Types of wasps
There are 2 types of wasps that you are likely to come across: solitary wasps and social wasps. Solitary wasps, as their name suggests are loners but social wasps are the ones that cluster together at the height of summer, with their nest population reaching anything between 5,000 and 10,000 in number.
These wasps tend to build their nests in four main locations and normally, they don't cause too much of a problem to humans, rarely being noticed:
- In small nests they build themselves from mud or wood
- In holes left by other insects such as beetles
- Inside their prey such as a caterpillar; a solitary wasp paralyses their prey with their sting, killing it. The wasp then lays her eggs in the body and when hatched, the larvae feed off the body
- They also nest underground in tunnels they create themselves which, of course, can be a hazard if you are walking barefoot in your garden
Social wasps tend to be the nests that cause people most concern. They build nests from wood scrapings, cardboard and paper which they mix with their saliva to form cellulose. These nests can commonly be found under eaves of houses, in attics, walls, roof spaces, trees, hedges and underground. These are the nests that bother people most as the wasp population can reach staggering proportions.
The good news, however, is that wasps do not use the same nest year after year; the colony will abandon the nest once the spring and summer cycle is complete. Essentially, wasp nests are a short term problem; you could simply wait until they have vacated their nest in late summer/early autumn, knocking the empty nest down with a broom handle. This will also give you chance to admire the intricate pattern of the wasp nest.
However if you have a young family, or are allergic to wasp stings or the nest is built in a place where there is a lot of human activity, the nest can be a problem.
Getting rid of a wasp nest
The likelihood is you are looking to get rid of a social wasp nest which means there may be a several wasps around. However, if you are unsure then please contact a reputable pest control company. They are the experts and experienced at dealing with wasps nest. If you've had a reaction to wasp stings in the past it would pay to get a pest control company to do the job for you.
Before you start you need to take several precautions:
- Always wear protective clothing when dealing with a wasp nest; that is, long sleeves, long trousers, eye protection and something to cover you face as much as possible.
- If you are using some form of chemical make sure you read the instructions properly as some pesticides can be harmful to humans, pets and wildlife if use incorrectly.
- Use a good quality insecticide that is fit for the purpose; not using the right insecticide will mean you don't rid yourself of the nest and may you leave you facing several hundreds of angry wasps...
- Make sure you have the correct first aid for any wasp stings (which can be painful and severe in some cases)
- Wasps can sting a multiple of times (unlike a bee that can sting only once)
- Wasps will attack (i.e. sting) if something or someone goes too close to their – be prepared.
Here are a few tips on how to get rid of wasp nests:
- A wasp nest in a bush or shrub requires you to stand about 15 feet from the nest with a powder insecticide; initially, you need to observe their pattern of entry and exit to the nest. Using a good quality powder insecticide, make sure you give the nest a 'good dusting' especially around the exit path the wasps take.
- Wasp nests on the ground are easier to deal with; simply 'puff' the powder insecticide into the tunnel and leave. No special equipment is needed.
- Eaves are the most common place for wasp nests and they do cause a problem. It usually easier and better to treat the nest from inside the roof space. This is a bit tricky as, if possible keep the loft light off, using a torch to locate the nest. Providing the nest isn't too far down the eaves, you can use a powder insecticide but don't shine your torch directly at nest as wasps may fly towards it. If it's too tricky, rather than risk being stung several times, contact a pest control company.
- Air bricks are also common nesting favourites with wasps and are easy to destroy. The nest may be 6 feet inside the under house cavity and you can use a powdered insecticide although you may need to spray the area a few times for it to take full affect. The powder around the air brick entrance holes will mean that the wasps will carry the poison into the nest, hence the reason why you may need to repeat several times. Again, with this type of nest you won't need specialist equipment. The best time to spray the area is during the day, but many people prefer to spray at night as there are fewer wasps to contend with! Make sure you spray all the holes as the wasps will simply use the hole or holes that don't have the insecticide spray.
- Nests in roof voids or high up places are best left to the pest control expert as the difficulty in access means that specialist equipment is needed, including a full protective wasp suit.
Again, if you're unsure how to deal with a wasp nest then contact a pest control company rather than risk injury!