What do wasps look like?

All the wasps found in the United Kingdom, with the exception of the hornet, are very similar, with black and yellow bands on their body and two pairs of wings.

Where do they live?

In spring, the queen leaves her hibernating quarters to seek nesting sites. These could be holes in the ground, hollow trees, sheds, loft spaces, etc. The queen starts to build her nest with a papery material that she makes by chewing wood mixed with saliva; this is known as wasp paper. She will raise the first few workers who will then enlarge the nest and care for the immature wasps to follow. The nest construction starts in spring and will reach its maximum size in September, when up to 10,000 workers may be present. An old nest is not used in subsequent years.

What do they eat?

Wasps usually eat insects, which are mainly garden or household pests. They also feed on dustbin waste and animal carcasses.

Pest status

A wasp, unlike a bee, can sting many times. Although the wasp sting is not normally serious, it can be very painful and, in certain cases, cause a severe reaction. It should, however, be remembered that wasps have a beneficial aspect as they kill many garden insect pests.

Please be aware that other insects resemble wasps, such as Mason Bees, Hive Bees and the Hover Fly. These are not target insects, and are therefore not treated as pests.

Control – DIY Treatments

If you decide to treat the nest yourself, suitable products can be purchased from hardware shops and garden centres. You must first locate the entrance to the nest. Following the flight pattern of returning wasps may help. Treatment should be carried out very early or late in the day when activity is at a minimum. Apply the insecticide to the entrance of the nest, or directly onto the nest if it is visible. Keep well away from the treated nest for at least 24hrs.

Consider the risks carefully before attempting a treatment yourself. Wasps are very aggressive when their nest is threatened, and multiple stings may result if your protective clothing is inadequate.