Species such as bald-faced hornets, cicada killer wasps, paper wasps and yellow jacket wasps are feared because of their aggressive demeanor, large size and ability to deliver multiple stings.
While having a wasps in a garden or orchard is welcome thanks to their roles as pollinators and controllers of pest populations, problems arise when wasps attempt to inhabit Philadelphia area homes and businesses.
Wasp infestations can be hazardous for people and pets. Not only are these pests' stings painful but also they can cause serious health complications. It is unwise for property owners to attempt to deal with these infestations without professional assistance. A local wasp exterminator should be contacted to remove the wasp nest and suggest improvements that will assist in preventing future infestations.
Bald-faced hornets are large at approximately three-quarters of an inch. Members of this species have black bodies, but their name comes from the distinctive white markings on their faces. Two slanting lines may be observed on their abdomens.
Unlike most wasp species, cicada killer wasps are quite docile. However, because of their two-inch-long size, this species is among the most feared. Their bodies are divided into three distinct segments, most of which are black with bright yellow markings.
The narrow brown body of paper wasps makes them distinctive from other species. With black and yellow wings, the paper wasp measures three-quarters of an inch.
Yellow jacket wasps are smaller at about one-half inch in length. Their bodies are covered with black and yellow stripes in addition to being smooth and hairless.
Wasps are welcome in many gardens, orchards and crop fields because they perform natural pest control. Species such as mosquitoes, flies, earwigs and many others are consumed by wasps. Nectar and honey also may be eaten. Adult cicada killer wasps eat only these sweet substances. They hunt cicadas solely to bring them back to their nest as sustenance for their young.
Wasps are drawn to sugar and protein, two items that also are featured in peoples' kitchens. Accordingly, it is not unusual to find these pests congregating around picnics and barbecues where they prefer foods such as meat, sauces, condiments, salad dressings, juices, sodas and desserts. Pet food similarly may be targeted.
Bald-faced hornets prefer to suspend their nests in elevated locations. Utility poles, trees, the eaves of buildings, posts for porches and outdoor light fixtures are likely places to discover a nest. These nests may be approximately the same size as a basketball, and they appear to be made of paper.
By contrast, cicada killer wasps construct underground nests. Also unlike bald-faced hornets, this species does not live in a colony. Instead, they are solitary, burrowing into soft soil or sand, sometimes close to foundations, stepping stones, sidewalks or driveways. Anywhere that vegetation is sparse may be of interest to a cicada killer wasp.
Paper wasps are social insects that live in sizable colonies. The nests constructed by these colonies are suspended from elevated places, much like the nest of the bald-faced hornet. Shaped like an upside-down umbrella, these nests have no outer covering.
Yellow jacket wasps also are social insects, but they prefer underground nests. Colonies of these pests may take over an underground burrow that was abandoned by a mammal. Because their nest is located underground, yellow jacket wasps are sensitive to vibration and sounds such as those created by a lawn mower.
PROBLEMS WITH WASPS
With the exception of the even-tempered cicada killer wasp, most wasp species are noted for their aggressive behavior. This behavior is particularly noticeable when a person gets too close to a wasp nest. Because these nests frequently are well-concealed, it is possible for a person to disturb a nest without intending to do so.
Wasps are widely feared by people because they are capable of delivering multiple stings. Whether people are allergic to these stings or not, it is possible to suffer a severe adverse reaction. Wanting to avoid an encounter with wasps, people may begin to spend more time indoors, avoiding barbecues, picnics or just relaxing on the deck.
Soon, it becomes all-but-impossible to spend time outdoors. With anxiety attending every trip out the door, people may simply decide not to go outside unless it's absolutely necessary.
Most wasp species are infamous for their aggressive behavior. They are known to "dive bomb" people who get too close to their nest or to swarm around a hapless victim who inadvertently disturbs colony members.
Wasps may begin to be seen when the warm weather arrives in the spring. Their activity levels peak during the summer months, but noticeably dies away with their cooling temperatures of the fall. People are most likely to encounter wasps during the daylight hours. However, it may be possible to disturb a nest and raise a swarm even during the night.
A single alarmed wasp is capable of emitting a pheromone that alerts other colony members of potential danger. This may incite several colony members to attack, leading to serious health consequences for human or animal victims.
Although wasps do not transmit diseases to people with a bite or a sting, they still represent a significant health threat. This is because of their ability to sting multiple times and to incite other colony members to attack a victim.
A person who receives a single sting may only experience symptoms like redness, pain and swelling in the sting area for a few hours or a couple of days.
However, some individuals are particularly sensitive to a wasp's sting. Even one sting may cause them to suffer reactions that include generalized swelling, nausea and vomiting. Usually not life-threatening, this condition may not require medical attention.
Someone who receives many stings or who is allergic to stings may have a potentially life-threatening reaction. Known as anaphylaxis, this condition involves symptoms such as low blood pressure, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty with breathing and swallowing. It is imperative that people suffering these symptoms receive immediate medical attention.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Homes or businesses in Philadelphia may have a wasp infestation if the following signs are apparent:
• Several stinging incidents
• People being dive bombed by buzzing insects
• Flying, buzzing insects congregating around a spot on the ground
• Paper-like nests hanging from eaves, light fixtures, trees or utility poles
To help prevent wasp issues, the following precautions should be taken:
• Use screens on all doors and windows
• Refrain from leaving doors and window open
• Keep garbage cans clean
• Only use lidded garbage cans
• Repair plumbing and irrigation leaks
• Cover or seal holes in building exteriors
• Regularly inspect buildings for the signs of new nests
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.