While wasps provide valuable services in the natural world, they can also prove to be troublesome pests.
Yellow jackets, bald faced hornets and cicada killer wasps all are examples of pests that are common in Bucks County. When the members of any of these species establish a nest too close to a home or office, then encounters between people and wasps become frequent. With the risk of serious stinging incidents high, it is always wise to be proactive when a wasp infestation is suspected. A licensed exterminator is qualified to eliminate the colony so that people can return to enjoying the outdoors.
All wasps are winged six-legged insects. Yellow jackets typically are about one-half-inch long and have the black-and-yellow stripes that most people associate with wasps. The yellow jacket's body is smooth and slender without the hair that is seen on similarly colored bees.
The larger bald faced hornets may grow as long as three-quarters of an inch. Although they look similar to yellow jackets, bald faced hornets have black bodies and distinctive white patterns on their faces. Their abdomens are marked by two slanting lines.
The size of the cicada killer wasp makes them appear fearsome. At two-inches long, they are noticeably larger than other wasp species. Their abdomens are black with bright yellow markings in three distinct segments.
Most of the wasp species in Bucks County eat a steady diet of insects. Many of these are considered pests, which means that wasps frequently are welcome in gardens. Mosquitoes, flies and earwigs all are commonly consumed. Wasps also may eat large amounts of nectar and honey. The cicada killer wasp adult survives almost entirely on these substances. Cicadas are hunted and taken back to the nest as food for larvae.
Because wasps prefer protein and sugar, many human foods are attractive to them. This may include any of the foods that are common at a picnic or barbecue like hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas, salad dressings, fruits, vegetables and desserts.
Yellow jackets most frequently inhabit underground colonies. An abandoned rodent burrow provides the ideal habitat because the yellow jackets do not have to do much to make it habitable. This nesting location means that the colony is quite sensitive to sound and vibration. The use of a lawnmower or other gardening and landscaping tools may provoke them to attack.
By contrast, the nest of the bald faced hornet is found in an elevated place. Looking as if they are constructed of paper, the nest may be similar in size to a basketball. It may be suspended from a tree, utility pole, porch post or the eaves of a building.
Like yellow jackets, cicada killer wasps prefer underground nests. However, they typically are responsible for the construction. These nests can become complex underground although the surface may remain largely untouched. The solitary cicada killer wasp may burrow into the ground in the lawn, at the edge of a concrete slab, in the sandy areas where playground equipment is set up and in any place where vegetation is sparse.
PROBLEMS WITH WASPS
Wasps are responsible for a great deal of unease in people. This is because they are large and frequently display aggressive behavior. When wasps become too numerous, people may decide to curtail their outdoor activities. Eating outdoors and otherwise enjoying the yard simply becomes too stressful with these uninvited guests.
Wasps may not restrict themselves to the outdoors. When they encounter an open door or window, they may use it to gain access to additional food sources. When wasps frequently are found indoors, then the services of a qualified exterminator are required.
Wasp activity begins to be noticeable each spring as workers emerge in search of food sources. Activity levels reach their height in the summer, and the population begins dying off as the weather turns cold in the fall. Similarly, wasps are rarely encountered before dawn or after dusk. This means that they are most likely to be out and about while people are as well.
When a wasp nest is located too close to a human habitation, then encounters become inevitable. Wasps have a reputation for being excessively territorial. Thus, when their nest is close to a spot where people frequently are, the likelihood of being stung multiples. Avoiding the area where the nest is located is one of the best ways to minimize this risk. However, it will be necessary to have the colony professionally removed to regain use of the area.
Wasp stings have a reputation for being among the most painful. Nonetheless, a non-allergic person who receives a single sting will experience few symptoms aside from pain and redness.
However, wasps are capable of delivering multiple stings, and when one colony member is alarmed, others quickly become so. This may mean that several wasps engage in the stinging attack. Even someone without an allergy may be subject to serious health complications in this scenario. Excessive pain, swelling, dizziness, nausea and vomiting are a few of the symptoms.
People who are allergic to stings may have these symptoms after a single sting. Subject to all-over swelling, these individuals may experience difficulty breathing, and they require immediate medical attention.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Homes or businesses in Bucks County may have a wasp infestation if the following signs are apparent:
• Nests discovered hanging from posts or eaves
• Seeing several flying insects clustered around a hole in the ground
• Being "dive bombed" by flying insects
• Experiencing several stings
To help prevent wasp issues, the following precautions should be taken:
• Keep windows and doors closed
• Repair holes in window and door screens
• Place lids on garbage cans
• Routinely clean garbage cans
• Repair plumbing and irrigation leaks as soon as they are discovered
• Look for new nests on or close to buildings
Wasps can be aggressive and have the ability to sting multiple times. Wasp infestations are best handled by pest control professionals. Treatment methods vary depending upon the type and location of the wasps.
At SafeGuard, our pest control technicians have extensive training enabling them to accurately identify wasp species and employ the proper treatment to safely and effectively eliminate the problem for any Bucks County home or office.