How To Repel Or Remove Wasps Without Killing Them

How can you repel or remove wasps without actually killing them?

Increasingly, people are understanding that wasps are beneficial to the environment: they are pollinators and helpful as a form or natural pest control in the garden, carrying off aphids to feed their young. We are increasingly evolving beyond the 'kill anything we may think is a threat' position, to trying to find other methods of dealing with every day issues and concerns, such as:

  • the presence of wasps when eating outside
  • avoiding wasps when mowing the lawn
  • preventing visits or stings from wasps when camping
  • preventing a wasp raid on your honey bee hive if you are a beekeeper.

Below are a few thoughts and ideas for you to try, but first:

Remember, wasp nests only last a season, but if you have an old nest and want to deter wasps from building a new nest in future, then you should only remove part of the old nest. 

Because wasps are territorial, the remains of the old nest will discourage new queens looking for nest sites (one theory is that the remains of the old nest will look like a new nest is already being constructed by another wasp queen).

If you really must remove an established wasp nest with many wasps, you will not be able to do this yourself, and will need to seek the assistance of a professional. 

I am not aware of any pest controllers who remove active wasp nests without killing the wasps, but I do wonder whether some day they will begin trying out relocation!  How this could work with wasp nests which wasps have attached to a structure, I'm not sure.

If you have a nest built by a solitary wasp, why not leave it?  Solitary wasp nests are small, with just one queen wasp providing for a just a few wasps.  In my view, they shouldn't cause much of a problem.

The truth is, I'm not aware of any methods of simply removing and relocating a wasp nest with the whole colony intact, so what we need to do is dissuade them from bothering us.  In this way, we can get rid of wasps without killing them, whilst allowing them to get along with their jobs in the eco-system.

Here are some ideas:

Repelling Wasps - a few scenarios

Wasps around the BBQ, picnic table; repelling wasps when eating outside

You are more likely to be bothered by wasps later in the season, when there are more workers, males (drones) and generally more mouths to feed.  Please note, male wasps cannot sting.

You may find they are attracted to sweet drinks, jams and cakes.

There are some suggestions that they are attracted to bright colours (although not red).

Try the following tips:

  • Cover sweet and sticky drinks and foods.
  • If you have a large garden area, try distracting wasps away from your eating area by placing suitable food items at a safe distance, to  attract them away from you, such as over ripe fruit, sugar water, banana skins.
  • Keep bare feet covered - especially where children are concerned.
  • Do not eat close to open bins, and generally ensure the lids of household refuse containers are kept firmly in place.
  • Use
citronella incense

or oil of lemon eucalyptus candle or incense (Eucalyptus Maculata Citriodora).

Citronella incense can help to repel
stinging and biting insects.

  • Hang a 'Waspinator' by your barbecue or eating area. They mimic wasp nests and deter wasps from building nests.  They can be purchased from OR

    Personally, I don't think they are expensive, but there are cheaper, paper versions available, but I think it is better to opt for a more durable version.
  • Another theory is that a bag of water with a shiny coin inside helps to deter wasps. Apparently, the sound of the coin causes a very high pitched vibration wave the wasps don't like.  Is this correct, and does it work?  I have no idea, but would be interested to hear of any success or otherwise with this method!
  • Do not plan your eating areas or have your picnics in a location close to soft fruit trees - especially plums or apricots, for example. 
  • There is a theory that wasps are attracted to perspiration, so wear an anti-perspirant!  There are even versions available containing natural insect repellents.

Outdoor activity: Wasps when camping out doors

Wasps around children and babies and their prams

  • Try a wrist band insect repellent for children. I like these bands, as they are suitable for children and babies and suitable versions are available from

  • Again, keep away from areas wasps love, such as bins and soft fruit trees.  Dispose of food waste properly, or keep it in a sealed container safely tucked away until you are able to do so. 
  • Try spraying a top pram cover or clothing with a natural, deet-free insect repellent.  Check that the repellent you use is safe for this purpose before doing so, especially where babies are concerned. 

  • If you are camping, check whether some of your clothing and equipment (such as sleeping bag, rucksack) can safely be sprayed with a deet-free repellent.

Wasps near the house, office, porch, front door or garden shed, or guttering

Firstly, try to keep them out of your house, office or building:

  1. Keep sweet drinks, cakes, soft fruit away from the windows! 
  2. Tape net fabric securely to the windows to prevent wasps entering.  Net fabric can be purchased cheaply and be quite effective as a temporary solution.
  3. However tempted you are to splat the wasps, don't - you'll only attract more of them!
  4. If you are especially concerned, try a deet free, non toxic insect repellent sprayed on the net fabric or around the windows and doors
    (check it won't be flammable, even in direct sunlight, and you may have to spray the curtain again).  Check the repellent can be safely used in such a way first.


Try the bag and coin trick described above, and hang a Waspinator to prevent wasp visitors next season!