There is nothing worse when you are sitting outside enjoying your garden than that tell-tale flash of yellow and black. Whether you shoo them away, freeze perfectly still, or run screaming, we can likely all agree that it would be better if wasps just weren't there in the first place. There are plenty of ways to kill wasps, but if you'd rather take the humane route and just keep them away, this simply DIY trap will do the trick.
Firstly, you need something that can be used to trap the wasps. A clear two-liter plastic soda bottle will work well for this. You should also have a permanent marker, something to cut the bottle with — either a knife or some sharp scissors — as well as wire if you’re planning on hanging the trap and food bait to attract the wasps.
Using the permanent marker, draw a line all the way around the bottle just inside where it starts to taper down to the lid. This is the place where you will need to cut. Then carefully use the knife or scissors to follow the line around, minimizing any sharp, jagged edges.
Put the bottle opening from the smaller piece you just cut off inside the larger part, so it creates a funnel into the base of the bottle — that's your trap! Place bait in the bottom of the bottle and tape the two sections together so the whole thing doesn't fall apart (and release the captured wasps) if it falls over. Poke a couple of holes into the bottle either side of the rim for the hanging wire.
While it may seem like a safe bet just to add something sweet to the trap, there are foods that make more effective wasp bait, depending on the time of year. Sugary treats likejam and juice are great for late summer when the wasps require glucose for energy. However, meat is a more appealing lure in spring and early summer when they are searching out protein.
Add the protein or juice to the bottom of the bottle. You only need a small amount of the juice if you want to trap but not kill the wasps — too much liquid and they will drown. Add a little vinegar to the mix if you want to keep bees away from the trap.
Put the traps around the garden anywhere you know or can see wasps like to congregate. Placing one near to where you are sitting, especially if you are eating, should help keep them away. While it’s fine to put them on the ground, hanging traps or ones placed on tables are more likely to attract the intended targets.
When you are ready to head inside, you can release the wasps from your trap back into the wild. Carefully peel away the tape holding the two pieces of the bottle together, and remove the top part of the trap. Then, leave the area while the wasps disperse unharmed.
Take the trap inside with you, or make sure to leave the lid off, as any wasps that are trapped but not released will eventually die. Clean the trap with soap and water and keep it around for the next time you plan to spend a few hours outdoors!
If your trap isn't working as well as you hoped, and the wasps are getting out of the bottleneck, then the opening is probably too large. Fix this by taping a piece of paper across the opening and cutting a hole in the center to reduce the size of the opening.
No trap is fool-proof, and while this one will likely deal with many of your sting-happy party crashers, there still might be one or two that get by. If your shooing or freezing technique fails and you do get stung, wash the affected area with soap and water before applying an ice pack to reduce any pain and swelling.