In my last post, I shared two reasons you may want to leave a wasp nest up in your yard or garden. However, there are a variety of reasons you may not want to do that, Our small backyard means that any wasp nest is easily disturbed — making for angry wasps, which can lead to stings.

First, you need to figure out if you have honeybees or a type of wasp or yellow jacket in your yard. (You can use this helpful tutorial from the Illinois Department of Public Health to figure out what you are dealing with.) If you do find that you have honeybees, and they are not in a location that's safe for you (or them), you can try to call local beekeepers, who may even remove them for free or for a small fee. Since our bee populations are in an alarming decline, doing what we can to protect them is a high priority.

But what if you need to get rid of wasps? Are there more natural ways to go about it? The pesticides used in most wasp sprays are strong enough that pets that eat the poisoned wasps (and some will) are at risk of death. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not spray such a poisonous spray in my yard! (Note: If you were to use a typical wasp insecticide, professional insect control technicians tell us that most of us use way too much of the spray. A little goes a long way. And, also make sure that you thoroughly remove all dead wasps from your yard afterwards.)

According to my research, I found the following solutions that are natural but effective. It goes without saying that if the nests are in hard-to-treat areas, if you are allergic to their stings, of if there is any other reason that you feel it would be dangerous to self-treat, calling in an expert is the way to go. Most experts say you should thoroughly covering up to prevent stings (including wearing tight-fitting clothes, so they don’t climb into your clothing), and to treat the next at night or early morning when the wasps are sleepy. Covering a light source (such as a flashlight), with red paper will help prevent them from flying towards your light.

Natural insecticide spray

EcoSmart’s Organic Wasp and Hornet killer uses 100 percent, food-grade ingredients, including peppermint oil. When reading over the instructions for use of this spray, you will see that you use this just like the typical poisonous spray, so if you want to simply treat the same way as usual but with a more natural spray, this may be your best bet. It will smell quite strong, like essential oils, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Killing with soap

My friend Katie at Kitchen Stewardship tells how her husband got rid of a wasp nest simply using dishwasher soap and a hose-end sprayer!

wasp nestIf you can easily tie a bag around a wasp nest, you may want to consider pulling it down and drowning it. (Photo: matteo sani/Shutterstock)

Drowning an aerial nest

Eartheasy.com gives the following instructions for drowning wasps in aerial nests:

“Aerial nests: Place a cloth bag over the entire nest and quickly tie it off at the top; as you draw in the tie, pull the nest free. The bag should be well sealed. Set the bag in a pail of water; drop a rock on the bag to keep it fully submerged."

However they caution against removing nests in walls or underground yourself, but suggest hiring a professional in these cases. You can read all of their ideas for natural wasp control here.

Hanging false nests

Something else you can do to prevent a wasp problem is to hang a false wasp nest by your house (or wherever you want to deter them). There are a variety of products for this, some look very much like a paper lantern, and others look similar to a real nest, but they get good reviews online — even if they don’t work 100 percent of the time. They are supposed to work because wasps are territorial, and they won’t build next to another nest. Some even claim to have success by simply hanging up a brown paper bag!

Traps

There are also a variety of glass wasp traps that many claim are helpful in reducing wasp populations in their area. The trick is to make sure you keep replacing the bait. And also, please consider using savory bait, such as tuna, as that will attract the yellow jackets and wasps, but not honeybees, which prefer sweet bait. These glass traps are very pretty, but you can also make your own inexpensive version out of any type of plastic bottle (soda pop bottle or water bottle). Follow these wasp trap instructions to make your own.