How can I prevent wasps from eating the cherries on my trees before I can pick them?

Asked February 28, 2015, 1:26 PM EST

I have two cherry trees in my backyard. When the cherries are getting close to being picked, wasps will eat them. If I pick the cherries early to prevent the wasps from eating them, they aren't as good. I have tried hanging fake wasp nests and using wasp traps but they seem to focus on the cherries just at the right time no matter what I do. Thank you for any suggestions.

Douglas County Oregon insect issues lrk cherry trees

1 Response

Birds and the insects are much better than we are at determining when the fruit has reached that perfect point of ripeness and will undoubtedly get there first. Traps are available that can be baited with raw meat or rotting fruit, and while they may attract and catch a few of the wasps, it won't be enough to make a difference to your crop.

Once the wasps have taken the meat from the cherry, they go straight back to their nest to feed their nest mates. The best place to control them is in the nest, but there is a lot of danger in this. They do sting, and some people are deathly allergic to their stings. Following them back to their home can be dangerous and if you stumble upon the entrance, they can attack en masse to protect it.

Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the Oregon State University, says the only way to destroy a nest is to do it at night when wasps are inside and are slowed down by the cool air. Use only an aerosol can that will project a stream of insecticide up to 20 feet so that you can stand a safe distance away. From my experience, even this is not perfect, and I have had angry wasps follow the stream back to the source (me).