Why You don’t Want to Use Wasp Spray for Self-Defense


Learn the hidden dangers in using wasp spray for self defense

I don’t normally write on self-defense, but I have seen a number of internet posts in circulation that suggest using wasp spray for self-defense.  This is something I would be very careful of doing for several reasons.

wasp spray - using it for self defence?

I have seen all kinds of information on the internet that has been posted about the use of wasp spray for self-defense. The first time I saw it, I questioned its use for several reasons, since then I have done additional research on the subject and can find nothing that would convince me it works. Plus, in any self-defense situation, you must know the law as it applies to different scenarios. For that purpose, this book about the law and self-defense is a must have.

Wasp spray is an insecticide, and U.S. Federal Laws prohibit the use of any pesticide or insecticide “in a manner that is inconsistent with its labeling”.  You could face federal criminal charges.  Many states prohibit the use of substances for self-protection that are not specifically authorized for that purpose.  Now I know the first reaction of many people will be so what, if I am attacked I will use anything I need too, to defend myself.  But there are other problems with using it.

First of all, there has been no testing of it.  You don’t know that it will work or if it does, how fast the affects will set in.  Some people who have been accidentally sprayed with it have said that there is very little effect.

Wasp sprays consist of one or more insecticides such as pyrethrum or propoxur.  Although the toxic side effects of such chemicals can, include eye and lung irritation in humans, they are poisons for killing insects.  They may cause serious harm or injury to humans but it may not be an immediate effect.  Some of the emails have suggested setting a can by the front door.  If it ever came out in court, you pre-planned the use of wasp spray; you would probably end up in jail and lose everything you owned in the ensuing lawsuit.

One of the big reasons that the posts suggest wasp spray is the range, it can reach out to twenty feet.  The extra range is nice but if you buy the right size cans of pepper spray they will reach just as far. 

See also  Canes,Walking Sticks and Umbrellas for Self Defense.

7 Reasons Not to Use Wasp Spray for Self Defense

  1. There is no real proof that it works, all the information is just somebody’s story. No verifiable evidence.
  2. The active ingredients in most wasp sprays contain pyrethrin or pyrethroids. This is derived from the chrysanthemum plant and affects the nervous system. It’s affect on a humans would not be rapid.
  3. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database shows that it causes eye irritation that can be treated by flushing with water. Now there may be other sprays that have a more serious effect, but do you know which ones they are, if not you are playing Russian roulette.
  4. Federal law prohibits the use of any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. This makes it a felony to use it on someone and then it probably won’t work.
  5. This is a video showing a young man having both wasp spray and pepper spray, sprayed in his face. The wasp spray failed to immediately affect him. You will notice that the pepper spray put him down.
  6. A Seattle family would argue that the advice to use wasp spray is wrong. In December of 2013, Ken Boonstra broke into a home and the husband tried using wasp spray to fend off his attack on his wife. The spray did not stop the attack, but the wife’s use of a sharp steak knife was quite effective.
  7. The big reason that many people give for using wasp spray is that it has a longer-range then pepper spray. If this is a concern they get bear spray, which is pepper spray with more range. Here is the link to a video made by David Nance an expert on self-defense on the use of wasp spray vs. bear spray. Bear spray has more range and a wide dispersal area.

Personally, I am not going to trust my life to an unproven idea, that I have read on the internet.  I can find no verifiable instances in which it has worked, nor can I find any police department or other reputable authority that says it works. Don’t trust your life to it.

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48 thoughts on “Why You don’t Want to Use Wasp Spray for Self-Defense”

  1. Matt in Oklahoma

    Why not use this when there is stuff made for the task?
    First response I usually hear “well because its illegal here”.
    My response is then “why do you live there in a place that doesnt allow you to protect yourself instead giving criminals more rights and nannyisng everyone to death”?
    If you are serious then give up the liberaltard palm tree glamour shots and get with the program and quit pretending!

    1. This is the hands-down dumbest logic I’ve seen on the internet today, congrats! First, people make mistakes, perhaps they may think someone is going to attack and strike preemptively. With pepper spray, at least the long-term effects are nil in most cases. Who knows with insecticide? Also, seriously, WHY would you ever use this when there is stuff specially designed to do the job MUCH BETTER? Just to be a contrarian jack-off? Well, congrats again, you’ve done it!

      1. people dont just carry wasp spray down the street. you ever use raid? its big and bulky. not suitable for a purse or hand bag. they are talking about keeping it in the home for self defense by the front door or in the bedroom. If anyone enters your home illegally they should be lucky to only get wasp spray because in my home they will get 2 in the chest and one in the head.

  2. I’ve been I Law Enforcement for 17 years now and please believe me when I tell you pepper spray is not an effective self defense weapon/option. First of all, pepper spray is made out of…pepper. It does not affect most people who eat spicy food, or are on drugs or have mental issues etc! In most cases all it does is piss people off. My husband (who is also a LEO) and I had to be sprayed in order to carry it. My husband eats spicy food. Getting sprayed didn’t do anything to him. He just looked at the instructor and was like “is that it”? Me on the other hand had snott running down my face and my eyes swelled. However, even with that effect I was still able to fight off my instructor (part of training). There is a reason why mozt LEO’s no longer use pepper spray, because it’s not that effective.

    1. P.S. I apologize for the misspellings. I recommend taking self defense classes if possible. If someone breaks into your home are you really going to be able to grab wasp or pepper spray. Those things are better than nothing. We had a saying with HP…”Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

    2. Steph that is an incorrect statement. Pepper spray is not made of your common peppers including bell and jalapeno peppers. Peppers with a higher scoville heats unit are used to create the powerful effects that pepper spray induces. Choosing the best pepper spray made with higher quality peppers will have a stronger effect. Also, pepper spray is still widely used as a non-lethal option for law enforcement officers.

      1. To be totally accurate, they don’t even have to use peppers with high SHUs. If the pepper itself determined strength, most sprays would utilize Ghost and Carolina Reaper type peppers, but generally, cayenne peppers are used to manufacture OC sprays because they are easy to grow in large quantities, and start out with a decently high amount of the oil ‘oleoresin capsicum’ (OC, also where OC spray gets its name). The peppers are ground and the OC extracted, forming a concentrate with a much higher SHU than the original peppers.

    3. I applaud your comments on OC spray. With almost 30 years in law enforcement I have seen it work good and I have seen it do nothing at all like you say. I have seen wasp spray used twice as a paramedic and a police officer and both gave me great joy in my heart. One was used by a 95 lb. 5′ woman against a 6′ 4″ ex-boyfriend who “walked thru a restraining order” and she backed herself into a corner and sprayed him like a “cockroach” then poked his ass full of holes with an ice pick. Crude but yet effective. Doctors described the damage to his eyes as a complete melting of the cornea and the surrounding tissue meaning it would not support a cornea transplant to restore his vision. I watched a Facebook video where a male jumped the counter assaulted the clerk and while trying to open the cash register the clerk sprayed him good with OC or bear spray or as I commented “I hope it was wasp spray !” because of the damage I have seen it do. This touched off a flurry of “likes” and positive comments to I “was cruel an inhumane” to “it will not work” to “it’s against Federal Law”. Some of these self described “self Defense experts” say that it “takes to long to work and OC is better” to which I say “BS !” . I have tried to contact several of these SFBE’s (Shit for Brains Experts) to enlist one in the testing of wasp spray effectiveness over OC yet they all decline and I stand by my original comment ” OC works some of the time, wasp spray will work all of the time but use the whole can !” thank you for letting me vent to a fellow Officer who KNOWS citizens watch way to much TV !

      David Ellis

      1. If I am in a situation where I feel that I must use self defense, I am not going to waste a moment contemplating whether or not something is legal. I would rather be illegal but alive.

      2. I too was a Peace Officer for over 17 years and I can tell you that pepper spray has little if any effect on a lot of people.

        1. exactly. dont concern yourself of what some skeezy lawyer might try to do after the fact. preserve your life. any one that enters your home illegally is asking for trouble and a fire arm is the most definitive answer.

      3. Spectracide Wasp & Hornet Killer foam spray. All. Day. Long.

        Recommend use with a high lumen flashlight with a blinding strobe.

        * It’s available everywhere for less than $5.
        * 20′ range
        * Sticks to target
        * Likely to cause severe eye damage (yay!)
        * If you get it in your assailant’s nose or mouth = extra points
        * Inconspicuous & totally legal to have
        * Way more effective than OC
        * Easy to defend in court: “it was the closest thing I could get to”
        * Will kill wasps & hornets also

        * Size of can makes EDC use challenging unless in a backpack
        * I can’t think of anything else

        PS: once committed use the whole can until the attacker runs away or is down and you can lock yourself in safe place and call 911 and go get your gun.


    4. LOL, you are clueless. I guarantee your hubby isn’t going to just shrug off some Red Sabre Pepper Gel.

      I wasn’t sure if the rumours about the police only hiring people with low IQs was true. Now I do.

      1. No need to get personal.
        Do not disrespect a law enforcement officer to try to gain the upper hand in a debate.
        That is a disgusting thing to do and it makes YOU look like the one with a low IQ. You can’t think of an intelligent thing to say so you belittle others offering important information.
        If that’s the best you can do, keep your hands off the keyboard.
        As far as pepper spray, about 3% of population don’t respond to it, spicy food or not.

      2. You obviously have never seen a 6’4 280# guy cracked out on bath salts look you straight in the eye while you spray his eyes with FOX spray. Why is everyone so quick to judge or doubt law enforcement without ever having been in their shoes??

  3. When I was a field supervisor in public works in the DC area we often had to do trash collection and debris clearance in high crime areas in which pit bulls or other vicious dogds were common. We tried bear spray, pepper spray, CS and CN gas. The onlt thing which provided safe stand-off distance for collection crews was a pitchfork. We were not permitted to carry firearms.

  4. I disagree….if all you have is a can of RAID, then USE IT! One of the biggest things going for you if attacked is the element of surprise. The attacker isn’t likely going to expect you to spray them.

    I’m in the eye care profession and can tell you if an attacker is sprayed and not treated, he will likely have permanent damage to their vision.

    When the can is empty, hit them with it until they are dead.

      1. I was sprayed in the face n my skin was burned on my face n scalp and in my mouth which maid me puked n dry heave. Police did nothing and after the fact I read on can federal law to use for self defense. Boyfriend n I were delivering last child support check when we were attacked by her boyfriend n her with wasp n hornet spray.

  5. “Don’t bet your life and freedom on an internet rumor by using wasp spray.”
    Don’t bet your life and freedom on pepper spray, either. You’ll just make some guys more angry and violent. Learn to use a firearm and carry it everywhere you go.

  6. This is BS, I know for a fact wasp spray is more effective than the best, I repeat, THE BEST pepper spray. I was in the military and we had plenty of experience. Some people are resistant to even the best pepper spray you can buy, and I’ve personally seen what wasp spray does- trust me it’ll protect you better and more accurately. If you are in danger don’t leave your fate up to “resistance levels,” use wasp spray instead.

  7. I appreciate all the comments, both pro and con, about wasp spray as a self-defense measure. As a grandmother, does anyone really think I would give a holy crap what wasp spray will do to someone’s vision if they choose to attack me or my grandchildren?? IMHO, if someone attacks me, the blinder they are the better, at least the jerk will think twice about attacking someone else. Bottom line, my grandchildren and I will be alive and well.

    Plus, and this is something the ladies need to listen to. At one time I carried a small canister of pepper spray on my key chain and was showing it to a police woman when my grandchildren and I had interrupted an attempted assault . Two police offers responded, one being a woman who commented, “If you want to depend on pepper spray for self-defense you should consider a larger size can of police grade pepper spray.” She went on to explain, “That size pepper spray might work on some Caucasians but it will certainly not work as well on people of color. You need a larger size and you need police grade pepper spray.” I listened to her advice and now, legal or not, I plan on getting and carrying wasp spray.

  8. Actually, people of color tend to eat more peppers in their food than the average caucasian, and therefore could have more resistance to the active chemicals in peppers. I don’t see much racism here, just ignorance on the part of some commenters.

  9. Kevin S McCartney

    It’s interesting that people insist on interpreting a single story of wasp spray success as an indication that it will “always work”, but insist that pepper spray is is useless because it might not work on SOME people. Likewise, it’s interesting that so many people assume that any self defense incident without civil litigation. In the modern USA, if you thwart an assault, your would be assailants will call the police IMMEDIATELY to report their version of you attacking them. There WILL be a civil suit. If you used wasp spray, they will likely win. And, unless you can produce the wasp nest that you were on your way to kill, you will also be convicted criminally and your insurance won’t cover you.

    Any “less lethal” self defense will fail to be effective SOME of the time. So will lethal firearms! Have enough brains to protect your financial security in addition to your physical health!

    1. So, as a victim of possible assault and having my possessions stolen, the offender has more rights than I do as a victim of a break-in!? No wonder we have so many criminals wandering the streets. Guess I will have to make sure I kill them then with a different weapon, something that says this is for you and not wasps.

  10. Folks proficient with firearms spend a considerable amount of time on training and practice. They literally send thousands of rounds down a range and spend countless hours perfecting draw from any position, learning related laws and regulations, etc.
    Now please tell how much do you train with a spray? Reading the spray usage instruction is not an actual training. What makes you believe that under deadly stress you’ll be able to quickly enough present the spray, open and aim its nozzle accurately, and stop the horror?
    I just honestly don’t understand why anyone will chose a spray over a firearm. Please let me know

    1. Some places it’s not legal to own a firearm. We need to change that.
      If you are in an office bldg and your employer forbids carrying firearms and a shooter comes in, will you be grateful to have that wasp spray on hand?
      Might be handier than baseball bat.
      But I think you do have to practice and get proficient.
      If someone is kicking in your motel room door, a firearm would be nice. If it isn’t legal and u use it, u may be tried for murder.
      I think overall, a firearm is better. But a spray is a good second option. And as soon as you use it, u best pick up a secondary weapon and lay into him with all u have.

  11. Wasp spray poison is one of the most insidiously toxic substances on the planet. If you actually understood what kind of IRREVERSIBLE damage you are doing to people by spraying them with it, you would realize that they never should’ve been legal to even begin with. Absolutely MINUSCULE quantities of wasp spray can act as extremely powerful free radical generators, permanently damaging DNA as well as the brain of the patient. And if that’s not enough, you’re practically giving them cancer. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. If someone sprayed you with wasp spray, you should seriously consider suicide. There is pretty much nothing your doctor can do for you, and the chemicals do not wash off or biodegrade. It would be like spraying someone with PCBs to try and avert a robbery attempt. No living creature should be subjected to that, and the chemicals leave a permanent scar on the ecosystem. Only someone living in extreme ignorance could be so naive to justify committing crimes against both humanity and nature.

    1. J.L. Rosenthal

      YOU are about the stupidest, most contemptible wimp I have ever encountered. Apparently an innocent victim should be robbed, raped, stabbed, shot, beaten to a blood pulp, or even killed, by a stinking criminal hoodlum and the victim should not use this and any other means of preserving his/her life, health, property. I find it hard to believe you are real but I can understand why you decline appending your name to your revolting comment.

    2. innocent victim

      In this day and age, the criminals have all the rights. Too bad if they are injured in the commitment of a crime.

    3. Yes. A permanent scar on the ecosystem. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind when a hulking would -be rapist comes towards me.

      As one who has been threatened with a knife to my throat, I just can’t make any promises to the ecosystem next time my life is threatened.

      But hey, your lucky wife and daughter will surely thank you for your concern for looking out for them.

    4. So guess these criminals should chose a different career path. If I am afraid for my life the offender can die by knife, gun or live the rest of his life disabled by wasp spray. It is really their choice when they make bad decisions. Apparently you haven’t seen the results of those who have been attacked. If someone has the mindset to hurt maime, kill someone for possessions, their fate has been left in the hands of someone defending their life and property and no matter what their life and health turn out to be from being sprayed that was their choice.

    5. This is simply not true, at all. Most wasp and other flying insect poisons are derived from pyrethrins (a natural substance produced by pyrethrum flowers) or pyrethroids (a synthetic version with similar characteristics). Both of these kill insects by disrupting nerve signals causing paralysis and death. They do not “produce free radicals” nor are they particularly damaging to DNA, and a one time exposure, even to a large amount, will probably not cause cancer.

      Both of these substances are indeed very harmful to many small invertebrate organisms and aquatic organisms, but in the concentrations in household use are not considered particularly harmful to humans. Other than the potential for eye damage and possibly damage to other mucous membranes, the biggest danger to humans is the short-term possibility of seizures and altered behavior. Pyrethroids do not bind to the sodium channel in mammals effectively (which is the mechanism by which they kill invertebrates), and the human liver has been shown to be efficient in processing and removing them from our blood. One exception as far as mammals go is cats, who are EXTRAORDINARILY sensitive to these substances. [Don’t spray wasp spray around your cats, folks]

      Finally, the idea that they do not biodegrade is also false…pyrethroids are very harmful in water systems because they are not removed by normal wastewater treatment methods, and can poison aquatic life where the treatment plants discharge the treated water, this is why cans always say not to use around water sources or where the runoff could get into water. That being said, they are degraded rapidly by UV radiation (ie, sunlight) and typically fully degrade within days if exposed to light.

  12. After reading this I had to reconsider not having wasp spray for my defense. If someone is robbing me at gunpoint, trying to rape a female that I care for, coming at me with a knife or attempting to cripple me for the rest of my life with a baseball bat, I want them to suffer. I hope the wasp spray gives them ass cancer. I hope they die a slow painful death. Thanks for the info. I am on my way out to stock up now.

  13. Wait. So you have every right to shoot an intruder, with a gun, in your home and kill him but you can’t use a pestisde to stop an intruder? This makes zero seance. Has there been any indictments for using it? If so, what situations did they happen? When it comes to life or death situations, the person being attacked has every right to protect themselves. This means to stop the assailant. What injuries they obtain from that situation is on them and not on the victum.

  14. Personally I carry and have for many years. My husband has suggested to many of our elderly neighbor ladies to keep wasp spray At their front door and he has even purchased it for some of them. I am in a rant now on a neighborhood page where a man is basically telling me how stupid it is to use wasp spray. He thinks it is an urban myth. I beg to differ. Well at least I sleep better at night knowing my elderly neighbors are armed with something.

    1. someone telling you, “you cant defend yourself or your family because you can be sued” is not someone to be taken seriously. defend yourself with any means necessary. This article is a joke written by someone that believes you should just crawl in to the fetal position and hope you dont get raped or murdered. Toxic opinions like this is why criminals feel as emboldened as ever to take what isnt theirs and kill if they want.

  15. “dont use wasp spray cus you might get sued” is the worst opinion i have ever heard. I use a 9mm HK p2000 to protect my home and family and am happy to put a bullet in any piece of trash that enters my home illegally.

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