Wasps

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Wasps have black and yellow bands and have a narrow waist in the middle of the body. They vary in size from about 15mm to 20mm long.

There are several types of wasp, but the most common are the Common Wasp and German Wasp. Some common non-stinging insects are sometimes mistaken for wasps and these include Hover Flies and the Giant Wood Wasp.

Cost of Treatment

We do not provide a wasp treatment service. However, we have an arrangement with our contractor, Monitor Pest Control Ltd, to provide a service to households at a competitive rates.

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Lifestyle

The Queen Wasp emerges from the nest in the autumn and after mating, selects a suitable site for hibernation. The following spring hibernation comes to an end and the surviving queens will then select a nest site. This is usually located either in the ground or in the cavities in trees, walls or buildings (which is frequently in the roof space of a house). The nest is made up from wood pulp which is moulded into the outer shell of the nest and contains many internal chambers.

The queen will lay an egg in each of the chambers and these hatch into larvae which are fed by the queen on dead insects. When fully grown, the larvae pupate and from the pupae the worker emerge. These help rear new larvae and the new queens. Towards the end of the summer the queen lays a number of eggs which produce male wasps and these mate with the new queens. As the weather gets colder, all the wasps die except the new queens which fly away to find hibernation sites. If the nest is in a warm place, such as next to a central heating pipe, the nest may remain active well into the start of the year.

When does wasp season start?

In March/April many people start reporting sightings of "large wasps" entering their homes, often from lofts and voids. They believe that a nest exists in their home. The sightings will, however, be of Queen wasps which have emerged from hibernation during periods of favourable weather and are starting to investigate potential nest sites.

Finding Queen wasps indoors in springtime does not mean that a nest exists or that a nest will be built. At this stage there is no nest and a visit or treatment is unnecessary. The vast majority of Queen wasps active at this time die before they have established a nest. If there is no Queen - there is no nest. Where several wasps are reported, it is either coincidental, or otherwise they are bees.

Genuine wasp nests are rarely established before mid June when a few smaller nests may be identified. At this time there may still only be the Queen active in the nest or at most a dozen or so workers. Consequently the size of the nest is small (it may be the size of a golf ball or at most an orange), and the frequency of wasps coming and going is low. It will typically be spotted in a shed or attic.

Until the end of June customers would be wasting their money paying for unnecessary treatment. Customers are therefore advised to wait until after mid-June and if they notice activity after this time to then consider treatment.

Prevention & control

It is extremely difficult to prevent wasps starting a nest in your house if they want to be there, as they can gain access through very small gaps. You can help to prevent attracting wasps in the summer by keeping fruit and sweet foods and drinks in the fridge or sealed containers. Wasps do not reinhabit a nest once it has been abandoned in the autumn / winter but can build a new nest in the same area the next year.

Treatment

If a wasp nest poses a particular danger to you or your family, then it may be necessary to treat it. Unless such a danger exists, the nests are best left undisturbed.

Where necessary, you can treat wasp nests yourself, although care should obviously be taken in doing so. This can be done through the application of insecticidal dust at the entrance to the nest, preferably after dusk when the wasps have returned to the nest and are less active. The wasps will carry the insecticide into the nest, spreading it to other wasps in the colony. You should be able to buy the dust from most DIY/hardware stores or garden centres. You should make sure that the product you buy is specifically intended for wasps and ensure you always follow the directions on the product label.

Alternatively you may wish to have the nest treated by a professional pest control company.