How can I naturally repel pesty hornets(?) from vegetable planter?
May 2, 2015 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I bought standing planter boxes for my wife and she hasn't touched them yet because there are always 3-4 of these pests (hornets?) on the wood. She would like to plant strawberries and other edibles so we obviously don't want to use chemicals. Any advice on how to repel these buggers? Photo of bug
posted by Mikey51 to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have they built a nest in or on the boxes? If so, remove it. There's no such thing as hornet repellent, to my knowledge.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:55 AM on May 2, 2015

From the photo, it looks like a paper wasp that's scraping cellulose from your planter box to take elsewhere and build a nest. I think your best bet is to paint the exposed wood so they can't do that. If you google around you can find non-toxic paint or varnish.

There are also things called decoy wasp nests that supposedly encourage them to move elsewhere. If you don't mind killing them you can try some wasp traps, which are just water and sugar.
posted by Huck500 at 11:08 AM on May 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

You might be able to cover the wood for a while with foil and they'll go elsewhere. I'd eventually paint or seal the wood, though.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:13 PM on May 2, 2015

Painting the wood will keep them away, and I agree that it looks like a paper wasp.

Keep in mind, however, that these guys hunt the caterpillars that want to eat your edibles, so unless the nest is really in a problem area, you shouldn't kill them. Away from their nest, unless you really harass them, they don't wanna mess with you either.
posted by cmoj at 12:29 PM on May 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

My experience with wasps 'chewing' wood is that, since you're not near their nest and they're preoccupied with their job duties, the wasps are of no threat to you. I've spent many an afternoon, sitting on my back deck, watching yellowjackets chew long curly lines into the wood only inches from my head with no fear of being stung. Paper wasps are way less aggressive than yellowjackets -- paint the wood if the wasps are constantly in your way, but having them around is a good thing as cmoj mentioned, so maybe, before you paint, spend some time watching these guys closely to acclimate yourselves to these helpful neighbors :) The one in your photo is gorgeous.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:35 PM on May 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here's a thought: I'm guessing these paper wasps are snacking on OLD untreated, exposed wood.

Ever thought about treat most of the wood, but leave some where you want these paper wasps to go?
posted by kschang at 3:40 PM on May 3, 2015

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