Wasps are small insects that look very similar to bees, making it difficult to differentiate them for an untrained person. But unlike bees that only attack when in danger, their stings are more painful and they are known to attack unprovoked. This doesn’t mean that they consider humans as prey. If a wasp feels threatened, it will emit certain pheromones that will alert the members of the colony, and then they will become more aggressive with any intruder.
Wasp stings are painful in the best case scenario, and fatal in the worst case scenario for people that are allergic. A person with an allergy that gets stung can have an anaphylactic shock that can be life-threatening. Unlike bees that can only sting you once and they die after, wasps do not die and can sting multiple times. So that’s why it is important to take action as soon as you notice any signs of wasps near your home.
Wasps are dangerous not just for humans, children or pets, but also to food stores and restaurants. Wasps will be attracted by various types of foods, and they can cause a bad experience for clients.
SIGNS OF WASPS
The first and most obvious sign is seeing a large number of these insects buzzing around the home or business; it means that there is a nest somewhere nearby. Their nests are amazing pieces of architecture and can contain up to 5,000 wasps during the summer. The nest is very lightweight, yet durable and also waterproof.
You can find such nests under trees, in bushes, in wall cavities, in sheds or garages. But this is not a rule, and people have found wasp nests in all sorts of unusual places such as toilet cisterns or brass instruments. Try to follow a wasp worker and locate the source of the nest.
In early spring the nest might be very small (the size of a golf ball). During this time, it only has the queen and a few workers. But if left untreated, until the end of the summer it can reach the size of a beach ball. The largest nest ever recorded measured 3.7 meters long.
WASP BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR
The wasps are a part of the Hymenoptera, which means “membranous wings”. They are usually coloured in black and yellow. The queen is larger than the regular wasps, and she hibernates during the winter. The workers usually die over the cold season, since the weather gets cold and there are no sources of food (fruits or flowers). The queens emerge in the spring and build new nests from scratch. Besides eating sweet foods and destroying people’s picnics, they also feed on other insects and are natural pest controllers.
Their mating process starts when a solitary queen builds her nest and rears the first workers. Then, they continue to do the building work, while the queen lays new eggs (200 to 300 per day). The population continues to grow until at one point new queen cells are built. In this phase, the queen makes queen larvae. Then, she may then get sick or die, and the colony falls apart. The workers may even start eating one another, and the new queens leave the nest in order to mate and hibernate. Then, in the spring, the new queens start building new nests, and the entire process starts all over again.
HOW TO PREVENT WASPS
Secure windows and doors with standard fly screens
Keep trash bins shut, as the wasps will be attracted by food leftovers
Check for nests in the spring, as they are much smaller and easier to deal with. Check the loft, garage, shed and under eaves