stinging insect up close

When a stinging pest gets into the house, life comes to a screeching halt. There are few people who are comfortable to keep on doing whatever they're doing when a wasp appears. For some, it can produce sheer panic. That is why we get lots of emergency calls for stinging pests. But many of these calls could be avoided if homeowners did a few things in the yard to keep wasps away.

The math is simple: fewer wasps in your yard equals less of a chance of wasps infesting your home. And not just wasps, but other stinging pests as well. In our service area, we see several wasps including paper wasps, cicada killer wasps, and yellow jackets. We also see bald-faced hornets, European hornets, carpenter bees, honey bees, and more. Each of these stinging insects has a slightly different reason for coming into our yards. In this article, we'll focus on what attracts paper wasps and yellow jackets.


Paper wasps and yellow jackets feed primarily on nectar. If you're not familiar with what nectar is, it is a sugary fluid that is secreted by plants, particularly flowers. Nectar is sweet, and wasps love it. They also love honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance secreted by aphids, which are tiny bugs that feed on the sap inside plants. All of this is to say, if you have flowers or plants in your yard, you have a reason for paper wasps to come into your yard. Reducing the number of plants in your yard can have an impact on wasp populations but, obviously, you love your plants, and you probably don't want to get rid of them. There are other sweet things that can attract both of these insect pests. Try eliminating these:

  • There are many sweet items in our trash. If wasps get a sniff of them, they'll be all around your trash. Make sure trash bags are put in sealed containers to keep the smells in and those wasps away.

  • Drink cups left outside could lure wasps in. It is a good idea to use covered cups or soda bottles that can seal smells in.

  • Fruit is an attractant for wasps. Consider picking up fruit as it falls to the ground and culling any damaged fruit from branches.

  • Since wasps are drawn to flowers, bright colors and flower patterns will lure them in as well.

  • Sweet perfumes and air fresheners can attract wasps.


Paper wasps and yellow jackets are also meat eaters. But, before you get the idea that they're looking for a thick porterhouse steak, you should know that meat comes in many forms. The form most eaten by wasps is caterpillar form. Wasps also like spiders and other bugs. The more bugs you have in your yard, the more interesting your yard will be to wasps. Use these tips to reduce protein options for wasps.

  • Turning lights off at night and keeping shades drawn will reduce flies, which reduces spiders and, in turn, reduces wasps.

  • Reducing moisture reduces moisture pests and the wasps that feed on them.

  • Cover compost.

  • Hire a pest control company to maintain a low population of bugs around your home to resist wasps. Your pest service should also include routine inspections and removal of wasps nests and spider webs.

Nesting Sites

Sometimes wasps come into a yard for no other reason than to establish a nest. Paper wasps create aerial nests and will attach these to the side of a home, garage, or shed. They may also get into a cavity in a home and establish a nest there. Yellow jackets can create an aerial or ground nest. Ground nests are the worst because the vibration from a lawnmower can cause yellow jackets to swarm and attack. Do the following to reduce harborage options:

  • Seal gaps and cracks in your exterior walls.

  • When you see paper wasps nests developing, use a broom to knock them down. This will deter nest creation.

  • Fill in any holes in your yard to resist yellow jackets.

  • Keep your lawn trimmed so you can see holes that have been dug by wildlife.

If you live in the greater Knoxville area, request a free in-home pest evaluation from Russell's Pest Control to reduce wasps and other pests in your yard. We'll help you get those pests under control with a year-round pest control plan designed to meet your unique needs.


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