Pest Advice - Wasps

What are they?


Wasps are beneficial garden insects, collecting insects and larvae etc. to feed to developing wasp larvae in the nest during the summer months. Worker wasps will feed on a variety of foods including fruits such as apples, pears and plums. They collect wood to construct nests and may damage the wooden fences and garden furniture in the process.

By the end of the summer, the queen wasp stops laying eggs and the workers no longer need to collect food for the young in the nest. They become free to search for sweet things such as cakes or sweets and can become a nuisance. It is the ability of wasps to cause painful stings that concerns people most.

People's reactions to wasp stings can vary considerably from intense pain and swelling round the area of the sting, to a severe allergic reaction (known as anaphylactic shock) which can be life threatening.

The queen wasp lays eggs in the nest and hatch into larvae within a few days. Four to six weeks after the eggs are laid the first generation of workers emerge. These are female wasps which are smaller than the queens and take over responsibility for maintaining the nest and finding food, in particular high protein foodstuffs for the larvae such as flies, caterpillars, or spiders. The queen then devotes all her time to laying eggs and by the end of the summer the nest may contain 20,000 or more wasps. In the autumn the new queens and males produced from the nest mate and the fertilised queens search for hibernation sites. With the onset of winter weather the nests die out and are never reused.

Can I treat them?

Treating wasps nest can be very dangerous. If you do try to treat wasp nests yourself wear beekeeper type protective clothing to prevent being stung.

Nests can be found by looking for foraging wasps flying either towards or away from a nest.

They should only be treated with insecticides* when activity around the nest is quiet, ideally in the late evening before dusk.

You can obtain puffer packs from garden centres and hardware stores. You should apply insecticide powder around and into the entrance of the nest. Workers returning to the nest become contaminated and carry the insecticide into the nest. Control is usually achieved within a few hours.

*Always refer to the product instructions BEFORE use and follow these at ALL times. 



Last Updated on Thursday, January 4, 2024