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How to safely keep wasps away from your food while eating outside

By Sophie King
10th June 2022

Ever find yourself wondering how to get rid of wasps? At this time of year, many of us will be wanting to enjoy a summery meal outdoors, under the sun – but how do you stop wasps from ruining your picnic or teatime? Fear not – The Greenhouse People have shared their expert advice for keeping them at bay.

Ahead of the mini heatwave that’s predicted to sweep the UK, lots of us will be wanting to spend dinnertime outside this weekend.
While dining al fresco is always pleasant beneath the heat of a warm summer’s day, you might find your meal interrupted by one of the country’s less-liked critters: wasps.

These insects are indeed a dreaded sight in the garden or any outdoor space, but they’re also a valuable part of our ecosystem: they make effective predators and pollinators on the veg patch, so we’d do well to make sure we don’t harm them (and anyway, who wants to provoke a wasp?).
Nevertheless, it’s in everyone’s best interest if wasps don’t turn up to your meal uninvited. Thankfully, The Greenhouse People are on hand with some fantastic tips for keeping wasps away from your food.

1. Practical decorations

While we all want our dinner settings to be as pleasing to the eye as possible, our tablescaping can sometimes be just as attractive to wasps. Flowering plants that produce nectar are irresistible to these critters, so The Greenhouse People recommend that you choose plants that keep wasps away, like wormwood or eucalyptus, instead.

2. Cover it

One of the most effective ways of stopping wasps from sharing your food is hiding it from them. If the dish is covered, they simply can’t have at it. Plus, hiding the food will also mask its smell. “Wasps send out a scout when searching for food and will alert the colony once they catch whiff of delicious foods,” say The Greenhouse People, so it’s really important to keep lids on tubs and cloth over open dishes when you’re not using them. You can even invest in mesh covers for the table to block their access.

3. Light citronella

For a mellow addition to your meal as well as one that’s unattractive to pests, light a citronella-infused candle. It’ll smell great to you, but not so pleasant to wasps and a number of other pesky critters who might be attracted to your food.

4. Natural defences

Great news if you’re up for growing your own herb garden: wasps hate lemongrass, spearmint, sage, thyme and rosemary, so adding pots of these around your eating area can be a really good way of keeping wasps out of sight. You could even get creative and make a vertical or hanging herb planter. And even better? You’ll have another round of ingredients to hand for the kitchen.

5. Aromatherapy

Essential oils can work wonders at keeping wasps at bay – especially, in the case of wasps, peppermint. You can even try making your own from the herbs you grow yourself – or, “mix a few drops of essential oil and dish soap with water before spraying over the desired area”. Spray it around your dining area and enjoy the aroma (and lack of buzzing!).

6. Wasps hate cucumber!

Cucumbers contain an acidity that repels wasps, which is handy considering that they’re a popular addition to any meal enjoyed al-fresco-style – think summer salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes, all enjoyed in the warmth of a summer’s day. Simply adding cucumber to the plate can keep wasps away, but if you’re committed and want extra protection, you can even leave cucumber peelings around the table.

7. Lure them away

If wasps seem determined to gate-crash your dinner despite your efforts, try enticing them elsewhere. “Wasps love sweet treats,” say The Greenhouse People. “Leave some jam or ripe fruit for them to feast on far away from your dining area. Be sure to place the trap far away from where your guests will gather or you may accidentally entice the wasps.”

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