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The best way to deal with wasps that bother you is to make a trap. Take an empty 1.5 litre plastic drinks bottle and punch a few holes around the top. They should be big enough for a wasp to crawl through. Pour in a few inches of cider into the bottle, seal up the lid, then hang the bottle up, preferably high off the ground so it's out of the way. I hung one from the top of a flagpole at a festival this summer and it worked a treat. The trap will catch literally hundreds of wasps per day. They climb in through the holes, attracted by the cider, and can't find their way out. They eventually drown.
I find a liberal dousing of water from a hand held spray deters them from coming near an outdoor meal, but if they are really persistant it gives you enough time to decide if you are going to kill them. Incidentally, they are canniballistic, as I have regularly observed them devour their recently deceased relatives.Such is nature!
Having watched wasps for many years, not as closely as Richard, but it is fascinating to watch them diving in and out of the flowers through the summer. I watched one on the shed roof at my allomtnet recently chewing at the edge it made quite a noise. They nested in our attic a few years back and we had a wonderful nest that once empty the children were able to take to school to show the class! Everything has a place and purpose.
Thank you Richard for reminding me that wasps DO have a purpose for being on this earth - I used to know, but had forgotten. I do feel sorry for them; what a horrid way to spend their last days,unwanted in their own world and being hated so much. I prefer not to see them killed but to simply go away somewhere else. This year does seem to be the worst for wasps for several years. Thank you for the info.


Richard, I found your article on wasps very interesting. This year we have had a wasps nest in last years rubbish tip,and I wondered if it could be dug out so that I could show my grandchildren.If so when? I think it is a good thing to get them interestd in how very important wasps and other insects are to our gardens Margaret.R
The therapy for stings is not to react mentally or physically to them. The arctic swimmer who has been in the news recently, does so by altering his reaction to cold water. Instead of hyperventilating and going into shock. He just ignores all bodily impulses and gets swimming. The same with stings, very often it is a guard wasp telling me I am hedge-cutting near the nest and a sting to the arm. Just sit down for a minute and think of some interesting music or writing. Do not rub or touch the sting, although with bees it does pay to check that it is not still in the flesh, then go back to what you were doing further away from the wasps.
I've got wasps and bees nesting side-by-side in my compost heap. I love bees but I'm terrified of wasps, although since having them living at the bottom of my garden I have come to accept them and they haven't so much as bothered me once. I'm amazed at how well-behaved they've been. Anyway, I was wondering, can I expect them to completely desert the nest this winter? I'm worried that I'll stick my garden fork into the compost heap and disturb lots of sleeping wasps.
I teach gardening at a boys secondary school. Every year we have 2 wasp nests in the garden. Only one person has been stung - me - when a wasp got stuck down my wellington boot. The wasps clear all the caterpillars off our cabbages and its a great way to show the kids that there's no need for pesticides with them around (the wasps, not the kids!) The boys initial reaction is to want to attack the wasps nest or kill the wasps, but when I point out their usefulness to a gardener (if not a householder) then they leave them alone. Its also fascinating to watch the wasps digging their burrow - each wasp emerges with a tiny clod of soil clasped between its front legs - where do they take it to?
Gosh AngelStarI didn't realise one could get anaphilactic shock from a wasp sting. I wasn't too scared of them but I will be more careful of them in future. I went into anaphactic shock from penacillan and was unconscious for nine hours. In fact I am lucky to be alive today. Many thanks for your useful information.
Hmmm, wasps as our friends, eh? As aware as I am of the good work they do I cannot accept them as being peacable, unaggressive insects. They don't just make a nuisance of themselves in the last few weeks of life but ALL summer and they appear to be arriving earlier and earlier in the year now. I agree with the idea of them existing but not in MY garden!!!
My experience is now similar to the writer - but it is only from a change of attitude from me that this state of acceptance has happened. Someone passed on a notion that wasps go blind this time of year - has anyone else heard of this and might it explain why they seem to blunder about?
I read a letter many years ago from a lady who said she would say out loud "little wasp, little wasp, please fly away !" and this generally seems to work!
I leave rotting pears on the lawn and watch the bees and comma butterflies enjoying them.
An interesting post thank you very much!! I just found a queen nest hibernating at the weekend: it is in my dads cap in our garden shed. I want to move it somewhere more safe inside the shed cos if my dad finds it he wont be happy. Poor things!!


What a really good article...only problem is, I am now riddled with guilt over the amount I've killed over the past few weeks!
Many interesting comments about bees and wasps. I like them and I do not like to see them trying to exit my greenhouse through the glass. I take them in my hand and carry them to the door and allow them to fly away safely. At this time of the year they can often be seen crawling about on the ground. I know they are dying but again, I take them in my hand to a bush and let them die naturally. Please note, I never manhandle them, I place my hand in front of them and let them walk onto my hand.
Bees and Wasps fly into my garden when I water or put any food out on the garden table! But the trick to keep them away is burn Greek ground coffee ! Works like a charm and you are not killing them! All you do is put it into some tin foil shaped like a boat and light it and the fumes from it the bees don't like and disappear immediately ! If you can't get Greek coffee, then try any ground coffee that can burn !
Haven't anything against wasps except I have been stung and been rather unwell through the sting, and the fact that they insist on making their home in my roof, have been plagued with them for years. they don't seem to be under threat like bees, even though wasps are exterminated by so many people and we love bees. long live bees and the guerilla gardeners in London helping bees survive.
Reply to Angelstar and Preferbees Anaphylactic shock is, thankfully, an extremely rare reaction to bee or wasp stings and I can understand someone who has suffered this condition being very wary of stinging insects. However, I hope I can reassure Preferbees (and other blog readers) that just because you are allergic to penecillin (or any other substance) does not necessarily mean that you will react similarly to wasp venom. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction caused by the human body's immune system mistakenly going into overdrive. Instead of reacting mildly and proportionately to an antigen, it unleashes a tremendous cascade of chemicals and it is this release which causes the life-threatening shock. It is usually caused by some earlier sensitization to the same stimulus — in the case of wasp reactions, an earlier sting that primes the immune response for sudden and massive action should another sting be detected. If you are at all concerned, you should talk to your GP about your allergic reaction and whether it might predispose you to any similar reactions to other chemicals. I hope your doctor can confirm that it is only penecilin and perhaps some other similar antibiotics that you need be worried about.