Wasps are one of those insects that, although they provide many benefits to nature, we want to love them from a distance. Having a swarm of wasps bothering you while you’re trying to enjoy a midday lunch on your patio is not anybody’s idea of a good time – but what is it that attracts wasps to your yard in the first place?
Several things could be attracting wasps to your lawn or garden. These include:
- Fruit trees and berry bushes
- Other insects
- Wooden structures and sheltered areas
In general, if you keep your property well maintained and eliminate other insect populations around your home, you can keep wasp populations to a minimum.
Knowing what attracts wasps to your home or yard will help you identify what’s causing wasps to visit you, and help you eliminate them from your space. Continue reading to learn what types of things are bringing wasps into your home and how to fix each of these issues. Let’s get to it!
Wasps Are Attracted To Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes
Fruit trees are a beautiful addition to any lawn or garden, and orchards are a great way to bring freshly grown fruit to your local area. However, fruit-bearing trees may invite wasps into your yard.
Most species of wasp are carnivorous, which means they prey on insects. Other species begin their lives eating insects before switching to a diet of nectar and other sugary substances as adults.
Whether they feed primarily on insects or nectar, all wasps need sugar and water in their diet to keep their energy levels high.
Wasps are attracted to almost any fruit-bearing tree or bush, either for the fruit they produce or the nectar in their blossoms. Some of their favorite trees to visit include:
- Apple trees
- Orange trees
- Plum trees
- Pear trees
- Guava trees
- Cherry trees
- Peach trees
- Berry bushes
Plants produce nectar to encourage insect activity and increase pollination. However, when and how nectar is produced will vary among plant species. In the late summer and early fall, nectar becomes harder to find, which could be one of the reasons wasps turn their attention to fruit trees.
According to the University of Maryland, while wasps are not the primary pollinators of most fruit trees, they do play a significant role in the pollination of many flowering plants.
Specifically, wasps do not contain as many pollen-trapping hairs on their bodies, so they are not as adept at pollinating. However, they are drawn to the nectar found in many flowers that honeybees are not attracted to, making them the primary pollinators for many flowering species.
When it comes to fruit trees, however, wasps are not often invited, guests. They can pose a threat to the much-needed honeybee population as well as to pickers by building nests that they defend aggressively.
How To Fix It
It’s not uncommon to find a wasp munching on ripe fruit. However, it’s more common to find wasps buzzing around damaged or overripe fruit; especially fruit that’s fallen from the tree and is fermenting on the ground.
Paper wasps will often build large, football-shaped nests in fruit trees. Nests are gray and can range in size depending on how many wasps are in the colony. Yellowjackets also commonly nest near fruit trees. However, instead of nesting in trees, they nest in underground locations nearby.
Wasps will defend their nests aggressively, so it’s always a good idea to contact a professional if you believe there is a nest nearby,
If you have fruit trees in your yard, the following tips can help you keep wasps from nesting in or being attracted to the blossoming trees.
Control Insect Populations
Wasps are attracted to the sugary liquid inside of fruit, and damaged fruit secretes this liquid. Prevent damage by keeping insects that cause damage at bay.
For example, the Tree Shield Insect Barrier by Catchmaster is a sticky shield that wraps around the base of the tree, preventing ground-dwelling insects like caterpillars from crawling up and eating your fruit!
Trap Wasps Before They Enter Your Yard
If you’re having a problem with wasps, hornets, yellowjackets, or flies, the Terro T516 Wasp & Fly Trap can help trap bugs and keep them securely inside the trap.
Simply place the traps along the perimeter of your yard to keep wasps from getting to your fruit trees. If you notice the wasps are already buzzing around your precious fruit, these Double-Sided Yellow Sticky Cards can be hung from the branches to catch the flying insects.
Pick Fruit As Soon As It’s Ripe
Wasps are attracted to ripe fruit in the tree, as well as fermented fruit on the ground. Pick fruit as soon as it ripens and pick up any fruit that has fallen on the ground.
If you’re having a hard time getting to the high fruit, but don’t want to leave it there to call wasps for dinner, a 13 Foot Fruit Picker Pole by OAK LEAF can help. With the fruit picker pole, you can safely reach the high-up fruit without having to deal with rickety ladders.
Use Wasp Spray
Insecticides keep wasps away from your fruit trees. However, do not use insecticides without first researching them to make sure they are safe to use on food. Additionally, beware of insecticides that kill wanted insects, such as predatory mites.
You can take a look at our piece on how to get rid of a wasp nest without getting stung here!
Attract Wasp Predators
Wasps are fierce predators, but they’re not at the top of the food chain. Attracting insects and animals that eat wasps will help reduce the number of wasps in your yard.
These predators include many species of birds, spiders, centipedes, and dragonflies. Badgers and black bears also prey on wasp nests, but you probably don’t want to attract them to your yard!
Wasps Are Drawn To Water
Like all living things, wasps need water to survive and are attracted to many types of water sources. Water is one of the things a queen wasp will look for when trying to find a place to construct her nest.
In addition to needing water to survive, some species of wasp are attracted to water for different reasons. For example, mud-daubers (a species of solitary wasp that builds small, tube-like nests out of mud) are drawn to moist areas where they can find mud to build their nest.
Wasps are attracted to water sources for a few reasons. First, they need to drink water to survive. Additionally, wasps cannot function if they become overheated (which is why honeybees will increase the temperature of their nests to fight invading hornets), and water can help wasps cool off on hot sunny days.
Finally, wasps transport water back to the nest where they use it to cool the hive.
Wasps are attracted to all water sources, including:
- Standing water
- Leaky hoses
- Dripping faucets
- Watering cans
How To Fix It
Because wasps are attracted to water sources, they can often become a nuisance to humans. They will hover around pools, ponds, and fountains, and can even get trapped in your drink!
While it may be impossible to remove all water sources from your yard (especially if you have a pool), there are ways that you can deter wasps from visiting these water sources.
Empty Standing Water
Look around your yard for anything that might collect rainwater or pooled condensation and remove it. Turning buckets upside down, removing old tires, and dumping watering cans when you’re not using them are just a few of the ways you can remove standing water from your yard.
Cover Standing Water
If you cannot completely remove the water source from your yard (pools, for example), try to keep the water covered when the area is not in use.
If you have a kiddie pool, check out this Ladadee 32’ Dog Pool Cover, which will keep wasps away from the standing water. Additionally, if you have a fountain, this Waterproof Fountain Cover from Ogrmar can keep wasps away from the water when it’s not in use.
Fix Leaky Faucets And Hoses
Inspect your outdoor faucets and hoses for any leaks or drips that might draw wasps to the area.
This Large Faucet Cover Sock can keep insects from climbing into your faucets when a hose is not attached.
Introduce A Water Source Away From Your Yard.
If you can’t beat them, join them! If you have water on your property, such as a pool, that you want to keep wasps away from, install an alternative water source on the edges of your lawn.
Utilize Scents That Wasps Don’t Like
Planting trees or other plants that repel wasps around the water in your yard might force them to find another place to get their water supply.
Learn more about the 8 scents that wasps hate and how to use them!
Don’t Plant Flowers Around Water
If you intend to keep wasps out of your yard, planting flowers that provide a food source near water is not a good idea.
Remember, wasps love flowers and so do many other insects. While most wasps don’t really make honey (and therefor pollinate,) other insects love flowers, and wasps love other insects!
Remember, keep insects down and you’ll keep wasps down!
Wasps Are Drawn To Food
Some species of wasps—yellowjackets in particular—are drawn to human food. Many human foods contain the proteins and sugars that wasps need to survive, and they’ll commonly forage around outdoor eating spaces, garbage cans, and bottle collections.
Additionally, according to a study published in the scientific journal PLoS One, forager wasps can preserve memories of past foraging experiences. This means they commonly return to an area where they have successfully harvested food before.
So, how do they find their way back to these sites? They can remember landmarks! Pretty cool, huh?
While it’s pretty neat that wasps can map an area based on landmarks, it also means they’ll have no problem returning to your garbage can or favorite picnic spot.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can reduce wasp activity around the places you eat in your yard!
How To Fix It
Don’t worry – there are several things that you can do to prevent wasps from entering or returning, to your yard in search of food!
Cover Garbage Cans
Eliminate wasps from your yard by keeping all bags of garbage in a can and covering the can. Make sure to keep lids closed and fastened, since wasps can crawl into small spaces.
Additionally, because food can sometimes drip onto the outside of a garbage bin, keeping cans inside or in a small shed can add an extra layer of protection.
This Toomax Stora All-Weather Shed can be used for trash cans, tools, or yard equipment!
Cover Food When Eating Outside
If you’re having a BBQ, or just eating dinner with the family, make sure to cover food that is not being eaten.
If you want to cover food, while also displaying it for guests, check out these Collapsible Mesh Food Covers, which come in packs of six and are sure to keep hovering pests away from your yummy food.
Pick Up Uneaten Food Promptly
Once you have finished eating, make sure you clean up and put away any uneaten food.
Leaving leftovers sitting on a table is an open invitation to wasps who are looking for their next meal.
Keep Compost Piles Away From Your Home
Composting is a great way to recycle food.
However, it also draws wasps to your yard. Keep compost piles outside the perimeter of your lawn and away from areas that you don’t want wasps to visit.
Pick Up Fallen Fruit
Fermenting fruit and berries are irresistible to wasps who are looking for a sugary snack.
If you have fruit trees or berry bushes, be sure to harvest ripe fruit as soon as possible to prevent it from falling onto the ground.
Wasps Are Drawn To Insect Activity
Most species of wasps are carnivorous, meaning they hunt and eat other insects.
Although different species prefer different insects (like cicada killer wasps, who prefer, well, cicadas), some of their favorite meals include crickets, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and bees.
Not all wasp activity is bad. In fact, according to the Journal of Insect Psychology, many species of parasitic wasps can help control insect populations and eliminate the need for harsh insecticides.
Take the braconid wasp, for example, which can help you grow prize-winning tomatoes by keeping tomato-munching hornworms at bay.
Unfortunately, a steady food supply is exactly what a queen wasp looks for before building a nest, and the last thing you want is a nest of aggressive social wasps claiming your garden.
How To Fix It
The most obvious way to keep wasps who are looking for their next meal out of your yard is to control the population of insects that wasps like to call dinner. However, this is easier said than done.
Because wasps eat such a wide variety of insects, it would be impossible to eliminate any insect a wasp might find tasty from your yard.
That being said, you can narrow your focus to areas where you don’t want wasps to spend a lot of time, such as porches, patios, play equipment, and pool areas.
Watch For Wasp Activity
Take note of where you’re seeing wasps most frequently, what they tend to be around, and how often they visit.
Examine The Area
If you find that wasps are visiting one area more frequently than others, take a good look at that area.
Ask yourself: are there any other insects present? Is there anything else that might be drawing them to this spot?
Study Insect Populations In The Area
For example, you notice wasps hovering around your porch.
There aren’t any nests; they are not chewing on the wood, and there are no flowers present. You do notice there are tons of spiders in this area, which makes you wonder if the wasps are there for them.
Get Rid Of Any Unwanted Pests
Find ways to reduce the population of insects that the wasps are feeding on.
You might have to do some research on the particular insect in question to learn what will work best. If you are successful and stop seeing wasps, you’ll know that is what they were there for.
Wasps Are Drawn To Sheltered Areas
Although fierce, wasps are quite small, and they need shelter to survive. Wasps are drawn to man-made structures because they provide both shelter and building materials for their nests. Additionally, they protect hibernation.
In late fall, new queens leave the nest in search of mates and a place to hibernate. They can often be found hibernating in the cracks and crevices of man-made structures.
When temperatures begin to warm up, the hibernating queen wakes up and begins looking for a suitable place to build her nest.
Besides an ample supply of food and water, the queen will look for an area that provides building materials. Wasps use a variety of materials to build their nests, but for many species, paper pulp is the most common building material.
You’re probably familiar with the paper-like substance that wasps build their nests from, but do you know where it comes from?
Wasps chew on trees, bark, or wooden structures and mix the bits of wood with saliva. Then, they lay this mixture down in layers, which results in the paper-like structure of a common wasp nest.
Wasps are drawn to most any wooden structure or sheltered area in your yard. However, some of the most common areas include:
How To Fix It
Wasp nests are most commonly found in bushes, trees, or underground. However, if they decide to nest in your yard, you might find them under decks, under the eaves of porches, in ceilings or attics, under stairs, in playhouses, or other sheltered areas.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep these flying pests from building in places you would rather not find a wasp nest this summer.
Seal Cracks And Crevices.
Wasps will have a much harder time getting into attics, walls, or sheds if you seal any cracks or crevices.
Use caulk to seal up any holes that allow wasps entry into your home.
Along with attics, you can view our full list of the most common ways that wasps get into your house.
Replace Rotting Wood
Replace decks, stairs, or other structures that have old, rotting wood.
Wasps are more likely to chew on rotting wood because it’s soft and easy to chew through!
If they’re in your wall chewing through wood, you’ll often hear wasps making a fapping or buzzing noise!
Screen In Porches
Screening in decks and porches can help keep wasps from nesting in these areas. This is especially handy if you eat in these places.
Get Rid Of Nests Early
If you notice signs of wasp activity, contact a professional. However, you can deter wasps before they build a big nest by watching for the telltale signs that a wasp has started construction.
Lines of papery-substance, or the beginning of a nest, can be easily washed away before spraying the area with a knock-down spray.
If you want to get rid of it yourself, take a look at our informative piece on how wasp spray works.
Use Natural Repellents To Deter Wasps
Wasps are both drawn and repelled by scents that occur naturally in nature, and you can take advantage of both of these.
Utilize scents that wasps hate to keep them away from areas that you don’t want them nesting!
What Attracts Wasps to Make a Nest?
According to information from the University of Minnesota, there are over 100,000 known species of wasps in the world. Only around 1,000 of these are social wasps, and only around 40 species of wasps are stinging wasps.
Each species has its unique characteristics and nesting patterns. Some wasps, like the yellowjacket, nest underground and are drawn to areas where food is plentiful.
Others, like the parasitic grass-carrying wasp, are drawn to enclosed areas where they can build a solitary nest for their larvae.
Although each species is drawn to a different nesting place, there are a few things that all wasp species look for in a nesting spot. These things include:
- A steady food supply
- A constant source of water
- Building materials
Interestingly, wasps may also be attracted to other things such as color. Color can indicate diversity in the area, ensuring that a nest will be supported. In general, there are a few main colors that wasps are specifically attracted to!
Can You Treat Your Yard For Wasps?
There aren’t many products that exist that can be used to treat your yard for wasps. Yes, you could theoretically use an insecticide, but it would only work if the wasp landed in a treated area. Furthermore, you would eliminate many other insects that you may also want around.
Instead, it’s a much better idea to use traps or natural scents to deter wasps. Clove, peppermint, and lemongrass are all wonderful natural scents that can deter wasps away from your yard.
If you use a baited trap, try to use one that does not attract honeybees. Instead of using sugary substances as bait, you could use protein-rich foods like fish or other meats.
How To Lure Wasps Into Your Garden
Wasps are beneficial insects, and although you would not want them nesting in high-traffic areas, you might want to lure them to your garden to eliminate vegetable-eating pests.
You can lure wasps into your garden and prompt them to nest in suitable locations by planting brightly colored flowers, supplying a source of food and water, and giving them a place to nest.
Additionally, having other things like hummingbird feeders, can attract wasps. Although that is bad in nature, it could be a way to get them to your garden in the first place.
Many gardeners build nesting boxes to both lure wasps into their yard and keep them from nesting in pesky locations.
A small wooden box with a hole in the bottom will give wasps a place to build their colony and keep them from nesting in high-traffic areas of your yard.
That’s A Wrap!
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you. Remember – get rid of other insects that wasps love and keep your yard and properly in stellar condition. It’s really your best bet at keeping wasps to an absolute minimum.
Happy wasp repelling!
Hooks, C. R., & Espindola, A. (n.d.). Wasps, surprisingly cool pollinators. Maryland Agronomy News.
Pusceddu, M., Mura, A., Floris, I., & Satta, A. (2018). Feeding strategies and intraspecific competition in German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica). PLOS ONE, 13(10).
Schuh, M. (2021, May 20). Hot take: Wasps are good. UMN Extension.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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