When it comes to pest control in Southern Louisiana, there may be a number of different critters and insects you are looking get rid of. One of the most disturbing flying pests found active throughout the state, especially during the summer months, are wasps. Though wasps do provide benefits to the ecosystem they habit, for humans they pose risks of stinging, which is not only painful but can also lead to dangerous allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. If a wasp nest is not in a location that greatly disturbs human activity, it is best to avoid it and tolerate it as best as possible. If there are many human-wasp interactions, however, it may be time to look into professional wasp control. Before you enlist an extermination team, learn more about the habitats, dispositions, and food sources of these stinging insects with the following wasp facts.
Difference Between Wasps and Bees
When identifying insect species for pest control, it is important to make sure you are dealing with wasps rather than environmentally essential honeybees. One of the main differences between wasps and bees is why the former is considered a pest, and that is the wasp’s temperament. Wasps are known to be much more aggressive than bees.
In terms of physical traits, wasps have longer, more slender bodies with narrow waists. Additionally, while both bees and wasps drink nectar, wasps are unable to turn that nectar into honey. Similarly, most wasp species do not pollinate, although there are a few species known to contribute successfully to plant pollination.
Types of Wasps
It may surprise you to learn that both hornets and yellow jackets are actually types of wasps. All are typically much more aggressive than bees and are a target for rapid pest control. Hornets live in large, highly organized colonies. Their main physical distinctions are their size, which is typically much bigger than other wasps, and their coloring, which is usually black and white or reddish-brown. Yellow jackets are noted for their bright yellow and black markings. Unlike other types of wasps, however, yellow jackets often build their nests low in trees and bushes along wooded regions. They are often highly aggressive and may sting repeatedly.
The ultimate goal of wasp control is to eliminate the nest. This should only be done, however, if it is causing a persistent problem for humans in the vicinity, as tampering with the nest is in itself a risky action. Wasps are highly defensive and protective of their nests and will usually swarm to defend it.
They tend to build these colony structures in locations that are not easily visible to humans, which can lead to surprise encounters, aggressive wasps, and painful stings. Most wasps build their nests out of paper-like material or mud in such places as under the branches of trees, attic rafters, window and door frames, under deck or porch floors, house eaves, porch ceilings, and under railings. When wasps begin to die off during cooler weather, their nests are deserted and are usually not reused by subsequent generations.
Within a nest, colonies may contain between 1,500 and 15,000 wasps, depending on the species, all populated by a single reproductive female. Pest control seeks to eliminate the nest, effectively destroying the colony. Each colony typically includes three kinds of wasps: the queen, the female workers, and the male drones. The queen lives for approximately one year and will hibernate in the winter to emerge in the spring, usually around May. The female workers live for about three weeks, while the male drones may live slightly longer than their female counterparts, and their main purpose is reproduction.
Wasp Food Sources
Like bees, wasps are drawn to sweet food sources, such as nectar, honey, sugar, and fruit. In fact, they have been known to occasionally steal large quantities of honey from beehives. Because of their diet, wasps tend to build their nests near picnic sites, outdoor patios, or any places with open garbage cans. Initial stages of pest control can include changing human habits to keep an area cleaner and free of wasp food sources. In addition to sweets, however, some species of wasps also feed on other insects, both living and dead. This means they can keep your garden free of other pests and are actually beneficial to the growth of flowers and other plants.
Indoor infestations are serious occasions for professional pest control. Luckily, wasps do not usually come into homes purposefully, except for a queen looking for a roost to hibernate through the winter. If a nest has been built near a window, door, or exposed crack, then wasps may begin to fly in and out of your home looking for food. Sometimes, however, wasps may build their nest inside an exterior wall, with access via a small hole or crack. When homeowners see wasps flying in and out of this crack, they tend to seal it up, often inadvertently trapping wasps inside the house. They may then begin to chew through the wallboard and infest your home.
Wasp stings are one of the biggest threats of infestations and one of the prime reasons to call in professionals for pest control. Unlike bees, wasps do not die when they sting you, nor do their stingers stay in your skin, but their poison can be potent. Wasps also inject a chemical with their sting that makes you more easily detectable to other wasps, which is why it is especially important to avoid wasp nests and their swarms.
Quick treatments for wasp stings include washing the wound with warm soapy water, reducing any swelling with ice, applying an antiseptic, and taking painkiller or antihistamine to reduce soreness or itchiness. If you are stung and start showing signs of a serious allergic reaction, it is imperative to see a doctor immediately.
With this collection of wasp facts, you can be better prepared to recognize a potential infestation. Pest control is an essential mitigation strategy for keeping your home or office space a healthy living environment for humans and other non-pest species. While wasps provide some benefits to nearby gardens, if their aggression becomes intolerable, be sure to contact your local exterminator for effective wasp control.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.