Wasps create a nasty buzz on the terraces of bars and eating places

Wasps are increasingly being spotted on patios in Ottawa, and some restaurants are using home remedies — as well as stronger solutions — to deal with the unexpected and unwelcome diners.

Grant Marley, general manager of the Senate Tavern, says that two weeks ago he noticed there were more wasps than usual on the patio.

Restaurants are dealing with an influx of wasps disturbing their patios. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

“I can’t even describe the numbers, [people were unable to sit]’ Marley said.

Tom Onuferko, research associate in zoology at the Canadian Museum of Nature, said it’s normal to see more wasps at this time of year. But Marley said the problem appears to be worse than last year.

Homemade honey ginger beer mix

To keep the wasps away, Marley decided to make a mix of honey and ginger beer. He filled plastic cups with the mixture, covered them with cellophane and poked holes in the lids.

Grant Marley poses on the terrace of the Senate Tavern with two homemade wasp traps on either side in a clear container with an orange lid. Grant Marley at the Senate Tavern with two homemade wasp traps filled with a mix of honey and ginger beer in the containers with orange lids. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

They have scattered the cups on the patio hoping the wasps will pay more attention to them than to their customers.

“When you sit down, they still swarm around you, but it definitely helps where they’re not swarming,” Marley said.

It is better to use a coaster as a cup protector, which some customers have chosen.

Ottawa morning3:52wasp buzz

There are a lot of wasps out there right now and some people are finding creative ways to make them buzz.

Spray to keep the problem from getting worse

But other restaurants with a more serious wasp problem have turned to spraying to solve the problem.

Amy Luther, managing director of Mill Street Brew Pub, said they had professional firms come in to spray the outside of their building to get rid of the numerous wasp nests there.

On a table are two plastic cups filled with a mixture of honey, ginger and beer.  The tops are covered in cellophane with holes poked through to allow the wasps to enter.Marley filled plastic cups with a mixture of honey and ginger beer to lure wasps away from customers. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Employees even told Luther how bad it was in other places and at home.

“It was a really serious problem,” Luther said, adding it was the worst the wasps had seen in years.

“The number of wasps we saw this year compared to last year is so much higher than in 2020.”

your solutions

On Twitter, @Sheila_YT suggested putting bowls of cloves on tables because the scent repels most wasps.

We use bowls of cloves on our tables – learned from patios in Victoria BC. The scent deters (most!) wasps.

Our hope is that Ottawa’s patios will stay open for as long as possible: it’s the only way we can safely dine out during the ongoing pandemic*. We like to wear coats with it!


Someone on Instagram said to burn Turkish coffee and the smell and smoke will put them off.

Response to CBC’s Instagram story asking for suggestions on how to deal with wasps. (CBC News)

Another person suggested setting out a bowl of sugar water for them to eat and ignore other available foods.

Response to CBC’s Instagram story asking for suggestions on how to deal with wasps. (CBC News)

Do you have any other tips? Email us at [email protected]

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