Ah, summertime. Long sunny days with gentle breezes and plenty of sunshine. Maybe you’re soaking in these warm days on your porch or patio reading your favorite book, working remotely, or sipping a drink after a long day. What’s not so warm and enjoyable are the wasps persistently sharing your space too. Let’s take a minute together to learn a little about wasps, if they’re dangerous, what they’re attracted to, and how to motivate them to move away from the spaces you don’t want them in.
How are Wasps Different Than Bees? Are They Dangerous?
While they might be similar in size and color, wasps and bees are different species. The common paper wasp is one of the most recognizable wasp species in Idaho. Paper wasps may look similar to a bumblebee or honey bee, but they have pointed lower abdomens, and a narrow “waist” called a petiole. Wasps use a papery substance derived from wood to build their nests, while bees use a waxy substance they secrete.
Many people fear wasps because of their stinging reputation. People and animals that dare to disturb wasps or wasp nests quickly find themselves in an uncomfortable situation! When a wasp is in distress, they emit a pheromone that communicates that stress response to the rest of the colony. If detected, the colony will quickly swarm to the scene. Even though wasps can be defensive and give painful stings, they aren’t naturally aggressive when they are away from their nest or undisturbed. The only time you should be seriously concerned about wasps is when you are at risk of disturbing a large nest or if you are allergic to wasps. A study by the British Medical Journal found that bee and wasp venoms are different, and patients that are allergic to wasps are rarely allergic to bees (and vice-versa). You can find out if you’re allergic to wasps by taking a blood or skin allergy test.
Why are Wasps Attracted to Different Areas?
Like any animal, wasps are motivated to find food and shelter. These motivations influence the areas they congregate in. Let’s look at why wasps may choose to pick your residence as their home, too.
Wasps are attracted to sweet and sugary foods. They especially love fruit, nectar, sugary drinks, and fruit juice. Many wasps, like the common paper wasp, are omnivores and eat protein-based foods like meat, fish, and pet food.
A wasp’s sense of smell guides them to what they perceive as food. Floral perfumes, scented candles, colognes, and grilled meat are all scents that could attract wasps to your outdoor space.
Wasps are attracted to bright colors, since these colors represent sources of pollen, nectar, and sugar. Bright orange, yellow, and blue seem to be particularly attractive to wasps.
Wasps like to build their nests in a variety of locations. Unfortunately, sheltered corners like your home’s eves and overhangs and patio cover and porch corners are very attractive to wasps. Wall voids that wasps can access through small holes or cracks are also very attractive to wasps.
In addition to sheltered spaces, wasps also look for warm areas to nest in. Spots that get sunlight or are heated through a central heating system (attics, garages, or spots near a grill) are prime locations for wasps to nest in.
How Can You Keep Wasps Away From Your Patio or Porch?
Now that you know more about wasps and their motivations, you can see how this information stacks up against what your own home and outdoor space offers. Here are some general recommendations for keeping wasps away.
1.Seal Trash Cans & Clean Your Space
Don’t leave dinner dishes and sticky drink cups laying around- keeping your outdoor space clean of food debris and dishes can help keep wasps away. Keep your trash cans and/or compost bins away from your seating area.
2.Grill Away From Your Patio & Porch
This might be a hard change for some to make, but if you’re able to grill further away from your main seating area, wasps may congregate near your grill instead. Additionally, leaving used grill tools like tongs and a spatula next to your grill instead of on your serving table could attract wasps to land on those instead of coming for your food!
3.Keep Your Garden Separate From Your Seating Area
Because wasps spend a lot of time in your garden, keeping this area away from your main seating area could keep wasps at an arms-length. Despite the fear people have around wasps, they play an important role in the ecosystem and help control other insect populations in your area. They’re also pollinators that help support your garden.
4.Avoid Using Yellow and Orange Flowers Around Your Seating Area
Like mentioned before, wasps are attracted to bright colors- especially orange and yellow. Consider planting flowers and foliage that are more neutral, green, white, pink, and purple.
5.Add Peppermint and Spearmint to Your Patio or Porch
While there is no true science backing whether or not mint deters wasps, many people believe mint keeps wasps from building nests or visiting certain parts of an outdoor space. Planting mint on your porch or patio could help deter wasps. Another idea is to use a peppermint spray on the sheltered corners of your home, garage, porch, or patio cover to prevent wasps from nesting there. Make sure to do your research before using concoctions and sprays- especially since mint can be toxic to many animals- including cats and dogs.
Mighty Mint has a formulated peppermint spray to deter insects.
6.Remove Nests with Soapy Water
Spraying small wasp nests with soapy water can clog the breathable pores and kill them. When temperatures drop below 50° F, wasps have difficulty flying and small nests can be safer to remove. Dealing with wasp nests yourself can be dangerous if done improperly, so it’s important to make sure you understand the potential risks before you try anything yourself!
In summary, there are many ways you can prevent wasps from dwelling on your porch or patio. If you are interested in purchasing a patio cover, ShadeWorks provides residents in Idaho with premium aluminum patio covers. Get a free estimate today!