Keep Hornets From Crashing Your Picnic

Hornet on leaf

Image source: National Geographic

For us, hornets and spiders fall into the same category. This is because these bugs, while they can look somewhat creepy and intimidating, are actually beneficial. Both hornets and spiders devour flies, mosquitoes and other pesky insects. The white faced hornet, for example, loves to eat caterpillars and tomato worms, so it is a great natural defender for your vegetable garden.

But here’s the thing with hornets: while we know they’re beneficial, we don’t necessarily want them hanging around while we are trying to entertain on the patio or in the backyard. They do have stingers, and getting stung by a hornet is no laughing matter. We don’t want to kill the hornets – we just want to repel them away from our outdoor entertaining area and to another part of the yard. Here are some methods of doing just that.

Natural Ways to Repel Hornets

hose nossel with spraySpray down the nest. If you have a hornet nest in a high traffic area of your outdoor space, such as in the eaves of your front porch or in the corner of your deck, try forcing the hornets to relocate. Wait until evening, just before dark, when most of the hornets will be outside of the nest gathering food. Then, standing a safe distance away, spray the nest with a form blast of water from your hose. The hornets will not be killed, but it will knock down their nest and force them to build one in a different spot, hopefully further away from your entertaining space.

hornet nest decoyBee-Free. Hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and other stinging insects tend to be quite territorial. So to keep them away, you can simply hang a decoy nest. Bee-Free Wasp Deterrents and The Waspinator are paper lanterns that resemble nests. All you need to do is hang one in an area where you do not want these buzzy insects to build a nest. These deterrents are completely safe, involve no sprays or chemicals, and deter hornets for up to 200 feet. We think they look rather cute!
dryer sheetUse Dryer Sheets. Hornets are not fond of the fresh, clean scent that can be found in scented dryer sheets, such as Bounce. Lucky for us, we think they smell quite nice! To keep hornets from buzzing around you, try just tucking a dryer sheet into your pocket. Or, for a party on your patio, conceal dryer sheets inside pretty vases. It is best not to rub the dryer sheet directly on your skin, as this may cause irritation.

cleaning grill Minimize attraction. In the early summer, wasps and hornets tend to be attracted to protein foods. So make sure to cover all of your trash cans, and your compost heap. Don’t leave pet food outside, and make sure to frequently clean your grill. Later in the summer, the buzzy insects’ food preferences turn to sweet. So if you have fruit trees, make sure you harvest frequently and don’t leave rotting fruit on the ground. While entertaining, keep all of your drinks in covered containers rather than open pitchers. Try serving beverages such as iced tea steeped with herbs for flavor, rather than super sweet lemonade. Keep all of your food covered or indoors until you’re ready to serve it.

More Tips for Dealing with Hornets

Although it may be difficult, try not to swat at hornets when they are present. This just puts them in defense mode. Try to stay calm until the hornet flies away, then remove whatever seems to be attracting the critter. If you do get stung, gently brush the stinger to the side with your finger tip or the dull side of a butter knife, rather than pulling it straight out with a pair of tweezers. This helps to reduce the amount of venom that is released. Then, mix a few drops of water with plain baking soda and apply this paste to the sting. If the area is particularly sore, wrap an ice pack in a tea towel and hold this over the baking soda paste. Due to the venom, you may experience mild side effects, such as a headache. Try to relax and take an over the counter pain killer, such as ibuprofen, until you are feeling back to normal.

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