8 Scents That Wasps Hate (and How to Use Them)

Yellowjacket Wasp on Flower with Text "Wasps Hate These Scents"

As you probably know by now, wasps can also be a total burden when you have to deal with them at your home. If you’re looking for ways to shove wasps away in your area, then you might be in search of some efficient ways to keep them away.

Wasps have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find food sources. You can take advantage of this trait by using scents they dislike, such as peppermint, lemongrass, clove, and geranium essential oils, vinegar, sliced cucumber, bay leaves, scented herbs, and geranium flowers.

But before we dive deeper into knowing how to use those anti-wasp scents properly, it’s best to know first why you need to repel wasp away from your premises. Let’s get to gettin’ on.

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Why Do You Need To Repel Wasps?

Wasps are often confused with bees because they are similar in terms of their physical appearance, colony structure, and attraction to sweets. But let’s set the record straight, wasps are totally different from bees. 

Bees are much less aggressive than wasps and produce honey.

While some wasps species can make honey, their primary purpose in the ecosystem is as an insect controller. It’s this trait that makes them quite aggressive.

Meanwhile, wasps swarm when their defense mechanisms are being triggered, especially when there are threats near their nest. Needless to say, it’s not good to have them around your home.

Here are some of the common issues that you’ll find if there are wasps on your property:

Wasps Can Swarm

Whether accidentally or intentionally, if someone poses a threat near their beloved nest, they can swarm.

Swarm of Wasps on Nest

I remember my dad telling me a story of accidentally running over a ground hornet’s nest a few summers back (hornets are members of the wasp family) with a lawnmower, and boy, it could’ve been really messy.

The main point of the story was seeing a cartoon-like black cloud appear behind him. Luckily he only got stung a few times, but wasps can swarm regardless if they’re in a ground nest or one attached to your roof or a tree.

Wasps Are Just Plain Ol’ Annoying

Aside from the risk of storming, wasps are just plain ol’ annoying. Just imagine how it feels when you’re eating, sleeping, or simply watching T.V., then time after time, you’re spotting a wasp in the corner of your eye.

It might be tolerable for a while, but after some time, it will surely get on your nerves.

Just imagine you on your porch in the summer, eating a sweet fruit such as cantaloupe or watermelon, and you have a wasp or two trying to score a quick meal and landing on your plate. Get’s old, real fast.

Wasps Colonies Can Grow Fast 

For now, you can just see a few of them flying around your house, but little did you know that they are already building a colony inside your home. Soon, you’ll be surprised by just how large their colony can get.

The only way to deter them is by getting rid of the nest and queen, or else they can keep reproducing for the season.

You can use a wasp spray with protective equipment if you have experience. If you don’t have the experience, you can use our free service to find a professional exterminator near you.

Deter Wasps Using These 8 Recommended Scents

OK – now onto the good stuff.

Here are a few scents that you can use that may help repel wasps and keep them at bay. Of course, these methods aren’t guaranteed. The best surefire way to keep wasps away is to find their nest and have it removed.

Please note that again, our best recommendation is to have a wasps nest removed – these scents below may work for you, but there are TONS of variables that we can’t always account for. For best results, consult with a local exterminator if you have any concerns!

Spray Peppermint Oil

Topping our list is the usage of peppermint oils.

Wasps HATE the smell of peppermint specifically. Peppermint oil will not harm wasps, but rather, it can act as a deterrent as they will be less likely to approach the smell. As practical as it is, the scent does not last forever. You need to apply from time to time to be consistent in deterring your stinger friends.

Peppermint Plant Up Close

Not to mention how expensive peppermint oil is. If you’re going to do this many times a week, it will surely make a significant cut in your budget.

To combat this, you can look into a ready-made peppermint oil concentrate that can last a while. Mighty Mint’s Peppermint Oil Insect & Pest Control Spray is an excellent place to start, as it contains natural peppermint oil concentrate.

Wasps have a strong dislike for anything mint – which could be due to menthol, which is very prevalent in peppermint oil and gives it an aromatic mint scent.

To use it as an insect deterrent, you’ll want to spray the solution on entryways and areas where wasps could potentially fly in and get in your business.

So, for instance, if you’re out on your porch, you could spray this along the rails of your patio while you’re sitting outside. The scent would be pungent (but smell delightful to you unless you hate peppermint) and will hopefully help deter wasps.

Lemongrass, Clove, and Geranium Essential Oils.

Going back to using essential oils, another mixture that has been proven effective is the combination of lemongrass, cloves, and geranium.

If you’re not convinced, take it from the research published in Pest Management Science

According to their study, this essential oil mixture can cut-off the interest of wasps from coming into your area. 

Applying essential oils directly on different spots in your house is somehow expensive. Therefore it is advisable just to mix a drop of each in a bottle of water and spray this mixture inside and outside your home.

But as we all know, covering your entire area using this mixture is impossible. The goal for these scents isn’t to eliminate wasps but rather to keep them away from a desired area. So, spraying outside while trying to keep wasps away in the short-term could work, but for a long-term solution, the wasp nest needs to be removed.

Plant Herbs

Wasps might be attracted to some ornamental plants, but they indeed hate the scent of herbs in your garden.

Planting herbs such as thyme, eucalyptus, mint, wormwood, citronella, and basil is an effective strategy in your backyard and property.

Place these herbs in your garden, patio, window panes, and porch, with the exception of wormwood, which shouldn’t be placed near any other plants.

Essentially, for the mint-type plants on this list, wasps generally strongly dislike anything with a mint fragrance (spearmint, peppermint, etc.)

And, of course, herbs should be located where they can be efficiently utilized. Who wouldn’t love adding herbs to their dishes? Basil, thyme, and rosemary are a few fantastic herbs that can be a “two birds with one stone” type of deal for you!

For herbs, there are so many variables to claim that this will help deter wasps accurately. More than likely, it’s not like you’re going to plant one or two of these next to your attractive plants, and wasps will automatically stay away.

Instead, an excellent solution to test if this method works for you, is to make a small flower bed on your porch and fill it with one of the herbs mentioned above.

This way, there will be enough of the plants to produce a consistent, pungent scent where wasps will hopefully be able to pick up on it and get the signal to stay away.

Vinegar May Repel Wasps

Surprisingly, there are everyday household items that you can utilize in repelling wasps. One of those is vinegar.

Wasps can be easily distracted by the strong sour scent of vinegar. 

Spraying a mixture of vinegar and water in your house is an effective repellent against wasps. It will not just irritate their sense of smell; it will also cover up some other scents that wasps love due to its intense nature.

Make sure you use white vinegar, as opposed to apple cider vinegar here.

In fact, if you accidentally use apple cider vinegar, you’ll actually do the OPPOSITE and attract wasps to you… so yeah.

There is mixed research regarding vinegar as a stand-alone wasp repellent, but if you’re going to be spraying this around your home – it may be wise to go ahead and add a drop of peppermint oil to the mixture as well. For the vinegar solution, you’ll want to heavily dilute it in water so that the smell isn’t too overpowering.

The pungent scent, event diluted, should help to keep wasps at bay.

For better results, spray the mixture frequently since vinegar’s scent can diminish in a couple of days.

Plant Anti-Wasp Ornamental Plants

Luckily, not all ornamental plants are attractive to wasps as some possess odor that they highly avoid, just like herbs.

One ornamental plant that you can consider is geraniums.

Up Close Shot Of Geraniums In Garden

Some consider this bloody-red colored flower as an effective repellent for flying critters. It has a pungent smell that can easily deter wasps once they get close to the plant.

Furthermore, wasps can’t really see the color red. While not discussing wasps specifically – according to N.C. State, bees, and a variety of insects, see light in the ultraviolet spectrum of 300 to 650 nm. Basically, this means that they can’t see the color red.

Bees and wasps are pretty similar in their anatomical similarities. Although there isn’t an abundance of research regarding the specific color spectrum of wasps, it’s most likely because they aren’t intentional pollinators of the environment.

Regardless, many insects can’t see red, and wasps are the same way.

Geraniums can be quality flower repellents and backyard decor simultaneously. Still, it’s not a solely reliable tactic to use because it can only cover specific areasThe best repellent is to remove the wasp nest altogether.

Slice Up Some Cucumber

Another scent that you can rely on upon deterring wasps is the acidity that cucumber produces. The scent is strongly acidic in nature, so it can work to get rid of all stingers nearby instantly. 

You don’t need to create mixtures and sprays with cucumber; simply cut it off and spread it in your backyard or certain parts of your house (and maybe eat some.)

For best indoor results, place your cucumber in an aluminum pan or dish. When mixed with aluminum, cucumber produces an undesirable chemical reaction towards wasps and, of course, delicious for us.

To be honest, this might be tedious on your end since you really need to do this regularly to improve the chance of its efficacy, but rather, it’ll be suitable for your garden, and cucumbers are pretty cheap.

Though cucumber is a good deterrent against wasps, it can attract other insects such as flies and beesespecially when it begins to rot.

Like many of the items on this list, there isn’t a plethora of research to back up the claim – instead, it’s one of “ma’s old and famed resources that you just know might work”

You get the idea.

Regardless, cucumbers are cheap and good for your yard. It might just be a more maintenance-required method than others on this list.

Use Ground Dried Bay Leaves

Bay leaves also have eugenol essential oil, which can be effective in deterring wasps away.

Grind up dried bay leaves and scatter them on areas where wasps are commonly seen buzzing near your home. 

You can also add it to cinnamon powder or chili powder in producing a much stronger scent. I guess by simply reading, you already smell a little bit of a stench in your nose. Well, that’s how this trick goes!

Aside from grinding bay leaves, you can simply scatter them all around your area.

It’s SUPER important to grind your bay leaves up. This releases the eugenol oil and helps to give off a pungent scent.

Moreover, you’ll need to apply dried bay leaves regularly so the trick will continuously do the repelling.

Long Term Solution: Keeping Wasps Away With Habitat Modification

Those powerful scents that work against wasps are recommended in repelling them out of your property, but with aromas, there is SO much variability; how much you use, how strong the oil or plant is if you applied it in the right spot, and more.

Furthermore, though applying mixtures and grounded repellents are effective methods, the scent will soon fade away, thus requiring you to reapply from time to time.

That’s why it’s vital not to rely on using those scents alone; in fact, you shouldn’t depend on any single method of deterring any kinds of critters. It always pays off to have a backup plan.

Still, the best way to deter pests in your house and backyard is by habitat modification.

Here are some practical ways on how to stop wasps from colonizing your home for good. 

Maintain A Clean Backyard

Always clean your backyard. Remove all fallen fruits because they will produce a favorable scent to wasps and other flying critters.

Make sure as well to trim off bushes, weeds, and other tall plants in your backyard. Remember that wasps settle on places where they can feel secured. 

Therefore exposing their possible hidden nesting ground is excellent prevention to make them feel that it’s not a good spot for breeding. 

It’s nice to have a barbecue party in your backyard from time to time, but be mindful of the foods and drinks that you’re preparing as they may attract wasps from coming into your premises.

As much as possible, cover all the foods at the table and make sure to put a lid on your sodas and other sweet beverages. In that way, wasps will not be interested in coming to your place.

After cleaning your backyard, place all the rubbish in a sealed garbage bin, which we’re going to discuss in the next part.

Cover Your Garbage Bins

This procedure is common sense, but sadly not a common practice to some. 

To make your wasp-repelling efforts put not to waste, make sure you always cover your waste. Perfect rhyming, so you can constantly be reminded.

Yellowjacket Wasps On Edge Of Table

Wasps don’t just enjoy feeding sweets and scented foods; they also love meats and protein sources. 

Truth be told, they are capable of almost infesting on anything they can find, sometimes even their kin.

So don’t be complacent by not covering your garbage bin, thinking that there are no sweets that wasps can indulge in your container.

Spillage from soda or sports drinks, that rind of that melon you didn’t finish, and sometimes even meat. Wasps simply love scouring through anything sweet that they can get their hands on (sweets are gold, however.)

Wasps are also known as predators to some insects. They usually hunt to provide food for the whole colony. Sometimes, or most of the time, your garbage bin is a perfect spot for food hunting.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that we should always clean up every mess, dispose of it properly and cover the bins tightly.

Secure Your Compost Pile

Aside from garbage cans, wasps also find your compost as a good source in scavenging food.

If possible, place your compost pile indoors or in any sheltered areas. 

Hence, if you don’t have enough space inside, you may opt to use a secured cover to discourage wasps and other critters such as mice, raccoons, and skunks from invading.

If you find out that there’s a wasp nest in your compost file, call a professional to handle that for you or to provide you with some guidance for the next steps.

Patch Up Holes

One of the most effective preventive measures that I would highly suggest to avoid wasps from colonizing your home is to patch up holes and sealing cracks. 

It could be tiny cracks from the edges of your door, holes in your walls, or probably some slit from your old window screen. Regardless of which, it’s best to patch it up as early as possible.

Wasps love to build nests in hidden places so that those holes might be used as their pathway inside your house.

Growing up, my brother actually had a wasp nest RIGHT OVER HIS HEAD in the ceiling when sleeping. He kept hearing a buzzing noise, and low and behold; wasps had colonized right above his bed… yikes.

In case you already find a nest inside those cracks or holes in your house, DO NOT patch it up.

They might find another way using your vents, or worse, they can force a hole in your drywall and get spread even farther throughout the inner-workings of your home.

Close All Possible Entry Point

Apart from those holes and cracks in your house, wasps might also take advantage of some gaps under your porch or deck to enter your premises.

In case you’re thinking that wasp’s nests can only be found in high places such as tree branches, attics, and roof edges, then you better think again.

The most profound reason why wasps build their nest up high is to secure it from possible threats. But if they find out that there’s a good spot underneath your porch, then most likely, they will settle there.

To solve that, you can use low gap fences or screens to cover the gaps under your porch or any possible entry points that wasps may use.

It’s also advisable to trim off some weeds and grass near your deck or porch, making it less attractive to wasps. They hate building nests in areas where they will be easily exposed. 

Subsequently, growing some of the herbs mentioned above within those mentioned areas is an excellent addition to try and up your defense.

Store Your Foods Properly

Needless to say, storing your foods accordingly will keep wasps and other pests from visiting your home.

As we have previously discussed, this is not only applicable to sodas or other sweets that you have since wasps are capable of devouring most leftovers.

In storing, make sure that your food is adequately sealed so wasps can not detect the scent coming from it.

Wasps might also come because of the leftover pet foods in your backyard, so make sure to remove all the clutter from time to time and dispose of the scraps properly.

It’s advisable to start practicing that habit because you’ll never know when they’re going to invade, and when they feel welcomed, they will surely come back with more.

Additionally, this method will help keep other animals away, such as raccoons, possums, and coyotes.

Avoid Decorating Your Backyard with Bright Colored Designs

It may sound silly, but bees and wasps are highly attracted to bright colors. 

They always incorporate it with flowers, and since they know that flowers have nectars and nectars are sweet, they will most probably come flying around that object.

So decorating your porch with bright fancy colors is not advisable, especially if there are sightings of wasps near your place.

You might want to change your preference as well in growing flowers. Avoid yellow and white flowers in your backyard. Hence plant it somewhere to redirect the attention of wasps.

Restating this from earlier, wasps don’t see red colors. This is because they are color-blind in terms when trying to sense the color red. 

As a result, they will tend to ignore it and shift their focus to other objects.

So the next you’re going to renovate your backyard, you already know what accent to pick!

Use Wasp Nest Decoys

Here we are, the last on the list. Next up is placing a wasp nest in your backyard.

Wasps are territorial, so they know that it isn’t going to work well if they move to a place occupied by another colony.

When they detect your fake wasp nest, they will be more likely to look for somewhere else to hunt.

If you feel like being crafty, you may opt to create your own fake wasp nest using a paper bag, shaping it in the form of a circle, and hanging it in your backyard using a twine. You can also add some design resembling the original appearance of a wasp nest.

Otherwise, you can purchase these Patio Eden by Maad Brands – Wasp Nest Decoy’s for a very affordable price. The color on these is slightly more on par than others we’ve seen in terms of what a traditional wasp nest looks like.

That’s All We’ve Got!

Well, that’s basically a wrap.

Remember that wasps are highly attracted to areas where they can secure a nest and easily collect food for the colony. 

It might be frustrating to have wasp-issues at home, but they can be repelled when you use the following scents.

  • Peppermint Oils
  • Vinegar
  • Lemongrass, Clove, and Geranium Essential Oils
  • Garden Herbs
  • Anti-wasp Ornamental Plants
  • Cucumber
  • Bay leaves

But again, to make everything effective, don’t forget to always maintain cleanliness in your premises and use any of the above scents.

Thank you for reading!

I hope this article helps you in keeping these flying critters away.


Controlling Wasps, Hornets, and Yellowjackets | Entomology. (2018). University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef620

Gu, X., Cai, P., Yang, Y., Yang, Q., Yao, M., Idrees, A., … & Chen, J. (2018). The response of four braconid parasitoid species to methyl eugenol: optimization of a biocontrol tactic to suppress Bactrocera dorsalis. Biological Control, 122, 101-108.

Horntail Wasp | Horticulture and Home Pest News. Iowa State University Horticulture and Home Pest News. https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/horntail-wasp

Matsuura, M., & Yamane, S. (1990). Biology of the vespine wasps. Springer Verlag.

Wasps and bees. UMN Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/wasps-and-bees

Wasps. Department of Conservation Te Papa Alawbai. https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/wasps/#identify

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