Is Wasp Spray Good for Self-Defense?

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Written by Bernie Carr

I’ve come across several articles that recommends using wasp spray for self-defense, not just as a improvised weapon when you have nothing else, but actually going out and buying a bottle of wasp spray and keeping it for self defense. Proponents point out that wasp spray is readily available, inexpensive, has a range of 20 feet and can be used to temporarily blind an attacker.

We need to talk about this.

What exactly is in wasp spray?

Wasp spray is an insecticide that contains pyrethrins or pyrethroids, chemicals taken from chrysanthemum plant species. Pyrethrins act as neurotoxins. When used on wasps or bees, wasp spray will incapacitate the insect’s nervous system. When I’ve sprayed wasp spray on wasps, they curl up and fall to the ground. Sure it works, because the small amount of spray is enough to cover the insects’ bodies.

But it is unknown what wasp spray will do to a human. Would they drop to the ground or continue to attack? This is not something you’d want to risk. The point is to incapacitate your attacker to give you time to get away. But if the wasp spray does not stop them on their tracks, they’ll just get angrier and will continue to go after you.

The legal aspect

I should also point out that if you read the label on a canister of wasp spray, it states that it is a violation of federal law to use the item in a manner other than specified. This means that if you spray someone with it, it can be interpreted that you were trying to poison them intentionally. It is also unknown what long term health consequences wasp spray can cause. Even though you may have been the intended victim, the criminal can turn around and sue you. You will be exposed to civil or criminal liability.

That’s risking a lot for a supposed weapon that may not even work.

Will wasp spray stop an attacker?

Studies have not really been done to see if wasp spray can deter someone from attacking. Sure it can kill wasps, but a human being is much larger than a tiny insect. Okay, it may sting the eyes for a bit, and possibly cause long term damage, but I would not bet my safety on it. In this article by Grant Cunningham, he describes accidentally spraying himself with wasp spray and he was not incapacitated.

I was in no way incapacitated and had no problem walking into the house, cleaning myself off, and checking the manufacturer’s website for first aid procedures. I did notice some tingling and my vision was a little blurry in one eye for a bit, but that was about the extent of it.


What should you use instead of wasp spray?

Pepper spray would be a non-lethal weapon to consider instead of wasp spray. It is an actual self-defense tool, and is known to temporarily cause the eyes to swell shut.

Of course there are other non-lethal choices such as the Taser but if we are just looking at spray type weapons, I’d go with pepper spray. When choosing self-defense weapons, always check the laws in your state as well as potential liability issues.

In conclusion

About the only time you would reach of it is if you find yourself with nothing else, but that would be the same as reaching for a rock, frying pan or whatever is around you.

To answer the title question, “Is wasp spray good for self-defense?” the answer would have to be no. You could be subject to federal prosecution for using insecticide “in a manner other than specified.” Above all, it would not deliver a sufficient amount of stopping power for a human being. If you are already going through the trouble of being prepared, why not just purchase a proper self-defense weapon such as Mace or pepper spray? Keep the wasp spray for pesky flying insects, but don’t rely on it for self-defense.

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About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

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  1. It is just my humble opinion, but I believe that you would have to search the land high and low in order to find a prosecutor who would waste his time and risk his professional reputation in order to prosecute Joe Citizen who used wasp spray in order to thwart a violent attack by a thug.

    Seriously? What 12 citizens, good and true, would convict in a criminal trial or award damages in a civil trial?

  2. I have a can of wasp spray in every room in my house. It is for me a first line of defense. I can be persecuted for shooting an intruder as well as using the spray. To survive and protect my family I will use every means I can.

  3. Great article! We have several options for self-defense – and there’s a tool for every job. If you MUST use a spray, pepper spray (which is VERY effective) is sold nearly everywhere, including gas stations, Wal•Mart, and even Office Dept.
    Firearms aren’t for everyone — I get that. But you should always carry SOMETHING and practice with it often 🙂

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