Killing wasps with gasoline fumes is dangerous and ecologically thoughtless

Killing wasps and other stinging insects with gasoline in a container works but is dangerous and it ignores the ecological contribution of these 'pests'
Killing wasps and other stinging insects with gasoline in a container works but is dangerous and it ignores the ecological contribution of these ‘pests’. Screenshot.

As is so often seen on social media and particularly TikTok there is a current fun trend of killing wasps in small nests attached to buildings by placing a container (perhaps a large plastic cup) one third full of gasoline under the nest. The fumes knock out and then kill the insects as they fall into the petrol inside the container. It all happens very quickly which leads these amateur pest controllers to declare that it is a super successful pest killer. But what about the downsides which they appear to be conveniently ignoring?


The dangers of using gasoline are obvious. I don’t need to spell them out. This is a highly inflammable liquid which is why the fumes come of it and kill the wasps. It also means that the air around the person is filled with gasoline fumes. A spark may set them off and seriously injure or kill the person and damage their home or even destroy it.

Do insects feel pain?

A little while ago I wrote about the possibility of flies feeling pain. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that insects may feel pain even though it won’t be the kind of pain that we feel. Insects respond to injury. It’s about survival just as it is for humans. Professor Lars Chittka and Matilda Gibbons of Queen Mary University of London said: “We surveyed more than 300 scientific studies and found evidence that at least some insects feel pain. Other insects, meanwhile, haven’t been studied in enough detail yet”.

This is a work in progress but you only have to go back to the 1980s to find out that many surgeons believed that babies could not feel pain and as a consequence they rarely used anaesthetics. At that time, the experts thought that the screaming and writhing of babies were just reflex actions! You can see how science is developing and it is entirely plausible to believe that in the long-term future we will understand that insects feel pain.

This would profoundly alter the application of animal welfare laws and might even result in the realisation that insects are sentient creatures. Let’s wait and see but we need to be aware of this possibility and not be quite so blindly ruthless in the killing of so-called ‘pests’.

Are wasps pests?

To most people, wasps are pests because they sting people. But they sting defensively. It’s about survival again. But wasps play a vital ecological role according to the University of Gloucester. They control real pests such as greenfly and many caterpillars and they protect crops and gardens. And further, they are now understood to be valuable pollinators, transferring pollen as they visit flowers to take the nectar. The BBC tells us that the world would be a much poorer place without wasps. They are voracious and ecologically important predators they say.

It is believed that they are the only pollinators of thousands of species of fig and several hundred species of endemic orchid.


TikTok users should be a little more open minded and enlightened about the role that wasps play in our ecosystems. How many times have you been stung by a wasp in your life? Once or twice perhaps. For that reason, people you shouldn’t be too eager to kill them. The better solution I feel is to let them live and play their role in our lives.

Pest controllers

If the idea of leaving them alone is abhorrent to you, then the advice is to get in a proper pest controller who can use the right materials which are safe. The contractor should be regulated by the authorities.

Local authorities

Depending upon where you live, it may be illegal to use the method illustrated on this page as it endangers the community.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.