Can you drive away hornets?

Can you drive away hornets?

Be careful, fine! Hornets are not allowed to kill

“Hornets have become rarer and are threatened with extinction. Since they rarely attack humans, they are by no means as dangerous as one usually thinks. " (from: “Diseases of the Bee” by Enoch Zander)

also read

  • Are hornets nocturnal?
  • Hornets: gigantic but peaceful
  • Which plants help against wasps and hornets

Because of their size, hornets frighten many people, especially since the old saying “five hornet stings kill a horse, three a person (...)” is still haunted in their heads. So it's no wonder that the hornet's nest is about to give way or that people panic trying to drive the animals out of their garden. But be careful: According to the provisions of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, hornets are protected by law and may not be caught or killed. This not only means that you must not kill the individual animal on the coffee table with the heel of your shoe, removing hornet nests is also prohibited. In the event of a violation, the authorities can impose a fine of up to EUR 50,000 on you.

Sell ​​hornets legally - you have these options

However, you can drive hornets out of your home or garden as long as the animals are not harmed. There are a few simple ways and means available to you for this, which we will present to you here. In addition, you don't need to be afraid of hornets: The animals are peaceful and tend to avoid confrontations rather than attack you. Also, while a hornet sting is painful, it is no more toxic or dangerous than any other insect bite.


Avoid and eliminate attractants

Hornets are attracted by certain smells. If you keep these scents under lock and key or eliminate the cause, the animals will not even get lost in your garden. Hornets find these smells particularly irresistible:

  • Sap-rich trees : In contrast to their insect-eating larvae, adult hornets feed to a large extent on tree and plant sap . In particular, the sweet tree sap of particularly juicy species such as lilac, willow, ash or birch attracts the animals, so that they often settle in the vicinity of these food sources.
  • Windfall : The same applies to sweet apples, pears and other windfalls, which not only attract hungry hornets in the summer months. Above all, collect stone fruit, but also grapes and apples in good time so that they do not attract any insects in the first place. It is best to store harvested fruit and other sweet foods under a glass cover so that their scent does not attract hornets or wasps.

In addition, like so many insects, the hornets, which are also active at night, control every light source in the dark. You should therefore avoid having lights on permanently in the garden. This also includes doing without the solar lamps that have been popular for some time.


Instead of cutting down beautiful and healthy trees, you can rub their trunks with a scent that is unattractive for hornets. Clove oil, for example, is very suitable for this. This measure makes sense if hornets return every year and you want to get rid of them permanently.

Use scents to drive away hornets

Just as hornets are attracted to some scents, others repel them. The animals are very easy to drive away with the following smells:

Clove oilDrizzle in scented bowls and place on the terrace or window sill
ClovesCrush and place together with lemon peel or oil in endangered places
Incense sticksBurn down on the windowsill or coffee table
Incense bowlset up in endangered places
coffeeeither drink hot, fragrant coffee or light and burn coffee powder
Lemonscut open and distribute strategically
lemon oilDrizzle in scented bowls and place on the terrace or window sill
garliccut open and distribute strategically

The means mentioned are very suitable for keeping hornets out of the apartment or the covered coffee table on the summer terrace. Of course, they are not a panacea because some hungry animals find the delicious smells more attractive than the unpleasant ones more repulsive. But above all, clove oil proves to be effective again and again, also against other wasp species such as the much more annoying common wasp (Vespula vulgaris).

drive away hornets

Some plants help against hornets

Some plants, which for us have a very pleasant smell, are also wonderfully suitable for driving away hornets or keeping them away. Put them in strategic places in the garden (for example next to the lilac) or place them, planted in pots, around the terrace or on the windowsill. Unless the hornet's nest is in the immediate vicinity, the animals will avoid the plants in question. The following types are best:

  • Basil (bot. Ocimum basilicum)
  • Lavender (bot.Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Peppermint and other mints (bot. Mentha × piperita)
  • Tomatoes (bot. Solanum lycopersicum)
  • Frankincense plant (bot.Plectranthus coleoides)
  • Lemon balm (bot. Melissa officinalis)

All of these plants can be easily cultivated in pots and other planters and can even be used in the kitchen and for other purposes. A sachet of dried lavender, for example, creates a pleasant floral scent in the wardrobe and keeps clothes moths away.

Distraction instead of driving away

If there is a hornet's nest in the garden and you don't want the animals to constantly fly onto the terrace, you can use simple means to distract them if necessary. Place delicious bait in the form of ripe fruit in a strategically favorable place not far from the nest - and as far away as possible from heavily frequented places such as a children's playground. In particular, apples, pears, grapes and stone fruits (such as peaches and nectarines, plums or cherries) attract hornets. So that the sweet scent exudes more intensely, it is best to cut the fruits open and place them on flat bowls.

Beware of smoke and water

Many a guide suggests chasing away hornets with smoke or water. For example, the suggestion is made to grill a smoke-intensive barbecue near the nest or to spray the nest with a garden hose. Please refrain from such ideas, because on the one hand both fire and water cause considerable damage to the animals and on the other hand the hornet colony could respond to such a measure with an angry attack. The same thing can happen if you spray or smoke individual animals directly with water. However, there is nothing wrong with lighting incense sticks and placing them on the table.


Is an electric insect repeller worth it?

Electric insect repellants are battery-operated devices that emit a high-frequency sound at the push of a button and are intended to drive away insects in this way. From experience it can be said that these devices do not or not satisfactorily fulfill their purpose for hornets and many other insects and you can therefore save yourself this expense.

How do you get hornets out of the apartment?

drive away hornets

Especially in spring hornets get lost in the apartment more often, because at this time the hornet queen is busy looking for food as well as a suitable place for her nest. But even in the course of the summer one or the other animal can fly away, for example because it perceives an irresistible scent in this direction or is attracted by a light source in the dark. Prevent such random flights by providing windows and doors with insect screens and cultivating unpopular plants on hornets on the window sills. But once the hornet is in your own four walls, you can get rid of it as follows.

Catching hornets - that's how it works

Basically, according to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, the capture of hornets is not allowed, which is why you should not actually lend a hand. Sometimes, however, there is no other way and the animal has to get out again soon. Be careful not to harm it and then release it outside. On the other hand, vacuuming with a vacuum cleaner, hunting with a fly swatter or any other aid with the aim of killing the insect is strictly forbidden.

With glass and cardboard

This old trick has already proven itself on many occasions and helps to catch stray hornets undamaged and then to release them back into the open. And that's how it works:

  • Take a clear glass or an appropriate plastic cup.
  • You'll also need a piece of cardboard or thick paper to cover the bottom of the glass.
  • Have everything ready and wait for the hornet to settle on a surface that is easily accessible to you.
  • Now approach slowly and with careful movements.
  • Once you have reached the point, quickly pull the glass with the opening over the insect.
  • Now push the cardboard or paper under the opening so that it is now covered.
  • Take the jar outside with the cardboard and hornet.
  • Release the animal to freedom.

Light trap

If, on the other hand, the hornet gets lost in the living room when it is dark outside, use this trick to shoo it outside again: switch off all light sources in the apartment, open the windows completely and switch on a lamp in front of them - but from outside . The animal will follow the light and so find its way out again by itself. Naturally, this works best in an apartment on the ground floor or one with a balcony.


Caution: Wasp traps also attract hornets

Wasp traps are available from specialist retailers, which mostly work with an attractant and also attract hornets - after all, these are also a wasp species. For private users, however, electric traps that attract the animals with UV light and then kill them with an electric shock are prohibited. If you are caught in the garden with such a device, you can be fined very heavily. The same applies, by the way, if you are only targeting “normal” wasps: These are also protected and must not be killed or otherwise controlled.

So that it doesn't get that far in the first place: Prevent nest building

drive away hornets

The best way to stop a summer hornet plague, however, is to prevent nest building in spring. You may not remove an already built nest without official permission, but the queen will prevent it from being built. From April onwards, keep an eye on endangered areas such as tree hollows, roller shutter boxes, wooden houses in the garden, etc. If a single hornet keeps flying in and out there, it is probably the queen building the nest. Wait until it flies out and seal the flight area with a close-meshed insect net, construction foam or other impermeable material.

Eliminate hornet's nest - can you do it yourself?

Unless you are a beekeeper, you are not allowed to remove a hornet's nest yourself. In any case, you need an official permit for such a project, which you can apply to the Lower Nature Conservation Authority in your region, for example. However, it is only granted in exceptional cases and if there is an actual risk from the hornets. If you are given permission, you can hire the local fire brigade, a certified pest controller or a beekeeper to do this. You bear the resulting costs yourself.

Relocate hornet swarm - is that possible?

The nest and the hornets that live in it are not destroyed, even if removed by the authorities, but simply relocated. What you can try yourself, for example because the hornets have built their nest near the terrace, is to get the animals to move yourself. To do this, hang up a hornet box near the nest and prepare it with attractants. With a little luck (and provided it is early enough in the year and the construction of the old nest has not yet progressed too far!) The hornets will settle there and can be moved to a slightly cheaper place.


Do not spray hornets

Many fearful contemporaries are tempted to spray the hornet with insect spray or hairspray and thus drive them away or kill them. This is forbidden according to the Federal Nature Conservation Act and should therefore be avoided - especially since hairspray sticks together the wings of the animals in such a way that they can no longer fly and therefore starve to death.

frequently asked Questions

Are Hornets Aggressive?

Hornets are big and look dangerous, but they're not. As a rule, the animals avoid humans and tend to flee rather than attack. The situation is different if you feel threatened and see no other choice but to attack: For example, because you are smoking out your nest, because you are near the nest at all (and possibly standing around in the flight path) or because you are making hectic movements.

How dangerous is a hornet sting?

A hornet sting is painful, but no more dangerous than that of a bee or wasp.

Are hornets poisonous?

Hornet poison is also no more poisonous than that of a wasp. On the contrary: most of the poison is even transmitted by a bee sting - these animals are much smaller.


In fact, hornets are very useful animals and keep all kinds of pests off your neck. For example, the wasp population in a garden with a hornet nest is much lower than in a garden with no hornets. So hang up a nesting box (€ 8.76 at Amazon *) for the giant wasps in a garden tree and do something good for the animals.