Nothing can bring a relaxing afternoon in the backyard to a halt quite as quickly as an aggravated colony of wasps. Wasp traps and pest control services can keep wasps from building nests around your house, but I was surprised to find that the source of these aggressive insects is often your bird feeders!
Wasps tend to ignore bird seed and mealworms, but are often attracted to the sweet and sticky nectar of hummingbird feeders. Towards the end of the summer, when the supply of food is scarce, wasps can become hostile towards their competitors in the food chain. They will sting birds and other wildlife to keep them away from the food. Large swarms of wasps will sometimes even build nests near these feeders and scare off the birds you worked so hard to attract!
Many common birds will actually prey on solitary, docile wasps. The bird’s feathers are usually sufficient to protect it from being hurt badly by the sting of a single wasp. Thanks to this protection, these birds are usually pretty good about keeping lone wasps like mud daubers and paper wasps away from your bird feeders. If you’re looking to attract birds that will help eat the wasps, try some of these:
- and especially tanagers!
Are birds afraid of wasps
While a single wasp isn’t much of a threat to a much bigger bird, a swarm of yellow jackets can be another story. The stings of dozens of wasps over a short period of time can be painful and even deadly to many common birds. Because of this, many birds fear large swarms of wasps and will even move their nests or stop coming to a certain feeder in order to maintain their distance. An infestation of wasps in your backyard can easily drive away birds and other small wildlife that would otherwise visit there.
Do birds eat wasps
Many birds will eat a lone wasp every once in a while when given the chance, but blackbirds and starlings will hunt them down intentionally. These brightly colored birds will catch wasps in mid air and then slam them against a rock or tree branch to remove the stinger before enjoying their tasty treat.
Blackbirds and starlings will often come to your backyard naturally, they probably already visit you sometimes if you have bird feeders up! These birds love bird seed, so make sure to keep plenty of it in your feeders so they’ll stick around!
Of all the birds that eat wasps, I would particularly recommend attracting some tanagers to your yard. Tanagers are known for the brilliant colors of their feathers and their diet of primarily wasps and bees. With over 400 species of tanagers worldwide there are sure to be some near you. These brightly colored songbirds can be one of the best solutions for your wasp problem, and a beautiful addition to your backyard at the same time.
Tanagers often eat wasps in the same fashion as blackbirds and starlings, but will take it a step further by actually seeking out wasp nests to eat the larvae! A tanager will attack the wasp nest over and over again until the adult wasps flee, leaving the tanager to break open the nest and feast on the larvae inside.
This can be a great way to not only kill the wasps that are already in your yard, but to keep new ones from being born. Wasps are rarely scared of birds, so birds that only eat adult wasps aren’t extremely effective at driving the swarms away. Birds like tanagers which attack the wasp nest directly are a much better deterrent.
Tanagers love to nest high in the trees, so consider putting some bird feeders up higher to attract them. A birdbath can also attract tanagers and add a nice touch to your backyard. Try placing a birdbath near your bird feeders.
While they love to eat wasps and other large insects, tanagers also eat a lot of fresh fruit so try putting blackberries, ripe bananas, or orange slices in your bird feeders to improve your chances!
Keep wasps away from bird feeders
While attracting wasp-eating birds is the ideal solution, it doesn’t always work. You might struggle to attract blackbirds, starlings or tanagers to your yard no matter how much you try to create a habitat for them. Well don’t worry because you have plenty of other options!
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking your bird feeders down for a few days and then moving them to new locations every once in a while to confuse the wasps. These insects typically aren’t smart enough to go looking for the new location.
Many companies also sell products that help keep wasps away while not harming birds and other wildlife. One common solution is using wasp nest decoys. Wasps are very territorial, and if they see the decoy wasp nests near your bird feeders they will typically stay away. Some companies also sell dripless feeders, these tend to be less messy and keep nectar from dripping on the outside of the feeder, thus reducing the sweet smell that attracts wasps in the first place.
Another trick that I’ve found to be helpful is simply switching up the color of my bird feeders! Wasps are typically attracted to the color yellow, but stay away from bright red. Maybe try painting your birdhouses red or picking up a few red bird feeders.
In the same way, it can help to buy bright yellow wasp traps to hang near your bird feeders to lure the wasps in and keep them away from the bird feeders. You can also choose to hang your bird feeders in the shade for additional protection, as wasps generally try to stay in the sunlight.
Wasps can be seriously irritating, but with a little bit of creativity you can keep them away. Hopefully with these tips you can keep your backyard paradise free from the nuisance of pesky wasps, and maybe have a little added fun by attracting more birds to your yard.