Here’s How Homeowners Can Avoid Problems with Wasps

An adult paper wasp on a nest with larvae. Photo by Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org.


By Tom McShane

Summer is right round the corner. As the weather changes, so does the life cycle of a number of insects, especially wasps. It won’t be long before wasps are at their peak for the year, and you have most likely seen wasps starting to emerge.

Tom McShane

So what exactly can you expect from wasps over the course of the summer and, as a homeowner, how can you deal with them and their nests if they start to become a problem? Here is some basic information about the life cycle of wasps over the summer, and some essential tips for tackling any potential issues.

When do wasps arrive?

It really depends on the weather. Warmer weather in late winter can cause hibernating queens to appear earlier. While this doesn’t always work out well for the wasps (if there is a shortage of food at that particularly time of year, then the early emerging queens can die of starvation), the winter weather can often be an indication of when to expect wasps to start cropping up. It’s usually safe to say that by the time June hits, we’ll be well on the way to seeing worker wasps out and about.

How to tell if you have a nest in or near your home…

Just seeing some wasps isn’t enough to determine whether there’s a nest near, in, or affecting your home. They’ll happily travel to find food or materials for nest building. Instead, there are some key signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Watch for wasps regularly flying near and in sheltered areas (such as guttering or roof spaces).
  • Try to spot patterns before the peak of summer; smaller nests are easier to deal with.
  • Keep your eye on areas such as wall cavities, eaves, sheds, and garages for return flight paths of wasps.

You could theoretically check the suspected area carefully, but it’s not really advisable as you don’t know where the nest might be or how easy it would be to disturb it. Unless you easily spot the nest, use wasp flight paths near typical nest areas to help with identification.

Summer tactics & advice for homeowners…

If your property is affected by a wasp nest in some way, whether it’s on or in your home or just somewhere like your garden, then there’s plenty you can do to keep safe and manage the situation.

Note that having the nest removed isn’t necessarily the best course of action. If it’s somewhere out of the way, such as the bottom of your garden near somewhere sheltered, then your best option is likely to just leave the nest alone. It might become a little irritating if you’re spending time out in the garden and a couple of the wasps drift over, but unless it’s causing any harm or danger then just let summer run its course and the nest will eventually be abandoned.

In your home, it can be a little different though. If a nest appears somewhere you frequent, such as under the roof of your porch or a wall near a window, then it’s best to get a professional to remove the nest. Don’t attempt it yourself; without the right equipment and knowledge, it can end in disaster.

Some broad tips:

  • If you see a wasp nest at all, whether in or near your home, don’t disturb it.
  • Don’t try to attempt removal yourself.
  • If the nest is somewhere out of the way that doesn’t cause any problems, just leave it alone; you don’t necessarily need it removed.
  • Wasps don’t swarm, so don’t worry about getting rid of single wasps if they drift into your home.
  • That said, the female worker wasps can sting repeatedly so try not to aggravate them!

What time of year do wasps disappear?

As a rule, it’s when the weather starts to get colder. This can be any time from September to mid/late October, and this can again be dependent on the trend of weather and average temperatures in seasons throughout the course of the year.

The drops in temperature often coincide with a nest effectively becoming “useless.” This occurs when the nest has produced new queens who have are ready to pupate for the winter — then it’s time for them to hibernate until the following summer.


Tom McShane is a digital marketing expert based in the UK, writing frequently for and working with local pest control firm Goodwin Pest Management, who provide advice and solutions for homeowners struggling with wasp nest problems. You can read their advice on wasps in more detail here.

Comments

  1. Wasps are really friendly if you give them a chance. I’ve worked among their nests and as long as I’m careful not to disturb them they are of no harm to me. Of course, I’m not afraid of them and used to them. We all tend to overreact when in the presence of bugs and spiders, however, some are highly beneficial to us like spiders that eat mosquitos. Please give the wasps some space and don’t just kill them on speck. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

    • What role do wasps play in the environment? Every article pretty much says to destroy their nests but no one talks about the importance or non- importance of wasps.

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