Ouch! So, you’ve got wasps – and the mere thought of those pesky flying insects is painful in more ways than one. If they’re in your home, how will they ultimately affect your bank balance? And is there a quick and easy way to get rid of them – safely and effectively?
In this handy guide, we’ll lift the lid (although not too quickly – they’re bound to escape!) on all things wasps, to ensure you’re prepared for everything an infestation has to throw at you.
So, we’ll start by talking about wasp nests and, more importantly, what they look like. It’s vital you know what to keep your eyes peeled for, should you suspect your home might be at risk.
Making their nests from chewed wood pulp and saliva (giving the nest distinctive, papery walls), wasps usually make themselves at home in sheltered spots. Great for you. Not.
It’s important for wasps that these areas of shelter have easy access to the outdoor, too – they’re fussy little critters. What that means for you is wasps nests might crop up in wall cavities, roof spaces, under eaves, garages or even in bird boxes.
When you think about it, the humble wasp nest really is a fascinating piece of engineering though. Wasps work hard to strip wood from fence panels and garden sheds in order to go about making their home in the first place, so it really is a considered approach to comfortable digs.
The queen wasp? Well, she’ll build a nest from scratch in the spring, before emerging from winter hibernation later on. Growing at varying rates depending on a variety of factors, wasp nests can appear in early summer as a result of readily available food. If there’s a shortage of food outside, there tends to be fewer nests. Who knew?!
So, by now we know what to look out for when it comes to identifying a wasps’ nest. But can you identify a wasp at first glance? Is it a bee, is it a plane? The fact is, most of us know a wasp when we see one. But just in case, we’re bringing you some quick aesthetic pointers:
Colour – Look for the distinctive black and yellow, or sometimes brownish/red combination of shades.
Body – Wasps can be identified via a number of features, the main one being that its two long rear legs will hang and dangle straight down mid-flight. A bee’s legs, meanwhile, will disappear when in flight, or be difficult to spot.
Size – Measuring on average 0.5 inches (1.3cm) in length, yellow jacket wasps are easy to spot. Hornets, however, can measure up to 0.7 inches, or 1.8cm in length.
We know what wasps’ nests look like and we’re also now able to distinguish a wasp from similar species like bees. But where do wasps actually come from? And why, like gangs of unruly teenagers, do they tend to all hang out in the same place – and at the same time? Well, we’ll tell you…
Starting in spring, the wasp’s year kicks off when the days warm up. Spending the winter months in a deep, restful sleep, wasps don’t tend to pose a threat to you or your home during the back end of the year. But in the spring, when the queen wasps come out from hibernation, is when a problem presents itself.
While it’s believed that cold winters will kill hibernating queen wasps, this is unfortunately not the case. Most queen wasps who are hibernating at this time of year will die off during the winter, but this tends to be down to predation by spiders and other insect. Queen wasps should be more worried during warmer months, when they’ll emerge from hibernation too soon and starve as a result, due to lack of available food.
Wait ‘til spring though and your house or garden could be swarming with wasps – and that presents itself as an issue in quite a few ways. Of course, no one wants wasps in their house anyway. But when children are added into the mix, the threat becomes greater due to the chance of becoming stung.
Which leads us onto the next (extremely vital) section of this guide…
While common, insect bites can sometimes be prevented. And if you’re wondering whether wasps are known for their sting as a result of a bite, here’s the answer: definitely.
That said, a wasp bite will usually only cause minor irritation. It’s also worth knowing that most insects sting simply as a defence tactic, by injecting venom into the skin. It’s why it’s important that when in the presence of a wasp (or indeed most insects that bite) that you don’t wave your arms around.
When an insect bites, it releases saliva that can cause the skin around it to become swollen, red and even itchy. A red mark (known as a weal) forms on the skin but generally this is harmless, though a little painful.
You might find that the affected area remains painful and itchy for a few days, with the severity of the bite depending on your own sensitivity to pain in general.
If you’ve identified a wasps’ nest in your home or garden, you’ll no doubt want to act fast. The good news is there are plenty of ways you can eradicate – and help prevent – wasps’ nests.
It’s the very reason we’ve put this guide together, really, to help you get rid of the one thing that’s been driving you mad in your home. Other than the fact you don’t always get your way when it comes to the TV remote.
So, how do you get rid of wasps’ nests?
It might not be a pleasant task, but to get to work on the problem as quickly as possible, it’s important someone (a professional) removes individual wasps with insecticidal spray or old-fashioned wasp traps. Such traps can be put together with a sweet bait and water, but not advisable to do on your own.
When it comes to removing the actual nest itself, it really is worth calling out the professionals. Attempting to remove a wasp nest yourself might only end in tears – literally. A threatened colony of wasps may become aggressive and unite if they believe their home is at risk. What will happen now is they’ll sting – and with toe-curlingly painful results!
Professionals like speedy pest control will treat a nest with insecticide, as mentioned above, which will stop eggs from hatching and halt the development of the younger wasps.
Be aware that some nests may be in inaccessible places, which is all the more reason to hire professionals, who’ll use special equipment in order to reach them and make a start removing them.
Traps will be just one of the professional pest control devices used, but a skilled team might also modify the light source and use insecticides. Of course, what this means to you is it’s not something to be entered into by someone who isn’t quite sure what they’re doing.
Like any other domestic pest, wasps need to be removed quickly and efficiently to ensure they don’t pose a further threat.
For assistance removing a wasp, pick up the phone to a pest control company as it really will make a difference to spend the little money it costs to rid yourself of wasps – and the worry that comes with having them.
We’ve touched on the fact that, yes, wasps do and will sting – especially if they deem you a threat. So, what happens if you’ve been unlucky? How do you treat the affected area and what should you do going forwards?
The fact is, there’s a whole host of things you can do to not only ease the pain associated with a wasp sting, but to prevent a worsening of symptoms too. We’ll start by looking at why exactly wasps sting, something we’ve briefly talked about earlier in this piece.
We’re right when we say it’s a defence mechanism when a wasp stings. Just like a dog might growl when you take away his beloved toy, or a baby might cry when you remove a spoonful of pudding from their mouth, wasps are simply defending themselves from the unknown. Want to know more? Read on?
Did you know, for instance, that when a wasp stings a human approaching a nest, it emits a chemical at the same time? This chemical sends a signal to the rest of the colony to attack – so you really are in for it if you choose to rile a poor wasp.
Did you also know that only female wasps (and bees, for that matter!) can sting? Male wasps don’t have the egg-laying ovipositor that is modified into a stinger on the female insect.
According to The Guardian, wasps don’t sting because they’re angry. Instead, they decide to inflict pain because they’re ‘disoriented’.
In a light-hearted piece where a reader asks if they’re purposefully attacking the human race, the website of the UK newspaper suggests that apart from those who step on a wasps’ nest, most people are stung later on in summer. Why? The normal social structure of the wasp colony is breaking down at this time, with the annual cycle changing from raising worker wasps to raising fertile queens. These queens will hibernate during the winter to lead the way for new colonies the following spring.
Furthermore, as stated in the piece, when the queen cells are laid, the hormone that maintains colony cohesion is no longer produced. What happens next is the worker wasps find themselves disorientated and go searching for sweet foods like jam or soft, carbonated drinks. This, of course, puts them directly into people’s way – so keep your arms down and cover sticky, sweet foods. You owe it to your skin – and your sanity.
If you’ve been studiously taking in the facts, you’ll now know all there is to know about the reasons wasps choose to sting. But knowing it won’t stop you succumbing to the odd bite. So, what do you do when a wasp strikes?
You can first turn to the natural remedies you may or may not have lying around the house. The fact is, there are all sorts of ‘ingredients’ you can use to concoct a blend that will rid you of that bite. Here’s just a few:
Ice – Ah, remember the old faithful bag of frozen peas? It’s a tried and trusted method for muscular pain and bites and stings, as is a simple ice cube. Simply place an ice pack or ice cube on the affected area for around 20 minutes. You’ll find this will reduce the pain and may even decrease any swelling. Do remember to protect the skin first by covering the ice with a paper towel or thin tea towel first.
Salt or Baking Soda – Mix salt or baking soda with water, until you have a thick paste. Then simply apply to the skin with the back of a spoon or a plastic spatula.
Apple Cider Vinegar – A failsafe of health buffs, apple cider vinegar has a host of uses. For bites and stings, simply soak a small cotton pad with the liquid or drizzle a few drops onto the skin. This works as the acid content of the vinegar helps neutralise the venom from the wasp bite.
Lemon/Lemon Juice – Got a lemon in the fridge? Cut a fresh slice of it and hold it over the skin. Doing so works in the same way as apple cider vinegar, and this method also works with lemon juice. Start by drizzling a few drops directly onto the skin, if you can stand the slight tingle.
Garlic – Hate the smell of garlic? Wasp bites don’t! If you can stand the stench, smother the skin with crushed garlic before covering with a plaster.
Olive Oil – Everyone has a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen, so this little trick will come in very handy if you’ve been bitten. Grab a bottle and simply rub the oil onto the skin to help with healing.
Meanwhile, in your garden you’ll find a few other natural remedies we think are definitely worth a go. Here are just three:
Marigolds – Who knew the humble marigold holds skin healing powers? Simply rub the flower head over the area and wait for the swelling to go down. Make sure you use a freshly-picked marigold as only the fresh ones will do!
Aloe Vera – Simply split open an aloe vera leaf, before slathering its gel directly onto the area. Not sure where to start? Try this handy guide, which also offers a host of other great uses for the plant.
Basil – When you roughly crush a fresh basil leaf or two you’ll find its natural oils are released – this is the good stuff! Now just press the leaf directly onto the area and hold it in place.
What about over-the-counter remedies? Of course, as with all remedies – natural and otherwise – it’s important you proceed with caution. If you go for an over-the-counter option, make sure you take the advice of the pharmacist and stop the treatment if further irritation persists.
Some options to look into include:
Oral or Topical Antihistamines – Medicines like Benadryl or Claritin (topical or oral) may be prescribed – or can be bought over the counter – to reduce swelling and itching.
Calamine Lotion – Not to be confused with ‘camomile’ (which is a tea!), calamine lotion can be applied to help soothe the skin and relieve itching. It usually comes in a glass bottle and can be prescribed by a doctor, or bought over-the-counter at a chemist.
Epsom Salts – These can be bought either from the chemist or other shops which sell basic toiletries – and they’re perfect for adding to a bath to ease muscular aches and pains. For bites and stings, a paste can be made with the salts and water, which will provide quick relief if needed.
By now, you know how to deal with a wasp sting should you be unlucky enough to be attacked (ouch – they always get you when you least expect it!).
But are there ways you can prevent the flying insect from bothering you in the first place? After all, isn’t that the age-old conundrum? How do you go on that summer picnic and not let a wasp or two spoil your fun? More than that, if you’re preparing to tackle a wasps’ nest with professionals in your home, you really don’t want it to end in tears.
So, here’s what to do:
Choose Your Outfit Carefully – It’s true what they say, wasps are attracted to bright clothing. Instead, where light-coloured clothing and refrain from putting on bright colours or printed tops that might attract wasps. One colour you can wear with no problem, though, is red; insects can’t see this shade, but they are attracted to white and yellow.
Avoid Perfumes Soap and Other Toiletries – It’s worth avoiding everything from fragranced shampoo to body lotions and perfume itself. After all, if you smell like a flower it’s likely that a wasp or bee might think you’re one – don’t be caught out! On top of this, make sure your body and clothes are clean. Interestingly, body odour aggravates bees and makes them more prone to sting! Scented candles in the home are also an aggravator, so only light them every so often and make sure you keep your windows closed!
Make sure your clothes and body are clean. The smell of sweat seems to aggravate bees and body odour can make them more likely to sting.
Consider the Time – Wasps are at their most aggressive during the warmest hours of the day. They’re also attracted to food, so make sure you keep everything covered.
Don’t Wave Your Arms – Tackling that wasps’ nest? It’s important not to wave your arms – or worse, run! Doing so will force a wasp to come right for you, so try to stay calm.
If you’ve made it to this point in the article, well done you – that’s some serious wasp knowledge right there! We can’t help thinking, though, that all we’ve done is bash and bemoan wasps when – surely – there must be at least one benefit to them? Let’s see, shall we…
While most people squirm when they see a wasp, there are – like most things – some plus points to them. And according to a handful of online articles, they can actually do a lot of good.
The term ‘wasp’ is used to describe thousands of species within the order Hymenoptera, which includes parasitic wasps like ichneumonids and bracanoids, hunting wasps, and spider wasps, and pollinators like fig wasps. As a group, such wasps provide pretty extraordinarily important ecological services. Pollination is just one, as is predation and parasitism.
What this means, put simply, is that without wasps we’d be literally overrun with insect pests. All a bit technical, but see – they do have a benefit.
When it comes to wasps, they are disliked for two main reasons: the harm they can cause to the body (in the case of stings) and the upset they can bring to the home (in terms of cost). Thankfully, there are more than a few ways you can prevent wasps entering your home. Read on for three key tips…
Check for Nests – Check your home and garden as early as the onset of spring; any nests can be dealt with as soon as possible and before they become a problem.
Secure Bins – Outside bins must have tightly-fitting lids; make sure you secure them properly and keep them at a safe distance from doors and windows to ensure wasps aren’t attracted by sweet or sticky food waste.
Keep Windows and Doors Shut – This is absolutely vital to ensure wasps don’t enter your home!
Want to know more? Simply get in touch with Speedy Pest Control and we can leap to the rescue (wearing all the appropriate gear, of course!) and take care of that wasps’ nest!