There’s a sting in the air come spring. Wasps are out in force, and your backyard barbecue may attract these unwelcome visitors. You might be tempted to reach for chemical pesticides, but there are natural deterrents to wasps that are intent on joining your outside gathering.

Although not commonly considered beneficial insects, some species of wasps are important pollinators. Wasps also provide essential pest control by feeding on pest insects, including aphids, caterpillars, and beetles that can harm crops. They might be annoying, but having them around is one reason why spiders and other pests are not overwhelming your garden The trick is managing where they are, not killing them.

The most important thing you can do is make your home and backyard less appealing to wasps. They make nests near reliable sources of food and in nooks and crannies, like the rafters of a house. Here are some ways to reduce the likelihood of wasps picking your yard or house to make a nest.

Don’t Invite Wasps to Dinner

To start, do not leave food out where wasps can reach it, including pet food. You’ve probably seen wasps munching on a burger or steak, but adult wasps eat sugars. However, they collect protein, including meat, to feed their young, so many kinds of food attract them.

If you grill or eat out on your deck, make sure that you cover food dishes. After the meal, clean up food scraps thoroughly so the table is not attractive to wasps looking for food.

If you compost, don’t put meat in your backyard pile. It’s a health risk and also likely to attract wasps and other unwelcome visitors. Rotting fruit in your compost will also attract wasps. We recommend you locate your compost pile away from areas you frequent, turn it regularly, and be aware that wasps may be visiting when you’re tending to the compost.

Seal Likely Nesting Spots

Next, seal any cracks and holes large enough for wasps to fit through. Wasps are known to make nests in walls, and keeping them out is the best way to prevent an unexpected and unpleasant encounter with these angry, stinging insects.

Take the time to look for areas that need sealing before an active nest is discovered. If the wasps are already in the wall, don’t seal them in. They will try to find other ways out, which could result in the swarm appearing inside your home.

If you find a wasp nest in your wall, call a professional to remove them. Sealing them in will not keep the wasps contained or kill them. They can chew their way out again.

Wasps building a nest under the house's roof
Seal any cracks or holes in your home that wasps can fit through to prevent them building a nest where you live.

Make Your Home Unwelcoming To Wasps

If you find wasp nests in the same place each year, there are some natural deterrents that may help.

Mix either peppermint essential oil or a combination of clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils with soapy water and spray it on the area to discourage them from returning. The oils will not harm the wasps but will make them less likely to choose to build a nest in that location again.

Some plants are natural wasp repellants. Growing them in your yard or in pots around your home helps keep pests away without the use of harmful chemicals. A variety of aromatic herbs repel wasps, including spearmint, thyme, lemongrass, basil, and citronella. If you’re looking for flowering plants, marigolds, geraniums, and pennyroyals also help repel wasps.

Coexist Peacefully

Wasps may be pests, but they serve a purpose in nature. If we can avoid killing them, we should. These simple wasp prevention methods discourage wasps from nesting in your home. And by using natural deterrents, you can avoid harmful pesticides and coexist peacefully — and separately — from wasps.