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Feeling waspish

It's not my imagination is it? In Toronto there are more about this year. I think there are wasp patrols who signal to the others as soon as a BBQ is lit.

I know if you leave them along they won't 'bite', but it still puts offends watching them do that little aerial ballet dance before alighting on the edge of my beer glass or summer pudding. The beer is a particular nuisance as I cannot risk a swipe and watch my Fin du Monde come to the end of its life.

Is there any such thing as a wasp repellent?

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  1. Follow some of them and find out where they are nesting. We had a huge problem with them when we were in NY to the point where we just couldn't tolerate outdoor activities near the house. We found several small nests around the exterior of the house (they were even nesting in the mailbox) and used a direct spray on those nests but the problem didn't diminish. It was solved for us when during a particularly hard cold snap we had a baseboard water pipe burst in the bedroom over the garage. To our horror, when the crew removed the ruined dry wall in the garage underneath it there was a colony the entire height and breadth of the wall. Thank god it happened when the wasps were dormant. We brought in a pest company to remove it and inspect and treat the rest of the house. Said it was the largest colony they'd ever seen. The following summer/fall we saw no more than the occasional wasp. So if you're still experiencing problems after hunting down and spraying nests you might want to have a pro take a closer look.

    Wasps are aggressive and will not only sting at the slightest provocation, but unlike bees they can sting repeatedly and if there are others about at the time of the stinging, it seems to incite them to join in. Wasp sprays are available at home improvement stores and other similar retailers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: morwen

      You're wrong about all wasps being aggressive. Some are only semi-social and will rarely sting, even if provoked. Others are much more likely to sting. We have mud daubers here in Florida that are pests but won't sting you, and then we have others that are much more annoying and will sting at the slightest provocation.

      I agree that there may be some wasps inside your house, making it harder for you to remove them. We have a nest under the roof that you can hear through the fire alarm ports. I have no idea how to repel them.

      1. re: queencru

        After suffering an attack that left me weak and vomiting in the ER (I'm not allergic) simply by walking from my back door across our porch I don't have the desire to distinguish which ones are cuddly. If you can hear them through your alarm ports you might want to have an exterminator check them out. They could be building a colony to rival the one we found.

    2. I don't know if this will work for Wasps.....but for Bees and Yellow Jacks, eucalyptus leaves work well in repelling the pests naturally. I used to have friends who operated businesses in outdoor markets and this is the trick they used to keep them away.

      1. You are right, Toronto is infested. I heard a theory that its because of the garbage strike, but who knows. To me it seems better this week, so hopefully they are going away.

        11 Replies
        1. re: ddelicious

          In a Toronto newspaper there was a recommendation that carrying a dryer fabric softener keeps the wasps away.

          1. re: mexivilla

            I noticed a restaurant patio had dryer sheets hung all over and it seemed to be working. I think what we call wasps in TO may be called yellow jackets elsewhere. Definitely they are bad this year as were fruit flies for a while, but oddly there are no houseflies around... for the past several summers since they introduced the green bins, we were annoyed by houseflies when eating outside (and had a couple of minor indoor infestations), but this year, no houseflies, lots of wasps.

            1. re: julesrules

              That's possible- there are many types of wasps and it's hard to tell which one unless you're more specific. Yellow jackets are just brutal. I went away on vacation one time and when I went in to open my door, my sister started screaming because there was a yellow jacket nest over my door. I got stung and we abandoned our stuff at the door (I took a cab home) and walked to the store to get spray. Luckily in that place it never came back, but I agree that it doesn't take much provocation for those little suckers to kill you. The mud daubers we have here are an iridescent blue/purple and are pretty harmless.

              1. re: julesrules

                I did some reading about yellowjackets after discovering a nest near my back door (and had been attacked by about 30 a year ago, leaving me skittish about them, to say the least). They are sweet-loving carnivores, and actually eat flies, which may explain the abundance of yellowjackets, but lack of flies..... An entomologist told me that the majority of these critters don't/can't sting, but if the the ones that guard their nest are disturbed, they release their attack pheremones and then, well, look out.... the stinging ones can/will sting over and over again, unlike other bees. They are ornery beasts. But the good news is with autumn approaching, the queen will go find someplace to hibernate, all her little minions will die off, and next spring she will find a new nest (apparently they don't stay in the same place year after year). I'm hoping next year it will be further from my house.... Still, I have coexisted with them this year without being attacked (of course, I avoid walking through their swarm with a soda in hand and candy bar dangling from my mouth....). I have heard that the dryer sheet trick works too, though I haven't tried it. Regardless, if you're allergic or think you might be, I'd recommend not taking any chances and call an exterminator. Yellowjackets are certainly not in the same category as the collapsing honeybee population...

                1. re: jcinnova

                  Did you know that "yellowjackets" is pronounced "Jello Yackets" in Spanish?

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    You're feeling frisky today, I see :)

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      "Jello Yackets"

                      Sam, I thought that was the term for what resulted from doing too many "Jello Shots" too fast?

                    2. re: jcinnova

                      Don't know if they're the same critters as you're seeing, but here (Sacramento, CA) yellow jackets are around to one extent or another every summer. Their dietary preferences are evident by the name most commonly used for them - "meat bees."

                      A few years back I had the dubious honor of butchering a lamb on a last spring afternoon. Hundreds of the little suckers turned up for the party, and I can vouch for the fact that yes, they do sting. They weren't being aggressive, but each time I inadvertently mashed up against one it would make its displeasure known.

                      1. re: jcinnova

                        Wiki says that Yellow Jackets is the North American name for wasps. Although here inToronto I seem to hear the name wasp more often.

                        I have two problems with this name. Sartorially, they should be called 'Yellow Trousers'. Secondly they live in wasp nests.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          All yellowjackets are wasps...but not all wasps are yellowjackets. I rarely see non-yellowjacket wasps around Toronto, but yes, people do seem to use the more general term here. The only people that are actually incorrect are the ones that just call them "bees." :)

                    3. re: mexivilla

                      That's funny--I just learned that my mother's postal carrier likes dryer sheets tucked inside "her" mailboxes. She said it repels spiders.

                  2. Worth trying: Set out little bowls or shallow plates filled with undiluted, plain white vinegar. Place them around the perimeter of your patio/deck/picnic spot. Bees do not like the smell. Can't say I know about wasps. adam

                    1. You can buy wasp traps as well. A friend of mine had them all around their yard in metro-Denver. I need to get a few as our neighbors seem to refuse to ever trim their palm tree (which drops all it's crap in our yard and creates a haven for wasps and scorpions). Sigh.

                      1. I have a huge nest in a gable above my side door. Right where my garbage can is, and where i wash my car. They used to swoop down and buzz my face, fly in the door when it opened, just irritated the hell out of anyone in the area. When I went to paint the gable, they started getting really pissed. I got a can of Raid wasp and hornet killer, stood in front of the door and yelled, "if you won't get along with me I'll F$%^#ing kill you all".
                        Since then we've been coexisting peacefully for the last 3 years. I hate to kill things. Unless of course, I'm gonna eat them, or they cut me off in traffic.
                        Oh, it's a true story. They still freak everyone else out.

                        1. I feel for you - I hate wasps ever since accidentally stepping on a nest of them and being stung many times as a child!

                          It's not your imagination - this National Post article attributes the Toronto infestation to a combination of ideal weather and abundant food:


                          1. I just read somewhere, that if you fill small ziplock bags with water, that repels them. No science behind this, but I've heard it works.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                You see ziplocks filled with water hung in doorways all over the Oregon coast. Seriously. It's weird. But it's so prevalent, it makes me wonder.

                              2. The wasp is the state bird of Texas!

                                2 Replies
                                  1. I heard on the news that this is a bad summer for them and we'll be back to normal next year and for the next few years. I forget the reasons given.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: cinnamon girl

                                      If they do, in fact, eat flies as noted above, I think we can blame the garbage strike. I was wondering why we seem to have an abundance of fruit flies and yellowjackets, but not flies, after that, and this would make sense.

                                      My first-ever sting is just about healed from a cookout a couple of weeks ago on Centre Island - stupid bugger got me through my shirt AND my bra while I was turning the kebabs. My brastraps: impenetrable to most men, but not to small, stinging insects.

                                      1. re: Wahooty

                                        Ouch Wahooty! Right through the bra too? I didn't know they were so powerful.

                                        The news item I heard made it sound like it was part of a natural cycle coupled with enviro factors . . . so yes, maybe the strike was a factor.

                                        1. re: Wahooty

                                          Wahooty, you are selling yourself short to call the wasp a stupid bugger. He obviously had good taste but was a bit clumsy in his approach!
                                          Typical Wasp male!!

                                          1. re: sumdumgoy

                                            I'm sorry, but any male that tries to cop a feel on the side of my ribcage is, in fact, a stupid bugger. ;)

                                      2. I do think they have been a bit worse than usual here (Toronto) this year. I built a home-made trap (google yellow jacket trap) using a plastic jug, wooden skewer baited with salami, and water and a bit of dish detergent. Took out 25 or so on the first day of use, fewer thereafter. There are still some around but front porch is much more pleasant than previously.

                                        1. Things I learned as a kid NOT do do with wasp nests:

                                          1. Tape a cherry bomb to a pole, light, and stick it up into the nest.
                                          2. Give it a jet spray of water from the garden hose.
                                          3. Douse it with lighter fluid and light.
                                          4. Shoot at it with rocks from a slingshot.
                                          5. Bat it from where it is hanging over the fence with a baseball bat.
                                          6. Any combination of the above.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Ah, the paper wasp nests, the size of a football or basketball. In the fall when freezing weather set in, we youngsters could remove the nests and cut them up to examine them. There were always a few dozen wasps that stayed behind in frozen animation. My brother would collect a jar of frozen ones and stash them in our kitchen freezer. He would thaw then out in the dead of winter, and maybe 4 or 5 would come back to life. He then released them in my bedroom as a prank, because he knows I am fiercely allergic to them. He missed a career in cryogenics; he had the touch.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              Are you sure that you're male? Those sound like things that GIRLS know not to do. Ah, maybe difference is that we KNEW it and y'all had to LEARN it. Yep,gotta be the answer.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                My brother is nobody's fool. If a successful prank can augment his inheritance, it's a go. We used critters for a lot of pranks, mostly mice.
                                                Back on topic, yellowjackets and wasps have little in common. Yellowjackets usually nest underground, and they love sugar (soda cans, dumpsters, garbage cans), and they are way too fast for a human to escape their wrath. Yellowjackets are like mini-fighter jets; wasps are more like helicopters. Both are fierce stingers.