Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

How to make a wasp trap

NAIT instructor shares tips for making these aggressive pests buzz off


Sunny summer days are made for spending outdoors, preferably with food and friends. A beer wouldn’t hurt, either.

But a wasp bite would. Nothing spoils a backyard barbecue like the incessant buzzing of a wasp determined to make your meal its next feast. Late summer is when wasps are most aggressive, but instead of heading to the hardware store for costly or chemical solutions, why not make your own trap.

NAIT physics chair Jocelyn Crocker often has a handful of homemade wasp traps placed throughout her yard at this time of year. The traps not only make it possible to dine outdoors in peace, they protect the 120,000 honey bees that call her backyard home.

“Bees and wasps are mortal enemies,” says Crocker.

“They leave the hive in desperation and start aggressively seeking out food sources.”

Wasps are at the most aggressive in August and September, after the wasp queen has stopped laying eggs. That’s when the rest of the colony stops protecting the nest and begins to scavenge for food.

“They leave the hive in desperation and start aggressively seeking out food sources, which include sugary things like pop and beer, and protein,” Crocker says.

In other words, everything that you’ve set out on your patio table.

Jocelyn Crocker

Simple traps reuse your leftovers

Making wasp traps is as simple as reusing and modifying empty pop bottle or milk jugs (as shown in the video above). Just add fruit scraps, beer or pop for bait (you can also use meat scraps), along with a few drops of dish soap. The soap reduces the surface tension of the liquid, ensuring the wasps sink and drown rather than fly away to buzz another day.

The traps are so simple to make, they can even be made on site, like at a campground. Crocker says they pose no risk to pollinators such as honey, bumble or orchard bees, which are only interested in pollen and flowers. Given the amount of attention the traps will receive from wasps, you might not want to set it right next to your barbecue spread but off in a corner of the year.

And though wasps are renowned for being unruly party crashers, Crocker is sympathetic to their plight and their ecological role, such as controlling pests like aphids. Her advice? Don’t kill ‘em unless you have to.

“They do some pollentation; they are important organisms. You just don’t want them at your backyard barbecue.”


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