Wasp & Hornet Nests
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Protecting you and your family from wasp stings
Being stung by a common wasp or hornet is a painful experience and can be life threatening to the one in thirty people who are allergic to stings and may suffer anaphylactic shock. However, it is possible to reduce these risks by taking sensible precautions when outdoors and ensuring that hornet or wasp nests are properly treated or removed. If you have been stung by a wasp or hornet, please refer to our guide to treating insect stings. This also has information about how to avoid being stung when outdoors.
Identifying Wasps & Hornets.
The bright yellow and black striping of wasps and hornets is a warning pattern that has been mimicked by many insects to take advantage of the deterrent effect of appearing wasp like. These harmless mimics include hover-flies, day moths (such as the Ash Borer) and beetles that visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar. The wasps most often encountered in the UK are the Common or Social Wasp and the German Wasp. As well as distinctive black and yellow stripes, wasps have two pairs of wings (the hind wings being smaller than the fore wings) and tend to be less hairy than bees. Their eyes are kidney shaped and their bodies are more pointed than bees, with a noticeable waist. Only female wasps have the long distinctive stinger, which they can use repeatedly unlike bees.
Occasionally, especially in early spring, bees get confused with wasps and cause unnecessary panic. To find out more about bee identification click here.
Wasp or Bee?
Knowing how to identify the difference between a wasp and a honey bee is necessary to enable the correct treatment to bed carried out as there are similarities.
On the left is a Honey Bee.
The middle one is a species of Bumble Bee and on the right is a Wasp.
Wasp Nest Removal
To locate the nest, watch the flight path of the returning insects. If the wasps nest is near the home, keep nearby doors and windows closed. If you suspect the nest is in the loft, take great care when entering the roof space as the wasps may see this as an aggressive threat to their nest. Do not attempt DIY wasp treatment if you suspect you are sensitive to wasp stings, if the nest is indoors or the nest is difficult to access. Never attempt to treat a hornet or wasp’s nest when on a ladder or from a raised height.
Wasp & Hornet Nests
Take great care when dealing with wasps and hornets (a larger member of the wasp family) as they have a potent sting and can attack in large numbers if disturbed or threatened. A wasp trapped indoors can be dealt with using a Wasp & Fly Killer spray. If however, you are experiencing high numbers of wasps in your home or garden it is likely that there is a wasp’s nest nearby. When queen wasps come out of hibernation they search for sheltered places with easy access to the outdoors to build their nests, often in domestic housing, making use of attics, wall cavities, roof spaces or under the eaves of buildings. A single nest may contain thousands of wasps which can swarm and attack if disturbed or provoked. If the location of a wasps nest is likely to put people at risk, then the nest should be destroyed.
Hornet and wasp nests are made from chewed wood pulp and saliva, giving them unmistakable papery walls. A queen wasp will start to build a nest in the spring, beginning with a nest about the size of a walnut but as the first batch of workers hatch to take over nest building the size of the nest increases rapidly. By summer a mature wasp nest can contain between 4,000 – 6,000 individual wasps and typically can be 30 cm in width, although they can be much bigger depending on their location and availability of food. Nests within wall or roof cavities may be restricted by the available space. Other sites for a wasps nest can include lofts, garden sheds, garages and out-buildings. The risk from wasps is particularly high towards the end of summer – it is preferable to destroy a wasp’s nest earlier in the year before wasps become more aggressive.