Despite providing pollination and natural pest-control services, wasps can be a nuisance or a dangerous threat. People who occasionally encounter a wasp while working in the garden or enjoying a barbecue probably do not need professional wasp control.
However, when bald-faced hornets, cicada killer wasps, paper wasps or yellow jacket wasps establish a nest that is too close to human habitations, then it becomes necessary to take action. Many members of these species are capable of delivering multiple stings, and it is not unusual to see other colony members joining in the attack. The outcomes for human victims range from painful to devastating.
Wasp control involves the removal and destruction of the nest, which is a hazardous task that is best left to experts. Thanks to the intervention of an exterminator, it is possible for families to return to enjoying outdoor spaces without the fear of being stung.
All wasps have six legs and wings, but beyond this, their appearance varies dramatically. Bald-faced hornets are large, with adults sometimes measuring as much as three-quarters of an inch. Their bodies are mostly black, but their faces feature the distinctive white markings that give these pests their name. Two slanting lines may be observed on their abdomens.
The two-inch long cicada killer wasp has a fearsome appearance that belies their gentle nature. Their abdomens are divided into three segments that are black with yellow markings.
Paper wasps generally are brown and sport distinctive black and yellow wings. At three-quarters of an inch long, they are quite large.
With their black and yellow stripes, yellow jacket wasps tend to be more easily identified by most people. They have a smooth, slender body that is approximately one-half inch long.
The wasp species that are commonly found in Philadelphia mainly eat a diet of insects. In fact, many of the bugs that are consumed by wasps are considered pests themselves, which means that gardeners and farmers welcome an occasional wasp into their flower beds and fields.
Earwigs, flies and mosquitoes are among some of the most common items in the wasp's diet. Wasps also are known to consume honey and nectar, with adult cicada killer wasps surviving almost entirely on these items. This species also hunts cicadas that they take back to their nest for larvae to feed on.
With protein and sugar forming large portions of the wasp's diet, it follows that human foods are irresistible. Hamburgers and hotdogs at barbecues are always vulnerable, as are sodas, juices, condiments, salad dressings, desserts and pet food.
Preferred habitats vary among the many species of wasps. Bald-faced hornets construct nests that appear to be made from a paper-like substance. These nests are suspended from places such as trees, utility poles, outdoor light fixtures or the eaves of a building. Many of these nests are approximately the size of a basketball.
Cicada killer wasps prefer underground nests. Because they are not social insects, they lead a solitary existence, constructing their burrows in loose soil. These nests can become complex underground, though they largely leave the surface undisturbed. Burrows may be found next to patios, driveways, playgrounds or anywhere that vegetation is sparse.
Like bald-faced hornets, paper wasps construct nests that may be suspended from trees, utility poles, porch posts or eaves. These nests are shaped like upside-down umbrellas and have no outer coverings so that it is possible to see the inner chambers.
Yellow jacket wasps live in underground colonies, frequently making use of abandoned animal burrows. Colonies of this pest are sensitive to sound and vibration. Accordingly, when these nests are located in lawns, the colony's members may be incited to attack when a mower is being used.
PROBLEMS WITH WASPS
With their large size and frequently aggressive behavior, wasps are an ongoing threat to peace of mind. When a nest is established too close to a home or in a yard, it becomes impossible for kids to play outdoors. Backyard barbecues become a thing of the past. Working in the yard turns into an ordeal. The fear of a stinging attack is a constant thing, and many people are forced simply to retreat indoors.
Unfortunately, wasps can get indoors. Being trapped inside makes wasps anxious, and they are likely to react with aggression. If wasps frequently are being found indoors and the homeowner is unsure of how the pests are gaining access, then it is wise to consult with a pest control professional.
Wasp activity peaks in the summer, with the first workers making their presence known as the weather grows warm in the spring. The cooler weather in the fall signals a lessening in wasp activity, and the species largely dies off or hibernates through the winter.
Wasps are most likely to be encountered between dawn and dusk. They forage for food and water, often bringing these substances back to their nests. Because wasps are most active during the daylight hours, encounters with people are common.
It is impossible to prevent confrontations when a wasp nest is located in a frequently trafficked part of the yard or is hanging from the eaves of a house. The territorial wasp is likely to react with a stinging attack when people venture too close to their nest. Avoiding the area of the nest is wise, and professional removal is recommended.
Generally, wasp stings are considered far more painful than bee stings. It also is worth noting that unlike bees, many wasps are capable of delivering more than one sting.
A person who does not have an allergy and receives a single wasp sting will experience symptoms like pain, redness and itchiness.
When an individual is stung several times by the same wasp or when they are attacked by a colony of wasps, then the reaction can be more severe. Even a person who does not have a known allergy to stings may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, excessive pain and swelling. Medical intervention may be required.
A single sting may be dangerous to an allergic individual. With comprehensive swelling, breathing difficulty, extreme pain, dizziness and loss of consciousness, these people require medical attention to recover.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Homes or businesses in Philadelphia may have a wasp infestation if the following signs are apparent:
• Several stinging incidents
• Seeing clusters of flying insects around eaves or a hole in the ground
• Being constantly bothered by flying, buzzing insects when outdoors
• Nests found in lawns, next to patios or hanging from eaves
To help prevent wasp issues, the following precautions should be taken:
• Inspect building exteriors for new nests
• Repair window screens
• Keep windows and doors closed
• Keep garbage cans clean
• Repair plumbing and irrigation leaks
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 Philadelphia home or office.