How to get rid of wasps when you're chilling outside

How to get rid of wasps when you're chilling outside

Now that we’re finally allowed to hang out with people in small groups outside, pub garden meet-ups and park gatherings are the order of the day.

It’s great that spring has sprung, however the season brings with it a few critters that you wouldn’t want to crash your picnic – with wasps among the most feared.

Wasps will only attack when they feel threatened, and they’re able to emit a pheromone that summons nearby colony members ready to defend them, so it’s worth knowing how best to disperse a wasp or wasps without that happening.

For anyone planning an outdoor gathering, Walter Murphy, pest control expert at, has put together his advice on how to get rid of wasps without stressing them out.

Do not swat them

Swatting is the first instinct of many, but it’s not the right way to go about getting rid of a wasp – in fact, Walter said it’s ‘the worst thing you can do.’

He added: ‘These movements can excite or enrage the wasp, making it more likely to sting you. Even though it is hard, the best thing to do is to stay as still and calm as possible.

‘If you kill one wasp, you may think you have solved the problem. However dead and dying wasps emit pheromones that attract other wasps to the area, so you are potentially worsening the situation.’

Cover your food

If you’re planning a picnic, make sure you bring something to cover up the food.

‘The longer your food is out,’ Walter said, ‘the bigger the chance of attracting wasps and other swarming pests.

‘Covering food is the best way to deter wasps, as they are less likely to smell it. If you are on a picnic, pack your food in Tupperware boxes and uncover it as you need, instead of laying it all out at once.

‘If you’re eating at a table, cover the food once everyone has been served. Even if you can only cover your food with a mesh cloth, the wasp will eventually give up and fly away once it cannot access the food.’

Burn citronella candles

Citronella will help mask the smell of your food and drink, thus keeping wasps and other insects from pestering you.

Walter said: ‘Citronella candles are a simple but effective way to repel wasps without having to kill them or spray chemicals around your children and pets.

‘They release a fresh, distinctive odour that will make your alfresco setting difficult to locate for wasps, bees, flies and other insects too.

‘Most supermarkets, homeware and hardware stores stock citronella candles. They can also be bought as tealights, so you can place them around your garden in candleholders. Just remember to blow them all out before heading inside.’

Spray peppermint oil

Another smell that wasps aren’t a fan of is peppermint, so peppermint oil makes for a great repellant spray free from harmful chemicals.

Walter said: ‘Simply shake a tablespoon of peppermint oil with four cups of water in a spray bottle.

‘Before you sit to have your meal, spray the solution around your dining area.

‘This is an effective method to drive the wasps away, without using harmful chemicals or killing them.’

Avoid bright colours

Hate to break it to you, but your summer clothes could be making you a wasp target.

Walter explained: ‘As well as being guided to food by their sense of smell, wasps are drawn towards bright colours.

‘Therefore, it’s best to avoid wearing bright clothing or planting colourful flowers in your garden, as this could attract hordes of wasps.

‘Instead, wear light and pale colours to significantly reduce your chance of getting stung. White, tan, cream or grey are considered ‘safe’ colours, as opposed to yellow, orange or red, which may be perceived as a threat.’

Grow strong smelling plants

If you’re planning on adding some plants to your garden, picking some that have strong smells could help keep wasps away.

‘Wasps have an incredible sense of smell and detest the powerful odour of some fragrant plants,’ said Walter. 

‘Smells that discourage wasps include fresh mint, ground coffee, cloves and tomato stems. As well as enhancing your garden and providing a pleasant scent to you, wasps will become naturally repelled by the aromatic plants.’

Call a professional

If you find a wasp’s nest on your property, getting rid of it yourself could prove dangerous, so it’s best to leave it to the experts.

‘Dealing with a nest without the proper equipment or training can open you up to all sorts of dangers,’ said Walter.

‘The wasps might swarm out to defend their home, resulting in multiple stings.

‘Whilst smoking out a wasp’s nest will remove it; this may cause a fire which can easily get out of control.’

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