British Columbia is home to over 15 separate species of wasps that are most active from April through September. Unfortunately, this coincides with perfect patio season leaving many homeowners annoyed with these uninvited guests. Read on to discover our best tips on how to eat outside wasp free this summer!


  • How to tell wasps and bees apart
  • What do wasp nests look like? 
  • When are wasps a problem?
  • How to prevent wasps 

How to tell wasps and bees apart

Wasps are a diverse group of insects characterized by their slender bodies, narrow waists, and distinct yellow and black pattern. Common pest wasps in Canada include hornets, yellow jackets, paper wasps and mud daubers. You can easily tell wasps and bees apart by remembering: wasps are skinny and smooth while bees are fat and fuzzy!

What do wasp nests look like?

Most wasps live in colonies with hundreds to thousands of individuals and the appearance of their nests varies depending on the species. Some wasps such as yellow jackets and hornets construct hanging nests shaped like footballs, which are attached to tree branches, railings, or eaves. Others like paper wasps create single-layer nests with exposed honeycomb shapes. Some species even build their nests underground, such as mud daubers or certain solitary wasps. 

Types of wasp nests

When are wasps a problem?

Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times, and their stings can be particularly dangerous for individuals with allergies, occasionally leading to fatalities. Moreover, they are highly territorial, making the presence of a wasp nest near one’s home hazardous. If you suspect there is a wasp nest on your property call in professional pest control immediately. However, if there is no nest on your property but you still encounter unwanted wasps during outdoor activities, the following tips can help you deter these unwelcome visitors and maintain a pleasant summer experience.

How to prevent wasps

To deter wasps from your property you can take several steps:

  • Clean Crumbs & Spills: Wasps are mainly attracted to sugary substances such as pops, fruits and deserts, and protein-rich foods such as meats. Ensure that after every meal your patio is clean and free of any food residues or spills.
  • Cover Food and Drinks: When you’re eating or drinking outside, keep food covered with lids or mesh screens to prevent wasps from being attracted to it. This is especially important for pop cans or beer bottles that wasps can easily fly into without being noticed. 
  • Remove Standing Water: Wasps also need water to survive, so removing birdbaths, pet bowls, or buckets that may collect rainwater can deter them. 
  • Plant Repellent Herbs & Flowers: Some plants have natural insect-repellant properties. Consider growing plants like wormwood, mint and thyme around your patio to discourage wasps from coming near.
  • Install Wasp Traps: There are many different wasp traps that can be purchased and set up to capture wasps. Make sure to be careful when handling traps with wasps in them and thoroughly read the instructions before using them. 
  • Consult a Professional: If you notice more than a handful of wasps on your property or the wasps are particularly aggressive, there’s likely a wasp nest nearby. It’s best to consult a pest control professional who can assess the situation, find any nests present on your property and safely address your wasp problem.

Safety Tip:

Remember, it’s important to take caution when dealing with wasps, as they can sting if they feel threatened. If you’re unsure about handling the situation yourself, it’s always best to seek professional assistance.

Old Island Pest Control offers pest management and exterminator services for both residential and commercial properties. We have local pest control experts at locations across Vancouver Island including Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum, Courtenay, Victoria and Campbell River. Call us today to learn how we can help.