For the past two years, my small lawn seems to be attracting wasps. They fly low, land on the grass, and then fly away. I’m worried about stepping on them, or stepping on a nest. Any suggestions? -Lynn
In general, wasps are beneficial predator insects in the garden, but sometimes they can be attracted to areas that are too close for human comfort. When wasps are in and around lawn grasses, it is usually due to one of three reasons:
- They are preying on insects or larvae in the lawn soil. Digger wasps, for instance, often fly low over lawns in the mornings, looking for grubs and larvae. They are considered beneficial insects and generally can be left alone.
- They are seeking sugar through fallen fruit, spilled food or drinks, or aphid “honeydew.” We’ve all experienced wasps buzzing around our outdoor picnics, but some lawns also become covered with natural sugars as fruits and berries ripen and fall.
- They are nesting or burrowing. Cicada killers are common ground-burrowing wasps that may be spotted by the tiny piles of soil outside the burrows. Many types of wasps, including cicada killers, are solitary creatures, so their nests will be more difficult to spot than the large colonies of their more social relatives.
Here are some ways to reduce or deal with nuisance wasps in your lawn and garden:
- Keep trash cans covered.
- Rinse out recyclables before putting them outside.
- Don’t leave open or spilled food (including pet food) or drink outdoors.
- Rake up and throw away fallen fruit and berries.
- Keep your compost pile turned to bury attractive food wastes.
- Keep your lawn healthy, and mow it high. A thick, dense lawn defends itself against ground-burrowing wasps and other insect or grub infestations.
- If wasps are out hunting for lawn-destroying grubs and larvae, leave them alone (and thank them for providing organic pest control!).
There are many different types of wasps, and in order to address your problem it would be most helpful to identify what sort of wasp you have. For help identifying bees and wasps in your lawn and garden, check out What’s Buzzin’ in My Garden? at Pollinator.com.