Wasps – The Facts
What do wasps look like?
A wasp has a yellow and black striped torso that measures approximately 1.6mm long.
How quickly do wasps multiply?
Young queen wasps will be the only members of their colonies to survive the winter. After hibernating, they build a nest and lay up to 20 eggs that they rear themselves. In two weeks, adult worker wasps emerge and continue to add cells to the nest. The queen then dedicates herself to egg-laying while the workers tend to the larvae.
During the course of a summer the queen will lay up to 100 eggs a day and a nest can house up to 10,000 wasps.
Where do wasps live?
Wasps live in nests made up of hexagonal cells. They strip wood with their mouth parts and add saliva, creating a soft pliable material much like paper-mâché. The nest starts out the size of a golf ball, but during a long summer it can grow exponentially, especially if it is near lots of food. Wasps’ nests have been found that measure up to 2 metres in length! Wasps will build their nests anywhere cool, dark and near food. As they feed their larvae with meat, (dead insects as well as bits from our own tables) they often search for a site near humans. Sheds, roof cavities and basements are prime locations for nesting.
What are the signs of a wasp infestation?
- Unlike bees, wasps are solitary and don’t swarm, so if you’re seeing unusual amounts of wasps, this means you have an infestation or nest nearby.
- Wasps build their nests from strips of wood creating thin white lines along any wooden item in your home or garden.
- At the end of the summer, frenzied workers on the hunt for a sugar fix will attack sweet treats with a vengeance.
- If you are noticing an increase in wasp activity near your home or place of work, keep an eye out for where they go. A worker wasp’s day is taken up by building the nest and feeding larvae, this requires a lot of coming and going from the nest.
Does wasp infestation need controlling?
A wasp infestation is a frightening prospect, simply because they are a danger to humans.
- A wasp sting is extremely painful and can cause anaphylactic shock to some people. A wasp sting needs medical attention if it occurs near the neck, throat or on the face.
- Wasps can sting more than once.
- Do not swat at wasps as they emit a pheromone signifying to other wasps that they are in danger. Worker wasps will then mobilise and become aggressive.
- Wasp colonies grow rapidly. Destroying a nest, especially during the day, may not solve the infestation as many of the wasps will not be in the nest.
- As the colony dies out in the autumn, the worker wasps become desperate for sugar to stay alive and will head for our kitchens and food stores to satisfy their thirst. They are particularly dangerous at this time.