Pest Control in June
The month of June is wasps ... again. Having been developing the colony since Easter, wasps are now prevalent all over Bracknell and Wokingham, these insects are a bit like spiders in that they trigger an irrational fear in us. I say irrational as few people are actually stung but everyone is scared of wasps with some people having full blown phobias where a wasp sends their blood pressure through the roof.
The Queen wasp will now be confined in her nest, she has become a egg laying machine producing drone after drone; their job is to defend the nest and bring in more food - the more drones produced equals more food and therefore more energy to produce even more drones. I liken it to an arms race at this time of year, wasps are insectivores and will predate another nest if its close so the largest colony will be the strongest.
There are six species of colony building wasps which we may encounter in June: the common wasp (pictured above), these like to build their nests in building voids: roofs and behind cladding, the common wasp is especially busy in the mornings. The Median wasp is slightly smaller than the common wasp and these are the ones that are attracted to sweet foods - those wasps that hang about in pub gardens, not very aggressive the Median wasp can be shooed away with the flick of a hand. The Median wasp is a relatively new species to the UK and so is the Saxon wasp; these arrived here from southern Europe in the 1990's and have settled all over southern England. An early finisher the Saxon wasp becomes problematic when the Queen dies and the colony relatively the nest - suddenly the garden is full of dopey wasps who don't seem to have any direction.
Then there are the Tree wasps, the Red wasp and the German wasp; these are definitely my wasps to treat of choice - extremely aggressive they are usually found in the ground and many gardeners will testify to how scary these can be after you've ran the mower over the nest.
German wasps will also nest in buildings and form a grey coloured nest , their aggressive nature means that we always suit up in full PPE when carrying out a wasp nest removal.
Why are wasps so bothersome in the late summer months?
Wasps are insectivores and you would think that insects are their main source of food, but you would be wrong on that. Wasps don't actually eat the insects that they catch, these are chopped up into a form of insect porridge and given to the larvae in the nest - in return the larvae secrete a sweet sticky substance which the wasps then eat. Towards the end of the summer there are fewer larvae and therefore much less of the wasps food, with numbers in their thousands the wasps are starving and becoming irritable - this is why they become such a nuisance as they can detect sweet perfumes, sugary drinks and food around us.
What is the point of wasps?
Wasps are voracious eating tonnes of insects that undoubtedly contain what we would call pest species - caterpillars and aphids, if left these would blight our crops affecting food production meaning less food for use. It is thought that wasps also visit flowers for nectar and as pollinators they perform the same role as honey bee's. A world without wasps maybe as bad as a world without bee's?
Why is it that dead wasps attract live wasps?
A dying wasp emits a pheromone or a chemical signature telling other wasps to be on the lookout, swatting angry wasps will only make things worse as they will become more aggressive.
How long does a wasp nest last for?
Wasps live for a season, so think from April through to October at the latest as the first cold spell will finish off any drones. The Queen wasp is a different story though, she will find herself a dry place to overwinter and hibernate until spring comes round again and the cycle starts again.