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Can Wasps Smell Fear? (And See At Night?)

Can Wasps Smell Fear? (And See At Night?)

Coming across a wasp flying around can stop you in your tracks. You are afraid of the wasp and what a potential sting could mean. But can wasps smell fear

It’s difficult to say if wasps can smell fear. They do, however, have a keen sense of smell and can smell pheromones released by fearful animals. When you are frightened, wasps will smell fear pheromones and hormones you release.

If you don’t show any fear by sudden movement or trying to kill the wasp, you have no cause for alarm. A wasp will only attack you if it feels threatened. When a wasp attacks you, it’s not that it has smelt fear, but your reaction has startled it. The wasp’s subsequent reaction will be to attack you.

Can Wasps Sense Fear?

Some people say that because wasps have three senses of sight, smell, and taste, they can sense your fear and become bold enough to sting you. The belief is false; however, what wasps sense is any sudden reaction caused by fear.

Wasps will attack you not because they can sense your fear but because of your reactions to it. Wasps may perceive your sudden movement as an attempt to attack them, and their natural response will be to sting you.

When you try to brush the wasp off your clothes or swat it with your hands, it will activate its attack mode by stinging you.

Can Wasps See at Night?

Wasps have tiny eyes that can’t see well at night, the activities they can undertake at night. Because of their poor vision at night, they prefer to do their work during the day and sleep at night.

Wasps have two sets of eyes, compound and simple eyes. Compound eyes have a low resolution. This factor alone makes it nearly impossible for wasps to see clearly at night. The only wasp with larger, simple eyes that can see at night is the polybiine wasp. The polybiine wasp’s large simple eyes make it easy for them to navigate by moonlight.

During the day, their eyes can capture sufficient light to see. At night with insufficient light, their eyes cannot see clearly. There will hardly be any movement in the wasp nest during the night, but they can and will move at night if they need to.

Wasps can’t see well at night, yet they’re drawn to any light source. It is not good to use a flashlight on wasps at night since they can quickly move out of their inactive state.

Are Wasps Active at Night?

Wasps are most active during the day and retire to their nests at night. They are not nocturnal. The only activities wasps undertake at night are taking care of their nests or larvae, but most of them are inactive.

You can walk safely around their nest at night without fear of attack from the wasps as long as you don’t cause them any disturbance. While most wasps will be collecting food and dropping it at their nests during the day, they will be feeding their young ones at night. They will also be trying to repair their nests.

Most people recommend that wasp nests be destroyed at night when the wasps are not active. You should only destroy the wasp nests if you can do it well; otherwise, they may attack and sting you while trying to defend their nests.

Do not mistake their dormancy at night and think they cannot harm you. When they perceive you as a threat, they will attack.

What are Wasps Scared of?

Wasps are a nuisance as fear of their sting will make you afraid to be near them. Killing them is not the only solution. If you can identify what can scare wasps away, you can manage to keep them away from your home and garden.

Let us look at what wasps are scared of and know if you can use them to your advantage.

  • Deterrent flowers and herbs: The following flowers can be helpful in your garden. They smell great when planted in your garden but will keep wasps at bay. Spearmint, Thyme, eucalyptus leaves, pennyroyals, lemongrass, and marigolds are plants that will keep wasps away. Geraniums have a pungent smell that wasps detest.
  • Decoy wasps nests: Wasps are scared to venture into areas where other wasps reside.  They will avoid making nests where they can see another established wasp nest. Why don’t you make decoy nests or buy one? Keeping the decoys around your garden will keep wasps far away.
  • Homemade remedies: Keep wasps away from your home and garden by making homemade sprays with white vinegar. Slice up pieces of cucumbers and place them on aluminum. The reaction of the two will keep wasps away from your home and garden.  A mixture of dried bay leaves, chili, or cinnamon powder scattered around where wasps tend to frequent will get rid of them fast.
  • Human beings: Unfortunately, to wasps, human beings will always be perceived as a threat. They are scared that human beings will always try to harm them and destroy their nests. Wasps are afraid that a person can step on their nest accidentally. That’s why they are always on alert when they see you nearby.

Can Wasps Remember Human Faces?

Scientists have indicated that a certain wasp species known as the golden paper wasp can clearly remember their fellow wasps’ faces. The golden paper wasps are considered the most social in the wasp species, hence a need for them to recognize their kin’s faces.

How are they able to do this? By using the exact facial processing mechanisms that we humans use. They can learn the white and black images(achromatic) associated with human faces.

Just as humans can differentiate faces using different features, the golden paper wasp can do the same.

Why Do Wasps Follow You?

Wasps following you around may not be a strange thing. You need to understand that wasps will only attack you if they perceive you as a threat. When you notice a wasp following you, the best thing to do is to keep calm and try to understand why.

Here are several reasons why a wasp could be following you: 

  1. Wasps will follow you when they perceive you as a source of food. When you have a scent that might indicate the presence of food, they will follow you, trying to investigate. Fruity and sweet-smelling scents will have wasps swarming around you in no time. Some people have used sugar items to trap and kill wasps as they know their attraction for sweet things.
  1. Bright colors are a significant attraction for the wasp; when you wear brightly colored clothes, wasps will follow you. If you wear yellow garments, wasps will mistake you for a flower. Since they also feed on nectar, you can become their target.
  1. When you notice a wasp following, it could be because it’s suspicious of your activities, especially if there is a wasp nest nearby. It is just following to ensure that you are not heading towards its nest or trying to destroy it. Should the wasp sense any danger, it will warn the others, and you can get attacked.
  1. As funny as it may sound, it could be the wasp, and you were going in the same direction. You happened to look behind and saw a wasp behind you going in the same direction as you and generally assumed that it was following you. As long as you don’t try to swat it or do any sudden movement, I believe it will peacefully go on its way.

Can Wasps Kill You?

It is infrequent for a single wasp sting to kill you. However, there are two ways in which wasp stings can prove fatal. The occurrences are rare, but they can happen.

If you suffer from anaphylaxis which is an extreme allergic reaction wasp sting can cause. The sting causes your body to go into shock and, in some circumstances, can shut down your body, leading to death.  

Another possibility of a wasp killing you is when you receive too many stings. Unless swarms and swarms of wasps sting you, your chances of dying from a single wasp bite are scarce. Some people claim that 1000 stings are enough to kill you, which is probably too. That number of stings will be too many for you to survive. 


While the fear of a wasp is natural for most people, we have learned that a wasp is quite friendly as long as you don’t disturb them. As long as they don’t perceive you as a threat, you can both go on with your activities. Unlike its cousin, the hornet, which can attack you without any provocation, a wasp will only attack you if you’re a threat.

The way you react when you come across a wasp will determine whether it will attack you or not. Don’t act hastily due to fear. Wasps are not active during the night, but you still have to approach their nests carefully at night.