeders Beside Your Patio

We all love to watch the tiny, zoomy hummingbirds swarm a freshly filled feeder. But the holes in these feeders are just big enough that insects like bees and wasps can reach the saccharine mixture. And wasps are aggressive enough over their food that they'll try to chase your beloved birds away.

So, you should either move old hummingbird feeders or stake new ones well away from any area you plan to lounge about outside. This will definitely keep the wasps away from your eyeline.

Don't Let the Wasps Win

Wasps can be nasty little creatures and difficult to get rid of once they've settled in. Rather than spending your summer afternoons wasp hunting, implement these easy methods for keeping wasps away. After all, nothing'll ruin your outdoor pool party quicker than a swarm of wasps descending on your sunscreen soaked guests.

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How to Keep Wasps Away & Take the Sting Out of Summer