How To Get Rid Of Wasps In Florida

Wasp nest

Wasps are very territorial insects that can sting their perceived attackers multiple times and even send out alarm pheromones to other wasps. To protect your family and pets from painful stings, learn how to get rid of wasps today.

How To Identify Wasps

Wasps can commonly be identified by their pinched, hourglass-shaped waist. They have two sets of wings, antennae, and six long, hairless legs. They also have distinctive chewing mouthparts, called mandibles, that they use to break apart prey and other food sources. 

Wasps vs Bees

Though wasps are often mistaken for bees, the truth is that they're an entirely different species.

  • Both are pollinators and members of the insect order Hymenoptera, but wasps are carnivores and live off the protein of other small insects, using this protein to feed their young.
  • Bees are more full-bodied and hairy, a feature that helps them collect pollen, while wasps are slim with slender legs and do not contain hair.
  • Bees make their nests from wax, and wasps make their nests from different materials, including mud or paper-like materials made from chewed wood particles and their saliva.
  • Both use stingers to defend themselves. However, wasps can retract their stingers to sting more than once. A honeybee's stinger is barbed, meaning it can only sting once, as the stinger will get stuck in the victim's skin.

Common Types of Wasps In Florida

While there are various species of wasps, the four most common you will encounter in Florida are the cicada killer, paper wasp, yellow jacket, and mud dauber.

The Cicada Killer

Given their name because they hunt and prey on cicadas, the Cicada killer is black with a few yellow markings or stripes. Their eyes are red or black and set apart from their head. Their legs vary from red to orange, while their wings are typically brown.

The Paper Wasp

Paper wasps are named because their nests look like gray or brown paper. The wasps are brown with yellow markings and are often confused with yellow jackets. Some also have red stripes. They have incredibly long legs for a wasp and have two yellow dots on the top of their thorax. 

The Mud Dauber

Mud daubers are black with a few pale markings. They may also have a blue coating. The area between its thorax and abdomen is quite long and has clear or dark wings.

Yellow Jacket

This bee-sized black and yellow insect has distinct yellow markings on its head and yellow bands around its abdomens. With a thin waist, they have large antennas and six legs. 

How To Keep Wasps Away

We can’t control where wasps make their home when we are hiking, at a park, or in nature, but we can help prevent them from residing on our property. Here are some of the most effective wasp deterrents:

Plant Flowers That Repel Wasps

Just like there are flowers and plants you can grow to help attract certain pollinators, there are also flowers and plants you can grow to help repel wasps. There are plenty of scents wasps do not find inviting. Here is a list of a few of them:

  • Citronella 
  • Trumpet Flowers
  • Marigolds
  • Garlic
  • Eucalyptus
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Pennyroyal

Use Natural Repellent Spray

Using essential oils won’t kill the wasps, but will help keep them away from you and your loved ones. There are several types of essential oils you can use—just be sure to dilute with a carrier oil. Some of the most effective essential oil repellents include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Citronella
  • Tea Tree
  • Orange
  • Cedarwood

Another fast and effective way to keep wasps away is by using vinegar or apple cider vinegar. 

  • Simply mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the mixture around various outdoor living spaces. 
  • Carry the bottle with you when you garden and spray trees and other structures.  
  • Reapply the mixture often as it does lose its effectiveness over time. 

Neither of the solutions above will kill wasps, but it will temporarily keep them away without harming them. 

Remove Food Sources

Wasps are usually on the hunt for a free meal, so one way to deter them is to remove all food sources

  • They live on a diet of fruits, berries, insects, and other sweet and meaty foods, so when eating outside, keep all food in tightly sealed containers and clear out leftovers immediately after eating. 
  • Wasps also have a sweet tooth, so when drinking soda and fruit juices, keep a lid on your container to keep wasps out.
  • Keep your trash cans, recycling, and compost bins tightly sealed with a locking lid to keep wasps out.

Seal Off Your Home

When it comes to keeping wasps out of your home, the best way to do so is by keeping your home sealed. More than likely, wasps are entering your home the way most insects do, through tiny gaps and holes in your foundation. Install screens on windows and doors and patch up any holes or cracks with silicone caulk paying close attention to siding, the eaves on your roof, and the beams and supports in your garage. 

How To Get Rid of Wasps

If you have wasps in your yard, follow some of these tips to get rid of them.

Set Up Wasp Traps

You can start by setting up a few wasp traps. Typically a wasp trap contains some type of liquid that lures the stinging insect inside. Once inside, the wasp gets stuck and drowns. 

You can make your own wasp trap simply by going through the following steps:

  • Take an empty two-liter bottle
  • Cutting the top section off
  • Place a sweet treat inside, such as sugar, water, soda, or fruit juice, 
  • Take the top portion of the liter you cut off and insert it into the bottle upside down. 
  • Hang the trap outside on a tree or banister. 

If making your own traps is not your thing, don’t worry—there are various types of traps you can buy online or at your local hardware or home goods store.

Spray Insecticide

For a foolproof way to exterminate wasps on contact, there is a multitude of spray insecticides on the market. Most spray pesticides use a blend of neurotoxins that attack a wasp’s nervous system, paralyzing them on contact. If sprayed onto a wasp’s nest, the substance coats the hive, killing wasps when they return. 

We recommend utilizing an insecticide containing a freezing agent to keep the wasp from stinging. When spraying, be sure to wear protective clothing, including long pants, long sleeves, a hat covering your face and neck, and gloves. When spraying a nest, it's best to spray after dusk when the wasps are in the nest and activity is low. 

Use Soap And Water

For a less expensive and more natural alternative, you can make your own insecticide using soap and water. Simply mix two tablespoons of dish soap and water into a spray bottle and spray it on the wasp nest. The mixture stifles the wasps breathing and kills them on contact.

Call A Wasp Exterminator

Taking care of a wasp infestation on your own is risky and time-consuming. Don’t risk harming yourself or your family. Call in a trained and knowledgeable wasp exterminator. 

Our experienced and licensed exterminators at Deans Services have been helping residents of Central Florida for over 30 years. Our year-round pest control will ensure your home and family are well-protected from a variety of pets. Call us at 352-515-9826 or contact us today to learn more.

FAQ About Wasps

When it comes to wasps or any pest, the best way to prevent and control them is through education and knowledge. Read our commonly asked questions below to help you better understand this essential yet harmful stinging insect.

What Attracts Wasps?

If you notice wasps around your house, they are most likely looking for food or a place to call home. They’ll build a nest anywhere that offers them a place away from the weather, predators, and other dangers. This can include areas of your home such as gutters, in between cracks and crevices, window shutters, dead trees, and under patios. Other things that attract wasps include

  • Sweet and sugary treats, including soda, juice, and fruit.
  • Accessible water, including swimming pools, buckets, old tires, and flower pots.
  • Bright-colored flowers, especially blue, white, yellow, and purple.
  • Garbage, including recycling bins.
  • Other insects like caterpillars, aphids, certain beetles, crickets, and spiders.
  • Fruit trees and fallen fruit in your yard.
  • Food left out at picnics and barbeques, especially meat.
  • Untreated wood. This is because they chew on the pulp and use it to make nests.

Are Wasps Pollinators?

Yes. While much more aggressive and dangerous than bees, they play a key role in pollination and in controlling harmful or invasive insects. They have short tongues and look for shallow blooms. They transfer pollen from flower to flower during feeding, causing them to make seeds or fruits. Because only fertilized plants can produce fruit or grains, pollinators are needed for these plants to reproduce.

Are Wasps Dangerous?

While wasps are essential pollinators and predators of many harmful, invasive insects, they can become dangerous quite fast. They are extremely territorial and will attack anything that comes between them, their nest, and their young. Unlike honeybees, they can sting multiple times, injecting venom several times in various locations. This makes them extremely dangerous around children and pets. Other reasons wasps are such a threat include:

  • Social wasps use a pheromone to call other wasps when they feel threatened
  • Wasp stings can cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis
  • Sustaining too many wasp stings at one time can be lethal
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