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Adult worker wasps may be searching for your sugar


September 2018

Wasps on window against blue sky
No one wants wasps in their home

At this time of year, wasps can become a real irritation. While they have been around all summer, it is often as the weather begins to cool that they can become their most irritating.

To understand this fully one would have to really understand the unique lifestyles of wasps; from how in spring the queen wasps begin to lay eggs that will become workers to feed newer eggs and how drones and future queens evolve.

But from a human point of view, the likelihood of being stung is the key aspect and this is enhanced towards the end of summer when the initial cycle of egg laying is long finished and the system in the nest for providing food has also collapsed. At this time adult worker wasps can be left with no food supply. Instead they start to live off rotting fruit, tree sap and any other sources of sugar they can find.

So a glass of beer or an uncovered jar of jam will act as a magnet and this is why wasps can become a real nuisance, especially if you have a nearby nest and the wasps can get into your home.

If it is only a few wasps that are causing problems, then you may be able to leave them alone because as the weather cools off in later autumn, the worker wasps will die and the queen wasps will hibernate, end of problem until next year!

For the odd stray wasp, you can often repel them with peppermint – dilute a little peppermint oil in water and spray it around the areas where the wasps tend to come. Also a mix of a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water in a spray bottle makes a good solution to spray at stray wasps and should kill them quickly. There are of course commercial sprays available on the market.

But if you have a nearby wasps’ nest that is causing problems, then stronger action may be required.

There are a few traditional ideas that neighbours may suggest which are not really a very good idea.

These include:
Setting the wasps’ nest on fire. This is not a good solution. For a start wasps’ nests are hugely flammable so can go up in flames in seconds, definitely not recommended if the nest is near the house or a building. While fire may destroy a lot of the wasps, it will not kill all the wasps and certainly not the ones out foraging for food. Also setting fire to a wasps’ nest is not easy and more than likely you won’t be able to get away quickly enough before getting stung.

Drowning a nest. Again if you direct a full strength jet of water from a garden hose to the nest, it will pretty well destroy it. But while again you may kill quite a few wasps, a great number will survive and quite likely turn angrily to the cause of the problem. Also, if the nest is inside the roof of your house, water inundation isn’t a great idea.

Sealing up the entrance. Blocking off an entrance to a wasps’ nest again doesn’t work as the wasps will simply find or create a new entrance.

Instead, one way is to go out at night and carefully cover the entire wasps’ nest with a big heavy duty bin liner. Then detach the wasps’ nest from its position and seal the bag. Don’t use a torch or this will awaken the wasps. Then move the nest in the bag to a big bin with a tight fitting lid well away from the house. You can then spray them or dispose of them in another manner. Wearing good protective clothing is important, including goggles and gloves. Wasps can be incredibly fast and bad reactions to wasps’ stings are not uncommon, especially if stung multiple times.

There are of course strong commercial spray preparations on the market designed to destroy whole nests in their original location. But these can only work if the nest is in an accessible site and not too lively.

Another solution of course is to call in the experts and today there are many wasps’ professionals who will come in and deal with wasp problems. They will have the equipment and knowledge to know how best to safely exterminate the wasps and nests.

While having the potential to be a real nuisance, and also a real danger to anyone allergic to wasp stings, nevertheless wasps are intriguing creatures with an extraordinary lifestyle. Wikipedia information is quite complex, but an easier read on the lifestyle of wasps is available at:

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