Finding any type of unexpected bug in your yard or home can be annoying, but there are few insects that provoke the kind of fear that wasps do. Not only are they plentiful, with over 30,000 varieties of wasps living across the seven continents, their painful stings can cause a long list of health problems, from pain at the site of the sting to anaphylaxis among those susceptible to wasp venom. However, it's not just bad luck that may lead you to discover an increase of wasp activity on your property—or even inside your home—this summer. Read on to discover what could be attracting wasps to your yard, according to exterminators and entomologists.
Those fruit-bearing trees on your property may provide you with healthy treats on a regular basis, but they could also be providing a home for wasps on your property.
If you have fruit trees, "you probably have a wasp problem," says insect expert Josh Matta, a senior biologist for Spectrum Garden Brands.
"Wasps and other stinging insects are highly attracted to human foods, especially sugary ones," Matta explains. While you may not want to clear cut your property to avoid wasps, picking up rotten fruit as it falls on the ground and keeping them in lidded trash cans or compost bins can help.
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Those brilliantly-colored flowers in your yard don't just look good to you—they look pretty good to your local wasp population, too.
"Wasps are attracted to bright-colored flowers, so any plant with bright floral patterns in the garden or backyard will attract wasps," explains entomologist Alice Sinia, a quality assurance manager at Orkin Canada. "Also, wearing bright floral patterned clothing will attract wasps."
Your home's unpainted wood gives it a rustic look—and it could also be the reason behind the wasp problem on your property.
"Wasps will chew on unpainted wood to get pulp to build their nests. Decks, swings or play sets, or other unpainted or untreated wood can be attacked," explains Nancy Troyano, PhD, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control.
However, there is a solution to this unpleasant problem: "By painting or staining wood, you can eliminate these items as an optimal raw material source for wasps," Troyano says.
Open water sources
While getting some rain in your yard may help keep your plants healthy this summer, if you have standing water, it may not be long before you have wasps, too.
"Running faucets, ponds, fountains, pools, and other water features may attract wasps looking for a drink of water," says Jordan Foster, a pest management expert with Fantastic Pest Control. Though your pool and water features likely aren't going anywhere, Foster notes that cleaning up any other standing water on your property can help keep a wasp problem at bay.
Uninvited plus ones may not be the only party crashers at your outdoor barbecue this summer.
"Wasps, especially yellow jackets, are attracted to sweet drinks, fruits, meats, and sweet fragrances from personal grooming [products]," like perfume and cologne, says Sinia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), banana-scented personal care products are particularly attractive to wasps.
Open trash cans
If you want to ensure that your backyard—or home—doesn't become a haven for wasps, make sure you keep your outdoor garbage cans securely closed, especially during the summer.
"These pollinators are on the lookout for food, and they love to feed on sweets, like fruit juices and honey, and protein food, such as dairy products," says entomologist Ryan Smith, owner of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control. "Cans and compost pits should always be covered, as leftover food in them can attract wasps."
To add insult to injury, your home's existing bug problem could be attracting wasps to your space.
"One of the benefits of wasps is that they help to control the populations of insects by eating bugs. However, if wasps determine that your home has a good supply of other bugs, they may create a nest," says Mike Charles, owner of Unified Pest Control.