Getting Rid of Wasps

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In most cases, the benefits of wasps usually outweigh the potential harm they may cause to humans, unless a nest is in a high traffic area. When found in high traffic areas some wasps, like the paper wasp may leave the nest and dive bomb intruders, and inflict painful stings. Both wasps and yellow jackets can sting multiple times. When the nest or insects are not posing any immediate threat to pets or people, it can be left for the season and removed during cooler weather. However, there are times when control is necessary. I will go into the types of wasps, the different methods of control, and the signs of an allergic reactions both non-threatening and threatening that a wasp sting can cause.


Types of Wasps

Before you can get rid of a wasp, it is wise to know what kind you are dealing with. There are two types of wasps, the social wasp and the solitary wasp.Each has different temperaments, as you will soon see.


Social Wasp

The social wasps are the most aggressive.These flying insects can make nests in attics, under roofs, in cracks around the house, in hollowed out logs or even in objects that gives them a nice opening with a strong shelter.

This wasp builds communal nests made from wood fibers and saliva. The brood comb, where larvae are reared, look like an inverted umbrella with open ends. Workers will cling to the underside of the nest guarding, feeding and performing housekeeping chores. As you might expect, the social wasps are carnivores, feeding on caterpillars and flies. Amazingly, the wasps will chew up their victims’ bodies into a paste and feed it to the larvae. In return, the larva creates sweet syrup that is consumed by the adults.


Social Wasp Caste Structure

1. Queen - Female - fertile and creator of the colony

2. Drone - Male - develops from unfertilized egg.

3. Caste Worker - Unmated adult females

The caste structure in the social wasp system is built around aggressive interactions. If the queen cannot sustain its dominant role, another fertile adult female will take over the responsibility of laying eggs.


Included in this wasp family are the hornet, paper wasp and yellow jacket.

Paper wasps build their nest under horizontal surfaces, which includes eaves, tree limbs and overhangs and abandoned structures. Of the social wasps the paper wasps is one of the most harmless species of social wasps. The only time they become a pest is when these establish a nest around human traffic.

Hornets are the most fearsome looking of the wasps, territorial but less aggressive than the yellow jacket.

Yellow Jackets are the most distinctive, having a thick waist and bright yellow patterns. These social wasps are aggressive and territorial. They will defend the nest until their own demise. Of all the wasps in the social wasp family, the yellow jacket is considered the ultimate pest.They are sometimes called meat wasps.


Solitary Wasp

The solitary wasp is elegant in appearance, having a very long, thin body and waist, but yet, not particularly colorful. Unlike the social wasp, all adult wasps are fertile.

The female wasp will forage alone.The nesting habits of the solitary wasp are diverse, with some not building nests at all. If she decides to build a nest, it is solely for herself and her offspring. In other cases, the solitary wasp will lay its eggs in their prey's nest, or attach their eggs to larvae of other insects like butterflies and moths. This method, allows the larvae a ready feast upon hatching.

Solitary wasps are the most docile and their stingers are usually used for hunting and not for defense.

In most cases, they show little to no aggression towards humans or other large animals. In addition, they are considered beneficial insects to the gardener, killing garden pests like aphids and beetles.


The following are within the solitary wasp family:

1. Mud-daubers

2. Spider wasps

3. Digger wasps

4. Potter wasps

5. Pollen wasps


Benefits of Wasps

When a wasp is swooping at you, it's hard to fathom that a wasp can be beneficial to humans and the environment. Let me give you a quick sampling of some of their positive aspects.

1. They are natural scavengers. For example, the yellow jacket may scavenge for dead insects to give to their young.

2. The different species of wasps hunt white flies, beetle larvae, spiders, aphids, caterpillars and other insects either feeding upon or using the insects to provision their nests. For example the blue mud dauber is considered beneficial because they help to regulate the population of black and brown widow spiders.

3. They can pollinate plants and crops. The fig wasps of the tropics are responsible for pollinating almost 1000 species of figs.

As you can see, they do offers benefits for humans and the environment. But sometimes, there is a collision between nature and humans, be it a bomb diving wasp or a member of your family being allergic to the wasp. When this happens, ignoring the problem is not possible.


How to Get Rid of Wasps


Even though both solitary wasps and social wasps are important as predatory insects and as pollinators, you do have to draw the line when they become a danger to you in your own yard, house or garden.

The best times to get rid of wasps are after sunset or before sunrise. Why, because at dusk, the wasps will fly back to their nest and remain their until sunrise.


Getting Rid of Wasps

Just to get rid of wasps that wander into your territory you can use the following:

1. Some use citrus oil extract. This will kill wasps on contact. However, some question the toxicity of the ingredients limonene and linalool has on mammals. My advice, use it with care.

2. To get rid of hornets use wasp killer spray that can kill the wasps on contact.

3. To keep the insects away from the immediate area you can use mothballs. In fact, I put four or five mothballs in a nylon sock, knotted it, and put it in the back of our mailbox and a side door that we don't use. Yes, I had a wasp trying to make a nest in my mailbox.

I do know the mail carrier didn't like it because I seen my mail on the ground. That definitely did not make me happy. Though my mailbox does not smell very sweet, it solved my and the mail carrier's problem.

4. Wasp traps


Getting Rid of Wasp Nests

Usually the best time to get rid of a wasp nest is in the late evening or every early morning. Some have even suggested going out when it is dark because the wasps will less likely come out to fight.

To protect yourself you should dress yourself in multiple layers of clothing and gloves, and a mask to protect you from inhaling the fumes.

1. Projectile wasp spray - Projectile wasp spray works for elevated nests. Spray the entrance with any wasp-killing agent, like Raid. A projectile spray will allow some distance between you and the wasps, usually 15-20 feet. Spray liberally.

Funny as it may seem, but when I and my dog were chasing and being chased by a wasp in the house, I was thankful for that projectile spray. Thankfully, it landed on the patio windows, it made cleanup a lot easier.

2. Use a pressurized bug bomb - Standing a few feet away from the wasp nest, aim the bomb right into the mouth of the wasp nest. Even if the bomb falls outside the mouth, the wasps will be destroyed along with the nest. (Be sure to follow instructions).

A pressurized bug bomb works great for a fireplace or in an attic. Just be sure to cover all openings so the insects cannot escape. Then slip in a can of D-Con, Raid or Spectracide insect bomb. After you have bombed the area, be sure to air the area out well. As you might expect, the bomb can smell nasty. One final note, remember that this aerosol bomb is highly flammable so make sure you do not but a bug bomb in an attic that has a gas furnace.

Once you have eliminated the wasps in your attic, you should put up some chemical cards labeled for yellow jackets one to every three studs. This will eliminate the same problem next year.

3. Underground nests- For underground nests you will want to use a wasp killer that is not labeled as a "projectile spray".

No matter, where the nest is located you will need to repeat the process two to three times to make sure that the wasps have permanently left. Once you see no traffic, it will be safe to knock down the nest, or fill the nest with dirt or gravel if it is in the ground.


Home Remedies For Wasps

In truth, the only home remedy I would recommend is the use of a killing spray. Okay, maybe, I am a little squeamish about this, but if you are like me, you do not want to get stung. Nevertheless, if you want to see what some are doing on the “home remedy removal front”, here is a sampling.

1. Wasp-killing spray. Okay, I can do this; in fact, I have used wasp-killing spray.

2. Wasp nest hanging from a tree - Set a small fire beneath the nest. The smoke will either suffocate or cause the others to abandon the nest.

3. Wasps hanging around the garden - you can make a sugary mixture that will attract the wasp. Once they entered the entrance of the bottle trap, the wings will be stuck to the sugar-water, causing them to drown. Maybe, I am doing it all wrong, but this did not work for me.

4. Beef Liver Trap- Use a string and tie the liver to a branch or a tree, away from the house. Under the liver pieces, place a can half-filled with soap water. Once the wasps have gorged on the meat, they will be too heavy to fly back, and will fall into the soapy water. They claim the detergent will render their wings useless and cause them to fall into the water and drown.

5. Wasp traps in early spring. The wasps that are usually seen in early spring are the queen wasps. If you are able to get rid of the queen wasp, you will eliminate the 1000 of wasps that they may produce.

If at all possible, prevention is the best way to keep human and nature in harmony.


Prevention


Prevention is the first line of defense. Not only does it keep humans safe, but also the wasps. Here are some simple ways in which you can keep the wasps from taking up residence around your home.

1. Keep your garbage bags tightly sealed and in garbage can. Wasps like to hover around garbage cans for food.

2. Keeps lawns clean. Wasps prefer to build nests where there is overgrowth, thus, clean up the overgrowth.

3. If you have fruit trees, pick up the fallen ones and pluck the fruit when ripe. The wasps love the sweetness of the fruit. My husband can attest to wasps love of fruit when he got stung by one when he was picking some of our apples with his bare hands.

4. Remove Sources of Food - In the spring and summer, wasps are attracted to anything that contains protein.

5. Seal the wasps’ point of entry. Which means, filling cracks in walls, around doorway entrances, and other possible openings.


Bee Sting-Allergic or Hypersensitive Reactions


An allergic reaction to a wasp sting can develop anywhere on the body. Some reactions to a wasp sting, though painful, are not life threatening. Some non life threatening symptoms are:

1. Hives

2. Swelling

3. Nausea

4. Vomiting

5. Abdominal cramps

6. Headaches

With non life-threatening reaction to a sting, antihistamines can help fight the reaction. (Be sure to use the antihistamine according to a physician's instructions.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who have life-threatening reactions to a wasp string. Such as:

1. Dizziness

2. Unconsciousness

3. Difficulty breathing

4. Swelling of the throat

5. Shock

With a life-threatening reaction, immediate medical care is needed. Sometimes an individual will react to the sting immediately, and in other cases, it may take 30 minutes for the sting to develop symptoms, with the effects of the sting lasting for hours.

Epinephrine (adrenaline) can reverse the effects of the sting, if treated in time. If the response is not reversed in a short time, the patient can die of anaphylactic shock.

People who are aware that they are allergic to stings should carry a sting kit (which is a normal syringe or an auto-injector (Epi-Pen) if they think they might encounter any stinging insects.

Many people can successfully take care of their wasp problem.However, if you know you are way over your head at doing the job, then you will need the help of the professional. Why? They have the equipment, tools and poison that can get the job done quickly and without anyone being stung.


References

Wasps and Yellow Jackets - http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/waspsandyellowjackets.html

Social Wasps - https://projects.ncsu.edu/cals/course/ent425/tutorial/Social/wasps.html

Solitary Wasps - http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100916150

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