WASPS IN PROFILE

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DESCRIPTION

Wasps are one of three orders of insect known as Hymenoptera: Bees - Wasps - Ants. They are about 12-17mm long and black and yellow in colour.

BIOLOGY

Unlike bees, wasps do not make honey. Instead the adult wasps feed on the sweet substances like nectar in flowers and on fruit. At this time of year wasps are beneficial insects as they also kill a large number of other unwanted insects.

WASPS AT HOME

Wasps are not normally a problem during Spring and Summer as they are too busy collecting food for their young. Wasps will, however, defend the nest aggressively if disturbed or threatened. Wasps become a nuisance at home in the Autumn, as the queen stops laying eggs, and a large number of wasps find themselves with less and less work to do. At this stage they search for sweet food like, jam, sugar and soft fruit etc, it is now that they are most likely to sting and cause fear.

BREEDING

The queen starts the nest by chewing wood or bark to make a type of papier mache. At this stage the nest is the size of a golf ball, and the queen lays the first 10-20 eggs. The eggs hatch into the familiar black and yellow striped wasps. These wasps forage for food and begin to enlarge the nest. By late summer the nest may now contain up to 10,000 wasps and be the size of a football. Also in late summer a few fertile males and new queens are produced. These mate up and when the cold weather comes all but the pregnant queens are left alive. The queens will look for a safe haven and hibernate during the winter. In spring the cycle starts all over again.

SIGNS OF DAMAGE

Wasps are more of a nuisance rather than a destructive pest. A wasp nest will simply disintegrate once no longer in use.

TREATMENT

This should be left solely to the professional pest operator as it requires protective clothing and pesticides only available to a qualified professional.

PROCEDURE

Eradication starts with a thorough survey to check the size of the problem. Insecticide will then be sprayed in the nest to kill the wasps. Protective clothing must be worn as with the nest under threat, wasps will attack to try and protect the nest and queen.

RESULTS

Wasps will start to die almost immediately treatment has been completed. If left alone the nest will simply crumble to dust in time. For those who would prefer to remove the nest, make sure there are no wasps coming or going, wear gloves and put the nest in a plastic bag, and put it in the waste bin, don’t forget to wash your hands.

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