Wasps (the insects) are common around outdoor gatherings toward the end of summer. It’s pretty much guaranteed if you’re eating or drinking on a patio in late August, wasps will soon join the party. Unless you happen to be allergic to their stings, they’re basically harmless but they can be very annoying. In fact, there were so many buzzing around me the other day when I was trying to read on my porch that I had to go back inside.
I spoke to a pest control expert and he told me that business has been steady this year in Toronto. We had a lengthy garbage strike earlier this summer and the wasp and insect population exploded with all of the garbage that sat around outside for weeks. Luckily there are a few ways to keep the pests under control:
Keep BBQs and Recycling/Garbage Bins Clean
Prevention goes a long way in controlling wasps. If there is nothing to attract them, they’ll be less likely to come around. Clean barbeque grills after use and discard any old food that falls through the grill. Keep outdoor garbage and recycling bins clean: rinse with a hose and use an environmentally friendly cleaner such as vinegar, baking soda or eco-friendly dishwashing soap (bleach is not recommended as it may contaminate the organic waste). Many municipalities allow green bins to be lined with recyclable bags which helps keep spills and mess to a minimum.
I had heard that dryer sheets repel wasps but was skeptical. So I purchased a box of Bounce sheets (I’m not endorsing a particular brand, it was just what was in stock) and headed outside with my book. I placed a dryer sheet on my footstool and settled in to read for a half hour or so. Not a single wasp came near me. It’s hardly scientific proof but I’ll definitely be arming myself with a dryer sheet or two the next time I sit outside during wasp season.
Building a simple wasp trap from a used plastic bottle will capture some of the bugs and draw them away from people. It costs nothing and takes minutes to put together. Check out How to Make a Wasp Trap for step-by-step instructions with pictures. You can also purchase attractive glass traps that can be hung around your property.
If there is a wasp nest in a place where it could endanger people (particularly if someone is allergic), consult an exterminator about getting rid of it. They can help you decide if the nest should be destroyed and safely deal with it if necessary.
Update: I have heard from a couple of people about putting up fake ‘wasp nests’ made of fabric to deter wasps. Apparently they are territorial and won’t go near an area they believe has been claimed by other wasps. It’s an environmentally friendly option because they don’t contain chemicals or kill the wasps. A fruit store near my house has a number of them mounted near the outdoor displays to keep pests away from the fruit. Check out Waspinator.com for more information.
In addition to wasps, apparently it’s been a bad year for fruit flies as well. Check out my tip from last summer, How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies, for some advice in getting rid of them.
There is a new Kitchen Tip of the Week posted each week. You can also check out the archives for more helpful tips and tricks.