During summertime, it’s normal for pollinators such as wasps to be found everywhere collecting nectar from flowers. Due to the presence of a sting on wasps, people fear getting stung by them. But do wasps attack you if you bother them?
A wasp won’t attack you if you don’t bother them. Wasps don’t have any reason to attack you if they don’t see you as a threat or don’t get in their way. If these insects sting you, they only do that for self-defense.
While the fear of being stung is justified because of the pain it may cause a person, people tend to overlook why it happens. The fact that wasps, too, may see us as a threat the way we see them seems to skip our conscience. This article will further discuss wasps and why they may or may not attack a human, so keep reading.
Why Do Wasps Attack People?
Wasps attack people usually when they feel threatened. Various reasons make them feel threatened, from getting too close to their nests to killing one of their own. The following explores the most common reasons wasps attack people:
Getting Too Close to Their Nests
Wasps, like any other creature, get defensive when someone tries to barge into their territory. When a person knowingly or unknowingly gets too close to a wasp nest, it puts the wasps in attack mode.
This is especially true when the human being makes sudden movements instead of being slow and careful, which can scare the wasps. Startling the wasps makes them hyperactive and can lead them to sting.
Stepping Onto a Part of the Wasp Nest
When a person accidentally steps on or destroys a part or the entirety of a wasp nest, the insects rush to defend themselves and their home. Wasps use their stings as their defense weapon. The sting alone is painful enough; even worse when stung by almost the entire colony. A wasp sting can be dangerous to those allergic to it.
Killing One of Their Kin
A wasp releases its alarm pheromones when it dies. You can read more about alarm pheromones here.
Once the pheromones are released, other wasps get alerted, thus becoming more defensive. They become more hostile as well upon noticing the death of a colony member. So you’ll likely get stung if you don’t escape on time.
What Should You Do To Avoid Getting Stung by Wasps?
You should avoid wasp nests or areas with high populations of wasps to avoid getting stung by wasps. But if you still somehow find yourself encountering wasps, here’s what you should do:
Don’t Make Sudden Movements
If you mistakenly enter wasp territory, don’t try to run or flail your arms. Try to remain calm and quiet and slowly move away from the nest to avoid scaring the wasps. When scared, the wasps will likely chase and sting you.
Cover Your Food Properly
Wasps typically come out of their nests to look for food, and their overpopulation in an area can cause them to run low on food supply. As such, it’s not impossible to find wasps hovering over the food on your picnic tables.
Make sure to store your food, especially sweet ones, in a sealed container or properly tied plastic. Doing this lowers the chances of the wasps getting attracted to your food. You should also wash your hands after eating instead of wiping them with only a napkin to remove any food smell.
Suppose you still find wasps on or around your picnic spot; then it’s best to leave them alone and not try to swat them away. The wasps will eventually recede back into their nest without causing you any harm.
Don’t Wear Bright-Colored Clothing
Like many insects, wasps like bright colors. That means wearing specific colors will make you more likely to be followed and even attacked by wasps. Consider wearing darker colors, especially if you’re traveling where wasps are likely to be found. Black, dark brown, and navy blue are good options.
To know more about why this happens and what colors to avoid, you can read the article 5 Colors Wasps Are Attracted To (And Why They Like Them).
Wear Protective Clothing and Footwear
If you know that you’re going into an area with a vast number of wasps, you should always consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. You also want to fully cover your feet. These can prove to be a barrier and protect you from getting stung.
Tips on Protecting Yourself While Running Away From Wasps
If, for some reason, wasps start chasing you, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t run in a way that attracts them further. For example, don’t wave your arms around and make yourself look as small and non-threatening as possible.
- Cover your face with your hands. That’s because wasps often aim for the face.
- Don’t jump into a water body if you’re being chased down by wasps. Doing this might seem counterintuitive as the water will protect you from the wasps. But when you inevitably come out of the water, you’ll find them waiting for you.
- Find a physical enclosure separating the wasps from you. Wait for the wasps to leave. Resist the temptation to check too early.
What To Do if a Wasp Stings You?
What should you do if you still get stung by a wasp despite taking all the safety measures necessary?
Clean the stung area using soap and water if a wasp stings you. Then, use a cold compress on the affected area. After that, take anti-inflammatory medicine. You also want to apply over-the-counter antihistamines.
The following explains why you should follow the above steps:
- Soap and water can disinfect the affected area.
- Cold compression reduces the swelling.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine lessens inflammation.
- Antihistamine can help reduce itchiness.
How To Keep Wasps Away
You now understand why wasps sting people and what you should do if you find yourself attacked by wasps. But what if the wasps live near your house? Or what if they try to make a nest around your home?
Even though wasps are helpful pollinators and kill insects, they’re pests you should keep away from your home. To keep wasps away from your home, you can take certain precautions, which include:
Don’t Leave Food Lying Around
As already discussed in this article, wasps come out of their nests looking for food. Therefore, if you leave food out in the open, it’s very likely to attract wasps. If you do have food outside, make sure you keep them properly covered.
Spray Peppermint Oil
You can prevent wasps from hanging around outside your home by using peppermint oil. These insects aren’t fans of such oil. Follow the steps below to prepare a peppermint solution at home:
- Find a dedicated spray bottle for the solution.
- Mix peppermint oil, liquid dish soap, and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution around your home to keep wasps away. Make sure to do this occasionally, as the smell will wear off.
Keep Your Trash Cans Covered
Trash cans, especially with food scraps, should always be closed to avoid attracting pests, including wasps. Wasps have a good sense of smell and can smell your trash cans from a distance. These insects like sweet smells but won’t hesitate to go after the smell of decomposing meat.
Repair Any Cracks and Seal Any Gaps
Wasps are known to form nests in every hollow and crack they can find. There can easily be thousands of wasps in a single colony, and you don’t want them to feel threatened by your presence. So it’s best not to have them in the first place.
To prevent a wasp infestation, make sure to patch those up before the summer.
Plant Wasp Repellent Herbs and Plants
Wasps dislike plants and herbs that have pungent smells. Consider planting lemongrass or citronella to keep wasps at bay. You can also use marigold or mint if you like. Besides deterring wasps, these plants are also good for cooking and as decoratives.
Use a Mixture of Essential Oils
Many people use clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils to keep their homes wasp-free. Just mix any of the essential oil mentioned with some dish detergent and water. Then, spray the solution in areas that wasps are likely to visit or try to build a nest, like tight spaces.
The fear of getting stung by a wasp makes people overlook that there might be a reason behind it. Generally, wasps are only aggressive when threatened. If you don’t bother the wasps, they won’t attack you. Avoid making sudden movements near a wasp nest. If you do get chased down by wasps, try your best to find a safe place to hide.
- Truly Nolen Canada: Do Wasps Sting Us for No Reason?
- Campus University of Konstanz: Avoiding summer’s sting
- Independent.ie: If you kill a wasp, it will warn the others
- Quora: Will wasps sting you if you ignore them?
- Britannica: Know how bees and wasps use pheromones to communicate danger
- Pest Pointers: 5 Colors Wasps Are Attracted To (And Why They Like Them)
- Pest Pointers: 8 Scents That Wasps Hate (And How To Use Them)
- The Spruce: 8 Natural Home Wasp Repellant Tips
- WebMD: Remedies for Wasp Stings
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Insect Stings
- NZ Ministry of Health: Bee and wasp stings
- RSPB: Wasp