If you garden, you have almost certainly had the experience of being dive-bombed by a voracious wasp as you attempt to work. And, if it was successful in his attempt to make you his entree for lunch, you also know that the stings hurt - a lot! Fortunately, there are a lot of wasp traps on the market that can make your garden a friendlier place. Here's how to use a wasp trap.
- Wasp traps will not eliminate wasps. The first thing to remember when you put up a wasp trap is that they are not designed to eliminate those who have already built a nest. The goal is simply to temporarily clear the area. To learn how to get rid of the them permanently, you will need to knock down the wasp nest and remove it. The safest way to do this is to spray the nest thoroughly with a wasp-killing insecticide early in the morning before the insects are active or late in the evening, wait for a couple of hours, then repeat this process again. You may need to do this several times before all are killed. When you think you have eliminated all of the live insects, gingerly poke the nest with a long handle a couple of times. If this doesn't produce any activity - in other words, if they don't come buzzing out at top speed and make a beeline for your head - use the handle to knock it down, then spray it again with insecticide. When you are sure that no wasp could possibly survive the ordeal you have put them through, remove the nest and destroy it. When you are doing this, be sure to wear long sleeves, pants and some sort of face and head protection. It goes without saying that if there is the slightest possibility that you are allergic to any sort of insect, hire an insect control professional for this task.
- You don't want to eliminate wasps, anyway. This may come as a surprise to anyone who's been the victim of a wasp sting, but wasps are usually the good guys in a garden. They eat all kinds of nasty bugs that would otherwise be munching on your veggies. There are harmful wasps, of course, but many are beneficial. The wasps which are usually most bothersome are yellowjackets and hornets because they are much more aggressive in defending their nests than other species. It's important to practice control rather than killing them so that you can still partake in the benefits of having them in your garden.
- How to use liquid wasp traps. Once you've decided that a wasp trap is the way to go, you'll need to choose which kind to purchase. Liquid traps are very easy to find, inexpensive and usually quite effective. They look a bit like a very small birdfeeder, with a reservoir in the bottom. You can purchase a solution to pour into the reservoir, or simply use a mixture of equal parts of sugar and water. The sugar will attract the wasps, and the water will drown them. Simple, but effective! Another advantage of this type of trap is that no chemicals are used, so it's safe for use in eating areas and around areas where children play.
- How to use lure wasp traps. The other type of trap is a lure trap. These use a chemical lure to attract wasps. The wasps enter through a tapered funnel, and are then unable to escape. These can be made more effective by adding a bit of lunchmeat to the trap, which wasps find delicious! Just be sure to replace the meat every few days - rotten meat doesn't attract wasps, but it may attract even bigger pests. When the trap is full, you will need to kill any that are still alive before you empty it. You can do this by pouring hot, soapy water through the funnel into the trap, or putting a plastic bag over the trap and leaving it in your freezer for a couple of days.
- Where to place the traps. Regardless of which type of trap you choose, you'll need to place it in an area with a lot of wasp traffic for maximum effectiveness. The best spot is near their nest, if you can locate it, and if you can access it with minimal danger to yourself. Remember, you'll not only need to hang the trap, but you'll also need to remove it periodically to clean out the dead wasps and replace the sugar solution or lure chemical. It's also important to place it in an area with little human traffic. After all, the trap may kill the wasps, but not if they find you first!
Now you know what attracts wasps, you can start using these traps throughout your garden. If you choose to control your wasp population, remember that it's likely to be an ongoing effort. You will need to clean and re-bait your traps many times throughout the growing season to keep the nasty little stingers in your yard from stinging you!