How To Deal With Wasps In The Home
Wasps are seasonal pests, becoming a nuisance from mid-summer onwards. The 2 most common species of wasp are the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and the German wasp (Vespula germanica). They differ slightly in size and colour pattern but their behaviour is, for the most part, identical. Lets face it, if you have a nest containing hundreds or thousands (3000 – 10,000 in a large one!) of these stinging psychos above your bedroom window, you’re not going to be bothered whether they are Teutonic or just plain common.
If you discover a wasp nest in your home, in the summer or autumn time, when it is fully developed and containing thousands of wasps -
CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS!
For 2 reasons;
1. You are unlikely to possess suitable protective clothing (beekeepers hat, etc) and run the risk of being stung. You may be allergic to wasp venom and risk anaphylactic shock. This is very serious with numerous fatal cases each year.
2. Providing the nest is accessible, wasps are easy to kill for the professional operator and they should be able to perform the job in a matter of minutes. Search your local classified ads and choose the cheapest advertised service. Just make sure the price includes a guaranteed treatment. Here in the UK, we have locally advertised guys doing the work for £20 (about US$ 30). Is it worth risking multiple stings just to save $ 30?
A Little Behavioural Background
Now pay attention to this next bit of information because you’ll see where, or rather when, you can save money when dealing with wasps.
Adult wasps feed on nectar and fruit. Wasp larva feed on insects, gathered for them by adult worker wasps. Wasps do not store food, therefore, when autumn arrives and their natural food sources disappear, the whole wasp colony dies out. The only survivors are the young queens that have left the nest in the preceding weeks. These young queens mate with drones (sort of fast living Gigolos) which then die (the drones that is). The young queens then find a sheltered location and hibernate through the winter. The old nest is NOT re-used the following year.
The following spring sees these queens starting a new nest all by themselves. The queen finds a suitable location and builds the new nest by chewing wood or plant fibres and mixing them with saliva to form a sort of paper mixture. She moulds this paper into a ball shape (about the size of a ping-pong ball), containing a few egg chambers. Once completed, she lays 1 egg into each chamber and after the eggs have hatched into larvae, spends the rest of her time gathering caterpillars and bugs to feed to the larvae. After the larvae mature into worker wasps, the queen then retires to the nest and spends the rest of her life laying eggs. The worker wasps then resume the roles of expanding the nest, building more egg chambers and foraging for insects. The size and shape of the nest is usually determined by the amount of available space around the nest site.
OK, so where can you save money?
Typical nest locations around the house are; sheds, garages and other outbuildings, lofts, attics, cavities behind air bricks, chimneys and eaves. So take a tour around these locations in your home in the springtime and if you see the beginnings of a new nest, wait until you see the queen enter the nest and then just place an opened bag around it and pinch the top. The nest should fall into the bag. Seal the bag and dispose of it. Probably best to squish it first to kill the queen.
When I was a Pest Control Operator (PCO), we always got calls to remove wasp nests from lofts and attics in the lead up to the Christmas period. Why? Because most people store their Christmas decorations in these places and it’s one of only a few times when they venture up into the loft. Lo and behold, there in front of them is a huge wasp nest and panic sets in. Only the arrival of the PCO (together with an emergency call out charge) will satisfy them that it is now safe for them to retrieve their Christmas tree. Well, if you were paying attention like I told you to, you now know that the nest will have died out long before winter arrived (the only exception to this is Australia and New Zealand where wasp colonies have been known to survive the relatively mild winters in those countries)and it will not be re-used again. So either leave the nest where it is and admire the architecture or just fetch a bin liner and scoop it up yourself. ….. Go on, I dare you!
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