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WASPS

Identification & Biology of Wasps:

  • Their bodies bear the characteristic black & yellow bands
  • The worker is 10-15mm in length
  • The queen is approximately 20mm in length
  • They have 2 pairs of wings that lock together

 

It is only the females that have the capability to sting, which is near the tip of the abdomen. In the winter the larger queen wasp hibernates & then makes a wasp nest in which to lay her eggs in the spring. The nests are made from wood pulp with is moulded into the outer shell of the nest containing multiple internal chambers, where the eggs are laid. The queen feeds the larvae until the first brood of workers hatch. These workers (sterile females) will then take on the role of looking after future larvae, gathering food & nest building whilst the queen continues to lay more eggs. A single nest can produce as many as 30,000 wasps a year. Reproductive males & the new queens are the last to hatch & depart the nest to mate. As the weather worsens in late autumn, all wasps die with the exception of the new queens, which repeat the cycle, going into hibernation.

Where wasps live & how they affect you:

Wasps will nest underground or in cavities of trees, walls, loft spaces & other parts of buildings. Wasps are commonly disliked because of their multiple stings. The wasp will generally sting when aroused or frightened. Wasps can create an uncomfortable working environment & can also be a serious risk to health, if someone is allergic to wasp stings they can go into anaphylactic shock. If there is shortness of breath, ring 999 straight away. Although itchy & at times painful, stings are not often dangerous & need treating with a local anaesthetic cream from your pharmacy. The redness & swelling experienced is usually due to allergy than infection & a cold compress should aid this. Wasps can become tired & aggressive in cooler weather with anyone interfering with them. Avoid swatting or squashing a wasp attacking you as this releases a chemical which signals for other wasps to attack too. Wasps are attracted to sweet smelling food & drink & can cause a lot of damage to ripened fruit. However wasps can be also regarded as useful insects, as during spring months workers collect insect larvae which help to control garden insect pests.

Control measures for wasps:

The quickest & most effective method of eradicating wasps is to attack the nest. Insecticidal dust applied to the nest & around the entrance is the most effectual method of wasp nest removal. Wasps will carry the poison inside, which will eventually kill the entire nest. It is not advised for you to approach the nest yourself as this can be potentially dangerous.