For those who own property or work outdoors regularly, having a can of wasp spray on hand is a good idea. Even if you live in an area where wasps aren’t active year-round, when they are active, they can cause significant problems — and pain — in a short amount of time.
Wasp spray is a perfect tool for battling these stinging insects from afar. The can is designed to accurately direct the spray across a dozen or more feet. This means you can attack a wasp nest from a relatively safe distance. Wasp sprays, especially those sold for residential use, include a concentrated insecticide called pyrethrin, which is made from a species of chrysanthemum. This chemical kills insects on contact while leaving an odor in the area that deters wasps from returning.
If you have a wasp problem or just want to be prepared, we can help. We’ve looked at all the wasp sprays on the market and chosen a few of our favorites. We’ve also put together this buying guide with pointers to help you find the best product for your situation.
Know your enemy! Unlike bees that can only sting once, a wasp can sting you multiple times in just a few seconds.
The primary consideration when shopping for wasp spray is the difference in how the spray is sold. You can purchase residential versions that are ready to spray or concentrated commercial versions.
This type of wasp spray comes ready to use without any mixing or secondary containers. This is the easiest option to use. It comes in an aerosol can with a trigger on the top. When you press the trigger, it ejects the spray through a narrow nozzle. This design allows you to spray the chemical accurately over some distance, and that distance should be printed on the can. The farther away you can stand from the wasps, the safer you’ll be.
Most wasp sprays are meant for use outdoors, not indoors. Use a flyswatter or similar tool to kill a wasp indoors.
Commercial wasp sprays ship in a concentrated form in a large bottle. You mix the concentrated chemicals with water to create your own wasp spray mixture. You must provide the spraying mechanism when using this product. Some commercial wasp sprays use cypermethrin to kill wasps, which works more quickly than the chemicals in residential sprays. It keeps other wasps away from the area for a longer period, too.
Wasp sprays are formulated to kill wasps and nests outdoors and should not be used indoors.
Residential sprays are easy to use. Commercial options are typically more powerful but might require mixing. We assess both types to help consumers decide which is best for them.
We look at how many ounces are in a can. Residential sprays typically contain 12 to 20 ounces. Once mixed, some commercial sprays can make gallons of product.
Keeping your distance when killing wasps is important, so we consider how far a spray reaches. Quality brands can spray more than 12 feet.
Some wasp sprays eliminate nests with one application. We research each product’s effectiveness.
Using a wasp spray can have unwanted consequences, such as staining clothing and killing pollinators and plants. Always follow the instructions on a product’s packaging.
Wasp spray is available in liquid and foam forms. We assess the effectiveness of both, including how well foam creates a barrier that prevents wasps from entering their nests.
We advise readers on safety precautions to take during use, such as keeping the spray away from pets and kids and the best time to spray a nest.
The nozzle of a wasp spray is key. We want to know how well a nozzle works and how easy it is to operate.
We check if the wasp spray contains pyrethrin, a powerful insecticide that kills most wasps on contact and prevents others from coming back into the nest.
Wasp spray features
Consistency: Some wasp sprays are a clear liquid; others look like white foam when they leave the can. Some people prefer foam because it’s easier to see than a clear liquid. Foam also traps the insects against the nest. The clear liquids are often used for commercial versions of wasp spray.
Capacity: Pay attention to the amount of spray contained in an aerosol can. Some cans may contain 12 or 14 ounces while others have up to 20 ounces. If you’re interested in comparing prices accurately, do the math and figure out the cost per ounce.
Unintended damage: Some wasp sprays can stain clothing or kill plants in the area. Others are safe to use anywhere outdoors. Check the instructions on the can to make sure it’s nonstaining and safe to use around plants if this is a concern for you.
Don’t stand directly under the nest as you spray. Some of the chemicals could drip down after they strike the nest. Spray while standing at an angle to the nest.
Wasp spray prices
Individual cans: Wasp spray is an inexpensive insecticide. You can purchase a single can for $3 to $10. For the average person, one can should last all spring and summer when the insects are most active.
Pricier wasp sprays typically have a higher concentration of the chemical that eliminates the insects. However, as long as the nest is small or unfinished, a spray with the standard concentration of chemical should do the job adequately.
Multipacks: To save some money or to handle frequent problems with wasps, you can purchase multipacks containing 2 to 12 or more cans. You might be able to save a dollar or two per can this way.
Concentrate: The greatest value is in sprays sold in concentrated form. However, most customers don’t need this much wasp spray. Concentrates are aimed at professional exterminators or consumers who have ongoing problems with wasps.
Keep the wind at your back as you spray. A strong breeze from the side can spread the chemicals over a wide area and affect the accuracy of your spray.
- Always follow the instructions. Even if you’ve used wasp spray before, don’t assume the directions on your new can are the same. Always read the instructions and safety precautions before use.
- Wear protective clothing. Before using the wasp spray, try to cover as much of your exposed skin as possible. If you’re eliminating a large nest, you might want to invest in safety gear similar to what a beekeeper wears. Certainly, no spray can be delivered perfectly every time. Even when working from a dozen or more feet away, you could be stung. Always be on the alert for insects that move before the spray strikes them, because they may attack you.
- Saturate the nest. Try to strike the nest with as much spray as you safely can. Wasp sprays not only kill wasps on contact but also deter other wasps from visiting the area. Wasps that survive the initial spraying won’t return to a saturated nest.
- Don’t use wasp spray for other purposes. Some people may recommend using wasp spray for self-defense, replacing pepper spray. Wasp spray is not proven to be as effective as pepper spray against humans, though. It also may not be legal to use wasp spray against humans, depending on the laws in your area.
Other products we considered
Although we anticipate most people will get the results they want from one of the wasp sprays in our matrix, we considered a few other products. The Spectracide Wasp and Hornet Killer has a lower price than its Pro version, with solid results. The Raid Max Foaming Wasp & Hornet Killer spray is a highly visible foam, so you can see exactly where the spray is landing. When you want to be sure to kill the wasps on contact, the BASF PT Wasp Freeze II is an effective, albeit pricey, spray. Another wasp spray with fast knockdown is the CRC Industries Wasp and Hornet Killer Plus, but its spray only works accurately up to 15 feet.
After you’ve sprayed the wasps, keep pets and children away from the area for a couple of hours.
Q. When is the best time to use wasp spray?
A. Wasps are least active early in the morning, just before sunset, and when temperatures are lower. These insects are extremely active in the middle of the day when temperatures are high. Using a spray when the wasps are less active is safer for you because wasps that escape the spray will be less likely to attack you.
Q. How do I know if a wasp nest is active?
A. If you see wasps crawling around a nest, it’s active. Sometimes wasps start to build a nest in a certain spot before giving up and moving to a new location. If you don’t see wasps actively crawling on an unfinished, open nest, you can knock it down without having to use spray. Treat any enclosed, finished nest as active even if you don’t see wasps.
Q. How far away should I stand from the nest?
A. Any can of consumer-level wasp spray should indicate the distance over which you can safely use it. The farther away you stand, the less accurate you will be. On the other hand, swarming wasps are more likely to sting you if you’re closer to the nest and you miss them with the spray. Stand near the limit of the recommended distance.
Q. How dangerous can wasp spray be to people and the environment?
A. Wasp spray is an insecticide, meaning it contains poisonous chemicals and should be treated with care. Don’t use it around pet food or water. Move potted plants away from the area. If any of the spray contacts your skin, wash the area thoroughly. If you’re worried about residue near the sprayed nest, wash the area a few hours after application with warm water, soap, and a sponge or scrub brush.