We have all experienced wasps interrupting our barbecues and picnics, but what is it that attracts them?
Wasps are scavengers and will be attracted to food. During the spring they will be attracted to sugary foods, but also meat which they use to feed the larvae developing in the nests. During the fall and early winter, they will become more active in seeking sugary foods.
Let’s take a closer look at why they are attracted to different foods at different times of the year and which foods they are attracted to the most.
Why are bees attracted to meat in the spring?
During the spring and summer wasp larvae are developing in the nests and worker wasps are tasked with feeding them. They need protein to develop and this hunger drives the wasps to prey on other insects. They will kill a variety of insects as a food source including bees, caterpillars, and flies. They will chop them up and feed them to the larvae. See this article about wasps eating meat
Wasps are very opportunistic and given the chance will happily take chunks of meat from our table to take back to their nests.
Why do wasps actively seek our sugary foods in the fall?
During the spring and summer wasps have an active supply of carbohydrates in the form of a sweet substance secreted by the larvae within the wasp nest. The wasps feed them pieces of insects and meat and in return, the larvae provide them with the sugary food they need.
In the fall this supply of sugar ends, however, as the larvae by then will have developed into wasps themselves. Wasps are left with fewer options and go out in search of a source of sugar.
What types of food are wasps most attracted to?
The more sugary the food the more it will attract wasps. Jam and honey are particularly attractive to wasps. Rotting fruit is also a draw to wasps, so fruit juices and even beer will also attract wasps. Beer is made from fermented sugars so will appeal to wasps in the same way that soft fermenting rotting apples do. During the spring and summer meat will also attract them.
What can be done to stop wasps being attracted to food?
It is sensible to avoid attracting wasps by clearing away food once it is finished with. Wasps may well remember where they have found an easy source of food in the past. Pet food can also attract wasps, so it is best not to leave it outside. Stored food should be kept in tightly sealed containers wherever possible.
Wasp traps are a popular method of trying to distract wasps from your food. One common and simple method is to cut the top off a plastic bottle and invert the top. Fill it with orange juice or beer. The wasps will fly into the bottle but struggle to find their way back out through the small bottle opening. Beer can actually assist as it will intoxicate the bees making it even more difficult for them to escape. See this article about wasps’ attraction to beer.