You might not like them, but wasps are surprisingly beneficial insects. They generally avoid humans and feed on other insects. It's when wasps nest too close to your home and your outdoor living space that they become a nuisance. If fruit trees dot your backyard, you may be attracting wasps. Fortunately, there are non-toxic, environmentally friendly ways to control the wasp population in your yard.
Keep Wasps Out of Your Home
The first step to dealing with large concentrations of wasps is to make sure they stay outside. This means sealing potential entry points to your home. Wasps usually enter through cracks around door frames or windows, torn window screens or unsealed vents. Covering these areas will keep most wasps, even if they are nesting in nearby fruit trees, out of your home.
The Water Trap
If too many wasps are congregating around your fruit trees, you can make a non-toxic trap to reduce their number. It's best to set these traps in the early spring when the queens are out. Preventing queens from nesting in your fruit trees can keep thousands of worker wasps away in the later summer months.
To create a wasp water trap, cut the top off an empty 2-liter bottle. Fill the bottom part of the bottle halfway with water. Then coat the outside of the neck, which you've already cut away from the bottle, with something sweet such as jam or jelly. Turn the neck upside down and place it on the bottle's base. Wasps, attracted by the jelly, will slide down the bottle's inverted neck and into the water. Empty the trap of dead wasps each morning.
Removing The Nest
If you're brave enough, you can remove a wasp nest from your fruit trees without using toxic chemicals. First, wear protective clothing that covers your entire body. This includes padded gloves, a hat and a veil that covers your neck, ears and face. Make sure to wear several layers of shirts, and tape your sleeves and trousers legs around your wrists and ankles.
Remove the wasp nest when it gets dark. The wasps will be more sluggish at night. Walk quietly toward the nest so as not to disturb the wasps.
Quickly place a cloth bag over the nest and draw the bag closed. At the same time, pull the nest from its branch. Making sure the bag is well sealed, drop it in a bucket of water. Place a heavy rock on the bag to keep it submerged.
Keep Them Away
You won't have to destroy a nest in your favourite fruit tree if you take precautions to keep wasps away. Don't wear strong perfumes or brightly coloured clothing in the summer. Don't leave food outside; wasps are attracted to foods that contain protein. Refrain from squashing wasps. When you do this, a scent is released that attracts additional wasps.