The common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) is mostly beneficial, destroying many insect pests to feed the growth of the nest. In autumn, however, after the nest matures, redundant workers flying off in search of fruit and sugary food can become a nuisance.
Wasps are thought of as a nuisance because of their sting and fear of being stung. Wasp workers will aggressively defend their nest by stinging anything causing a disturbance. Unlike bees, wasps are able to sting repeatedly. The venom of the wasp contains a pheromone that acts as an alarm causing other wasps to become more aggressive. So it is a bad idea to swat a wasp near its nest site.
Wasp stings are usually irritating but harmless. A minority of people are hypersensitive to stings and may experience anaphylactic shock.
- Queen wasps start the nest on their own in the Spring and you will generally see an active wasp nest from May onwards.
- Wasps can nest in trees, foliage, roof spaces and in the ground.
- Nests will increase in size over the summer until late Autumn.
- Wasps do not swam so if you have what appears to be a swarm of wasps please take a closer look as they are probably bees. Details of local beekeepers can be found at the British Beekeepers Association web site and they are normally happy to re home a swarm of bees.
Non harmful wasps and bees
Every effort should be made to avoid carrying out control treatments against non-pest wasp species and bees, because of their strong beneficial role as pollinators and predators of garden pests.
Do I need to call a pest control company?
There is no need to kill every wasp you see. In the summer they perform the useful task of killing hundreds of other insects that are themselves a problem in the home and garden. So if wasps are tolerable, leave them alone. On the other hand, if you are being pestered by dozens of wasps daily then there is probably a colony nearby that you may wish to destroy.
If you wish to treat the nest yourself attention should be given to the safety of yourself and others around you. Most garden centres, hardware shops and larger stores stock a range of insecticides. Please remember that pesticides are dangerous. Always read the label before use and follow the manufacturers instructions at all times. Keep pesticides away from children and pets at all times.
Click on the link to the British Pest Control Association website for further information.