Anyone throughout the Bristol area who has attended a picnic or barbecue knows how annoying wasps can be. In fact, it is not unusual for people to react with fear when they are confronted with species such as the bald faced hornet, cicada killer wasp, paper wasp or the yellow jacket wasp.
The fearsome reputation of most wasps is well-earned. Many of these buzzing, fast-flying insects are capable of delivering multiple stings. Even a single sting is a painful experience, but when someone receives numerous stings, then they may have a severe and potentially dangerous reaction.
While wasps are pollinators and help to provide natural pest control, their presence becomes undesirable when their numbers are too great and when their nests are established inside or within close proximity to homes and businesses.
In these circumstances, it becomes necessary for professional pest control technicians to remedy the problem. Nest removal and destruction are critical parts of the job, and it is unwise for people to attempt this by themselves. An experienced pest management professional makes nest removal safe and efficient.
The bald-faced hornet measures between one-half and three-quarters of an inch when fully grown. Their bodies are black, but their faces feature distinctive white markings.
Because of their size, cicada killer wasps generally are feared. However, their one-and-a-half inches length belies an essentially gentle nature. With their black and yellow stripes, they do have a somewhat similar appearance to bees and other wasps.
Paper wasps have extremely slender brown bodies that are adorned with yellow and black wings. At maturity, most members of this species measure about three-quarters of an inch.
The familiar yellow jacket wasp has black and yellow stripes on their bodies. Individuals of this species generally reach a length of one-half inch.
Wasps are known to consume a wide variety of insects, many of which are considered pests. These may include mosquitoes, flies, earwigs, bees and others.
Honey and nectar also are staple food items. In particular, adult cicada killer wasps feed mainly on these two sweet foods. Nonetheless, they do hunt for cicadas, which are transported back to the cicada killer wasp's nest as food for their young.
Because wasps tend to eat protein and sugar, many human foods are attractive to them. They are regularly seen in the summer at picnics and barbecues where they are interested in burgers, hot dogs, bread, desserts, condiments, sodas and juices.
Some wasps, such as the bald-faced hornet, the paper wasp and the yellow jacket, are social insects that live in large colonies. Other wasps, like the cicada killer wasp, are solitary insects. These differences mean that the various wasp species have dissimilar nesting habits.
Bald-faced hornets and paper wasps prefer to suspend their nests from elevated spots like tree limbs, utility poles, the eaves of buildings or exterior light fixtures. The nest of the bald-faced hornet looks as if it was made of paper. Typically, it is approximately the size of a basketball.
Paper wasp nests also look as if they are constructed of paper. However, they look more like an upside-down umbrella. The nest is made without an outer covering so that it is possible to see the inner chambers.
Yellow jackets prefer to nest underground. They may inhabit an abandoned animal burrow or find a sheltered spot close to a foundation, beneath a porch or deck or beneath an outdoor stairway.
Similarly, cicada killer wasps prefer underground nests, though they do not live in colonies. This means that their burrows are small, though they may excavate several of them to house their young.
PROBLEMS WITH WASPS
When their presence is relatively limited, wasps may be no more than an occasional nuisance. This circumstance changes when wasps infest a particular property in great numbers. Typically, this signals that a wasp nest has been constructed somewhere on the property, perhaps quite close to the buildings that people occupy.
For many people, a wasp infestation is a constant source of stress. This holds true for those who are allergic to stings as well as those who are not. Outdoor gatherings become a cause for anxiety, and people and pets may actually decide to stay indoors rather than risk a sting.
After professional wasp control treatments, it is possible to experience a significant reduction in stress while also regaining the ability to enjoy the great outdoors.
Wasps typically are seen beginning with the warmer weather of the spring, and their presence may continue to be felt through the early fall. Summer marks the height of their activity, with the daylight hours being the most likely time to see wasps out and about.
Unfortunately, wasps are extremely territorial. This means that if people accidentally approach a nest, then they may be the victim of a coordinated stinging attack. Wasps are able to emit a pheromone when they are under attack that signals other colony members to come to their aid. Consequently, tangling with one wasp may soon mean an attack by many others.
While wasps do not transmit diseases to people through a bite or a sting, this does not mean that they do not represent a serious health threat.
It may be possible for a person to endure a single sting, or even a handful of stings, with only some pain, redness and swelling. Within hours or a couple of days, the signs of the sting typically are gone.
However, some people are susceptible to a stronger reaction. They may experience what is known as a large local reaction that involves vomiting, extreme swelling and other uncomfortable symptoms. Generally not life-threatening, these reactions may subside within a couple of days, and they may or may not require medical attention.
When an individual is allergic to stings, then they may go into anaphylaxis after a single sting. Low blood pressure, dizziness, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing and swallowing and diarrhea all are symptoms. Potentially life-threatening, such reactions must be attended to by a physician.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Indications of a wasp control problem include:
• Wasp nests hanging anywhere on the property
• Flying insects congregating around a certain spot on the ground
• Constant harassment by flying insects when outdoors
• Numerous stinging incidents
• Experiencing aggressive insect behavior on a regular basis
To help avoid wasp control issues the following precautions should be taken:
• Use screens on doors and windows
• Seal or cover all holes in building exteriors
• Keep garbage cans clean
• Use garbage cans with lids
• Identify and eliminate plumbing and irrigation system leaks
• Regularly inspect building exteriors for signs of nest construction
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 Bristol home or office.