A Quick Guide to Dealing With A Wasp Infestation

Wasps are incredibly resourceful insects, able to eat pretty much anything, including our beloved spiders and cockroaches, and pretty much use anything to help build their nests.

Unfortunately, though, these very same skills that make wasps so successful and important in supporting our ecosystem, are also what make them so disruptive and hard to manage when they decide to visit our homes and businesses.

If you notice more wasps than usual about your premises, then, you need be quick in order to avoid a full-blown insect infestation and full-scale attack on yourself and the people you live or work with.

It is, of course, much easier to prevent a wasp infestation than get rid of them once they’ve settled in. But if it’s already too late, then the quicker you take action the quicker you’ll have the stripy swarmers out of your life and back in their natural habitat.

What type of wasps are in your home or business?

There are hundreds of species of wasps and hornets around the world, but only a small handful of them visit gardens and infest homes and businesses in the UK. These four most common types of wasps are:

Common wasp (yellow jacket): A yellow and black wasp that builds yellow-brownish paper nests, typically underground or in attics.

German wasp: Another yellow and black wasp with three black dots on the front of its head and a diamond on the abdomen. Builds grey nests in similar places to the common wasp.

Median wasp: A similar coloured wasp with more black and less yellow. The median wasp has been dubbed the “French killer wasp”, but it much less aggressive than the rest.

Hornet: A big wasp with brown, red, and yellow-orange markings. Hornets are the largest of the social wasps, tend to build their nests in hollow trees, and only sting when provoked.

What do wasps eat?

Wasps generally keep themselves to themselves, whether it’s hunting for food, controlling insect populations, building their nests, or helping in pollination. However, when there’s been a wet spring and a hot summer, and especially at the end of the season when worker wasps have little to do, they can start venturing further afield to play.

By play, I mean getting drunk on rotting fruit and invading homes and businesses, of course. During the spring and summer, wasps go through a brood-building stage of preferring foods packed with protein. But in the latter months, when they’re relieved of their parental responsibilities, they become more attracted to sweet and sugary foods like juices, ice lollies, honey, fruit, and cocktails — especially cocktails.

Why are wasps in your home or business?

 There are many reasons you could have a wasp infestation in your home or business. Some reasons are environmental, such as hot weather causing there to be lots of sweet foods like blackberries about, and some are more site-related, such as leaving doors, windows, and vents open and lots of sugary treats on the counter.

A mixture of the two is when things get really serious. Wasps are master builders and, given the opportunity, they will build nests in wall cavities, loft spaces, garages, and pretty much any other suitable void they find.

Householders and property owners tend to only notice they have a wasp infestation weeks later when they see a few flying around and begin wondering how the heck they got in. If this sounds familiar, what you choose to do next usually determines how many times you’re going to get stung, if at all.

What threats do wasps pose?

Like bees, wasps sting out of self defence. But unlike bees, when wasps sting, they don’t die instantly in a dramatic act of martyrdom for their hive, but rather keep on stinging.

And keep on stinging they will. Wasps are offensive creatures and it takes little aggravation to make them sting you, especially if you’re flailing your arms around and panicking.

What makes a wasp attack even more troubling is that when they perceive a threat, they may “call for back up” by releasing pheromones — essentially magnets for other wasps. Trying to swat one solitary wasp from your piña colada, then, could quickly escalate to being attacked by a huge swarm.

How do you get rid of a wasp infestation?

As you can see, fighting fire with fire is never going to work when dealing with wasps. That means trying to get rid of a wasp nest by smoking it out, dousing it with water, or hitting it with a baseball bat is only going to end in disaster for everyone.

That being said, when you spot a nest in your home or business, you do want to take immediate (but appropriate) action to remove it. One solution many people turn to is wasp sprays. However, as wasp sprays are toxic, they can be harmful to you and mean your home or business has to be vacated.

Using a pest control specialist to deal with a wasp nest will not only ensure it will be removed without harm or issue, but also that the queen won’t emerge the following year a build a new nest in the same place. Typically, a professional will take care of the nest within a few days, so you can quickly get back to running your business, enjoying your cocktails, or whatever you were doing before your life was taken over by wasps.