Although many people are frightened of wasps, by explaining their life cycle, this leaflet aims to allay some of those fears, through a better understanding the insects themselves. The queen wasp emerges from hibernation in the spring and looks for a site for a new nest. You will recognise her by her size (about three times the size of a worker wasp). She does not use the old nest from a previous year. There are no males at this time of year, as the queen was fertilised last autumn and the males died off at the end of the previous year.
The queen starts the nest by chewing wood or bark to make a type of paper Mache. At this stage the nest is only the size of a golf ball and is attached to the branch of a hedge, the ceiling of a porch, or a rafter in the loft etc. The queen then lays the first 10 or so eggs. The eggs hatch and turn into the familiar black and yellow striped wasps; these wasps forage for food and begin to enlarge the nest.
After this stage the queen never leaves the nest again. By late summer the nest may contain 10,000 or more wasps and be the size of a football; in very warm locations some nests can be even larger. All the worker wasps are sterile female workers, and their job is to attend the queen, maintain their nest, and bring back food for the young wasp grubs. In late summer a few male wasps and new queens are hatched.
These mate and produce fertilised queens. Unlike bees, wasps do not make honey. Instead the adult wasps feed on sweet substances like nectar in flowers and on fruit. They also kill large numbers of insects which they take back to the nest to feed the young. At this stage wasps are a beneficial insect as they are part of nature's control of many insects in the garden. They are also so busy collecting food for their young that they are not normally a problem. Wasps will, however, defend their nest aggressively if it is disturbed or threatened, so you should always leave eradication to a pest control technician who has protective clothing, experience of dealing with wasps’ nests and specialised insecticides only available to professional users.
As autumn comes, the queen stops laying eggs and a large number of wasps find themselves with less and less work to do. At this stage, wasps become a nuisance, as their search for sweet food takes them into kitchens and factories looking for jam, sugar, soft fruit, etc. They are drowsy and it is now that they are most likely to sting and cause fear.
Dead wasps can sting for a day or so after death, so remember not to go barefoot in the garden after a nest has been treated! The final part of the cycle is that the queen that originally built the nest, the female workers and males die, and only the young fertilised queens survive. These queens look for a safe crevice to spend the winter, then go into hibernation.
In the spring they emerge to start the life cycle over again. The old wasp nest consists of a fragile paper shell and contains only a little debris and the remains of any un-hatched eggs. It does not smell or cause any damage. If the nest is outdoors, it will dissolve in the wind and rain. Indoors the nest will slowly crumble into dust. It is not really necessary to remove the old nest, as wasps do not re-use the same nest year on year.
Wasps Nest Treatments
1/ If you have seen a steady stream of wasps flying in and out of a hole in your house or garden or have seen an active nest then we should be able to help. If we inspect the area you identify but do not find an active wasps nest (whether there is no active nest or the relevant insects are another species, such as bees), we will not treat the area and a call out fee of £35 will apply.
2/ Our Service is to attend your premises, inspect the relevant area and treat the active wasps nest. This does not include removing the nest, which in most cases is unnecessary and impractical.
3/ Should any wasp nest treated remain active 5 days after original treatment, we will revisit the premises to treat that specific nest. However, if on the return visit, we discover that the identified nest is a different nest to the one originally treated, you will be charged for a separate treatment at full rate.
4/ It is perfectly normal for a few wasps to remain around the nest entrance hole for a few days after treatment and this is not grounds for a re-treatment.
5/ Please note wasps never re-use the same nest and build a new one each season.
6/ We can normally treat nests up to a height of 6 meters (two storeys’ high) but for safety reasons cannot treat within chimneys, where there are nearby electric power cables, or enter un-boarded loft spaces additional charges for access equipment may be required. The technician will advise you on the first visit.
7/ Wasp nests take time to grow, so any nest you have found will usually have been there for at least a few weeks so please do not panic. Do not disturb the nest and keep children and pets away from its location until it is treated and especially for approximately 2 hours after treatment.