Buying wasp traps and the attractant at the store can be quite expensive. Making your own traps is easily done with items you may have around the house. This is a guide about homemade wasp traps.
WARNING: Be sure to place your wasp trap away from any areas where you will be using the yard. Don't have one within 20 feet of your picnic table or children's play areas.
The simplest wasp trap can be made from a two or three liter pop bottle. Cut the bottle right under the funnel so that you have two pieces. After baiting the trap, you will fit the funnel shaped top piece into the bottom piece. The bait can be tied onto the pop bottle opening. Make three or four holes around the top edges where the fitted pieces meet, from which to attach string for a hanger. Don't tie these on too tightly because you will need to take the trap apart frequently to add new bait and remove dead wasps. Add water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to the container part of the trap. A little vinegar added to the water is reported to repel honey bees from visiting the wasp trap. The water should not come to the level of the opening of the funnel shaped insert. Put a bit of Vaseline or cooking oil around the top of the funnel so that the insects will lose their footing when they are investigating the wasp trap.
What sort of bait works well in a wasp trap? It actually makes a difference what time of year it is. In the early spring, wasps will be seeking protein foods because they will be making nests and laying eggs. Some good choices for protein baits are hamburger and lunch meat. Partially cook the hamburger so that it is easier to tie onto the trap. An advantage to setting a wasp trap in the early spring or even late winter is that you may catch a queen. If you can catch and kill a queen, the rest of the wasps will go elsewhere to make a nest. Later on in the summer, sweet foods work well as bait. You might try floating a bit of root beer or other sweet liquid on the water in the trap in a small lid. Fruit pieces work well, too, but it helps if they are cut so that the juicy smell is evident. Mashed grapes are very desirable to wasps.
Place the wasp trap away from human activity and about four feet above the ground. The trap works best at about 85 degrees F. so you may have to move it into the shade on a hot afternoon or into the sun on a cool morning. The theory behind these traps is interesting. The wasp will fly down into the wasp trap to get the bait, but will not be able to find its way out. It will fly around inside until it wears itself out, at which time it will fall into the water. The detergent in the water breaks down the surface tension of the water, making it stick to the wasp's body instead of beading up around it. Since the wasp breathes through it's body, it will drown. Many wasps are likely to visit these wasp traps, which means you will need to empty them regularly. If you don't, the bodies of wasps will create islands on which the new wasps can rest without drowning. You will need to replenish the bait every few days, too, for best results.
When you empty the trap, you need to be careful. If any living wasps escape, they may return to the nest and let the others know they are in danger. If this happens, wasps can become aggressive. They may even swarm. The same thing can happen if the dead wasps' bodies are crushed. The bodies release a chemical which can be smelled by the rest of the colony. It is probably a good idea to bury the dead wasp bodies. (Be particularly careful if it is a colony of hornets you are trying to control! It is probably wisest to have a professional exterminator take care of them.)
Wasps are beneficial insects. They are useful around gardens because they prey on garden pest insects. However, when they make their nests too close to the house, they become pests themselves. Many people are allergic to wasp stings and can die if stung. In fact, death from insect stings is not uncommon. Making a wasp trap is one way to keep them under control without having to use toxic chemicals.
By Kathy from Huntsville, AL
I am looking for a concoction for my Wasp trap. You soak cotton balls and put them in, then it attracts and traps them. I know apple cider vinegar is the base for it, but can't remember or find the recipe with proportions. Thank you!
Hardiness Zone: 7a
June 14, 2015
I agree with lynneolry. I raise Monarch butterflies and I have seen wasps kill Monarch caterpillars to snack on. I bought an (expensive) wasp trap at a garden center - nope not one single wasp. I am going to try making one with the 2 ltr. bottle and hope to rid my butterfly garden of wasps.
Does anyone know why a wasp cannot get out of a wasp trap by flying down and out ? They can fly downwards.
June 1, 2012
I think they are just too stupid to think to do ths.
I have tried to make a homemade wasp trap using a soda bottle and sweetened liquid bait. I cut the bottle carefully and put them together just like the instructions said. It doesn't work. I have made it over and over again and it still doesn't work. Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong, please?
April 1, 2015
From what I've read, wasps are attracted to protein-rich foods in the spring and sugary foods in late summer. Some have suggested using canned cat food or raw hamburger meat in the traps along with fruit juices during the spring and early summer then switching over to all fruit juices or jams during the late summer / early fall.