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When Do Wasps Die Off & All You Need To Know About Nests

Posted on: June 11th, 2015 by Goodwin Pest Management
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Summertime is just around the corner and we’ve all had experience of wafting wasps away from picnics or out of windows. But what if you’re dealing with more than one or two; what if you’re dealing with a nest? Wasp nests can contain anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 wasps at the peak of summer, and if you’re spotting more than a handful lurking around your gutters or your garden shed then it’s time to deal with them.

When Do Wasps Die Off?

As the summer draws to a close, a wasp colony will produce some new males and queens – these will fly away from the nest, mate and the queens will find somewhere to hibernate.

Once winter kicks in…

  • The cold weather and lack of food kills off the males; the queens are safe hibernating
  • Any nests will likely be inactive as new nests will be built in the summer
  • A lot of hibernating queens die due to predators (e.g. spiders)
  • If the winter is warm, queens come out of hibernation early; with limited food sources, they can die of starvation.

When Do Wasps Come Out?

Once winter is over, any surviving queens come out of hibernation and start on the building blocks of a new nest. After the initial structure is in place somewhere sturdy and sheltered (which is why wasps often choose loft spaces and guttering) the queen will start to lay eggs in the nest’s cells. The eggs hatch, the young grow, they continue to build the nest and the process continues for another year!

Where Do Wasps Nest?

Wasps can nest anywhere that’s suitable for them to breed, feed and build nests relatively undisturbed. They prefer places they can easily get access to which include wooden sheds, guttering and loft spaces, although it’s not unheard of nests appearing indoors – albeit slightly less common.

Wasps mainly nest in:

  • Loft and attic spaces
  • Fascias and guttering
  • Air bricks
  • Garages
  • Garden sheds
  • Other outbuildings

 

You may also find nests in:

  • Tree stumps and bark
  • Bushes
  • Holes in the ground

Are Wasp Nests Dangerous?

Strictly speaking, wasp nests themselves are not dangerous. If, for example, you’ve discovered one out of the way at the bottom of your garden then it’s unlikely to cause any harm. The wasps inside can be split into two types, social and solitary – if disturbed it is the social wasps that present potential dangers.

Dangers of wasps

  • A pheromone in the venom in wasp stings attracts nearby wasps and causes them to become more aggressive
  • Some people experience a severe reaction known as ‘anaphylaxis’, which requires immediate treatment
  • Wasps are particularly aggressive in the late summer and warmer early autumn months
  • The effect of wasp stings is accumulative; 30 stings or more can be life-threatening.
  • Stings to the face, chest or neck can be particularly dangerous due to swelling.

 

Common myths about wasp dangers

  • Wasps do not typically swarm, and definitely not in the same way as bees
  • Only the female wasps sting; male wasps are known as ‘drones’ and are often just used for mating before quickly dying
  • For most people, single wasp stings will wear off within 24 hours and can easily be treated
  • Just 0.5% of the UK population suffer from anaphylaxis; it’s extremely uncommon.

Useful reading:
Anaphylaxis Campaign: Insect Sting Allergy Facts

Inside A Wasp Nest

Wasps nests have one purpose and one purpose only – to ensure that more young are produced and that the line of the species is able to continue into the next year. And while you may have seen a safely abandoned wasp nest before, a fully working nest is a whole different story.

The nest is organised into ‘cells’ which the queen populates with the larvae of young wasps. The queen will lay eggs inside paralysed insects which, once they’ve hatch, will feed on the insects who have been their host. Once the wasps have grown by the summer, they’ll start to help build the nest and make sure it’s maintained.

If you’re spotting the early signs of a wasp nest or, when summer is in full swing, you’re experiencing the effects of a nest in or near your property then our team can help. We offer a specialist wasp nest removal service that ensures a safe and effective method of removal – so you don’t need to try risky home removal methods!

Click here for more details or call us on 0800 834 2530 for a free site survey.

Image Sources:
‘Wasps nest in my roof space’ – John – Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12859033@N00/411291629
“Paper wasps and nest” by Downtowngal – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paper_wasps_and_nest.jpg#/media/File:Paper_wasps_and_nest.jpg
“Wasp nest 3″ by Richerman – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wasp_nest_3.jpg#/media/File:Wasp_nest_3.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/96910855@N08/

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