The Tabasco Hack That Will Keep Yellowjackets Away From Your Outdoor Parties

They are not on Field and Stream's list of 12 meanest insects in the world — that distinction belongs to bugs like the mosquito, tsetse fly, Indian Red, and black widow spider. Still, yellowjackets can be mean and aggressive, particularly during the fall, when its food stocks are low, and they get hangry per The Washington Post.

Autumn is not the only season we're likely to encounter this type of wasp; they are said to be more amiable in the spring when they are well-fed, and the population reaches its peak during the late summer, according to beekeeper Scott Famous. But even when they are on their best behavior, yellowjackets are not insects you want to cross paths with at any time because, unlike bees, their stingers allow them to continuously attack a victim, leaving a dose of venom every time.

So what happens when the weather is pleasant enough to entice both you and members of the local yellowjacket colony outdoors at the same time?

The main chemical in Tabasco repels pests including yellowjackets

If you find your outdoor party plagued by yellowjackets, you may want to go to your pantry for something you can't do without, particularly if you love spicy food — your bottle of Tabasco, which contains a naturally occurring chemical that insects in general (and not just yellowjackets) find particularly off-putting: capsaicin.

While exposure to excessive amounts of capsaicin can leave our eyes watering and our mouths burning, SFGate says the chemical has a different, more devastating effect on insects altogether. The National Pesticide Information Center says organisms that have been exposed to capsaicin end up with damage to their membranes, nervous systems, and metabolic processes. Capsaicin is so toxic to insects that it was listed with the Environmental Protection Agency as a repellent in 1962. Today, Tabasco works so well as a repellent that SFGate says that when the hot sauce is diluted, it can be used to protect plants against other pests too.

Tabasco is seen as a generally safe repellent

If you think using Tabasco to repel yellowjackets is a waste of good hot sauce, there are different types of commercial capsaicin-based preparations on the market that are just effective against insects, per the Environmental Protection Agency. But in a pinch, a little Tabasco goes a long way; as Dutch farmers have pointed out, five regular, supermarket-sized bottles are enough to protect 2.5 acres worth of crops from herbivorous predators, per Dirt Doctor.

If you want to make your own Tabasco repellent, SF Gate recommends adding a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap to either a cup of vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol, then adding 3 tablespoons of Tabasco diluted into a 1/2 cup of water — though many people claim that just water and hot sauce will do the trick. The spray not only keeps yellowjackets away, but it will protect your plants too. Just remember not to use it unless you're certain yellowjackets are around because it will deter other insects that might actually be good for your garden, like the all-important honeybee. For this reason, the outlet recommends spraying it on flowers only after they've bloomed.