Wasps are fascinating creatures due to how quickly and diligently they can build a nest. However, the most unfortunate consequence of wasp nests is that they often appear in buildings and gardens, far away from the wasps’ natural habitat. Quite likely, these wasp nests will be high up and inaccessible in loft cavities, cracks in chimneys, sheds and vents. Though it’s impressive to see wasps draw on their natural instincts to find a safe place to colonise and build structures that are warm and insulated, it can cause severe disruption or even danger if wasp infestation isn’t addressed quickly.
How To Identify a Wasp Nest
Wasps are expert architects when it comes to constructing their nests. By combining chewed wood pulp and saliva wasps can construct distinctive papery walls which provide ample protection from the elements. To maximize protection wasps typically build their nests in sheltered spots with easy access to the outside, such as wall cavities, roof spaces, under eaves, bird boxes, sheds, and garages.
As we reach the end of summer and the temperature begins to cool, wasp nests typically begin to die out. This is due to wasps not being able to survive in colder climates, as well as food shortages impacting their survival rates. Wasp seasons generally last three to four months during the peak of summer, resulting in wasp numbers declining at the end of their designated wasp season. The wasps that make it through these months don’t perish with their colony; instead, they look for a safe spot and go into hibernation so that they can appear again in full force come next wasp season.
What Do Wasps Eat?
Both solitary and social wasps feed on nectar from flowers or honeydew produced by aphids, obtaining the necessary sugars for their lifecycle. The wasp larvae also produce a sugary liquid that adult wasps consume to satisfy the nutritional requirements of their diet.
Breeding Habits of Wasps
At the start of spring, a queen wasp will lay eggs in chambers that hatch into larvae. These larvae grow and pupate before emerging as workers which care for new wasp larvae and queens.
A queen wasp can produce over 100 eggs per day! By the time summer nears its end, wasp nests are typically at their highest capacity, reaching upwards of 20,000 wasps in some cases. What is particularly fascinating is that within this large wasp population, the queen wasp can lay up to 1500 new queens.
How To Approach a Wasp Nest
- 1Protect individuals on the property who have allergies – if someone is allergic to wasp stings, dealing with a wasp nest around them can pose a serious risk to their health. If anyone is, we recommended that professional assistance be sought so that the proper safety measures can be taken.
- 2Use the appropriate PPE - a full-body beekeeper's suit with gloves should be worn at all times. Additionally, it is beneficial to invest in a telescopic lance - a long pole designed specifically for removing wasps or bees from hard-to-reach places - as this eliminates the risk of dangerous falls when accessing their hives. It is advisable that some form of training may be needed before using a telescopic lance if you are working at height.
- 3Be careful when using insecticide - it is important to make sure that you use an insecticide specially designed for wasp nests. The product should be strong enough to treat the entire nest. Failing to use an appropriate wasp-specific insecticide can result in wasps re-establishing their nest and having to repeat the treatment again. To ensure success, always read the instructions carefully and apply according to recommendations for the best results.
- 4Plan for an emergency - If you do get stung, seek medical attention immediately as wasp stings can cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, have an antivenin kit available for anyone who may be exposed, understand how to treat a wasp sting such as cold compresses and creams that contain hydrocortisone.
- 5Keep away – Stay away from the wasp nest from 4 hours to a few days (depending on the time of year and nest size). You don’t want to get stung!