WASPS: DANGEROUSLY HELPFUL

WASPS: DANGEROUSLY HELPFUL

WASPS: DANGEROUSLY HELPFUL

Most people fear wasps, and for a good reason.  Who would not? They are notorious for their stinging humans.  Some types are aggressive and even attack. They are a common nuisance to our Sunday afternoon outdoor picnics and barbecues.  And even though they say that wasps only sting when they feel threatened, you may have to stand very still for them not to notice you.  Try killing one-off when it comes near you, and all it’s family members would soon charge at you.  

Despite all this negativity, is there anything that wasps can do for the benefit of the ecosystem? Are they simply just a nuisance that poses danger too?  What do wasps do positively?

Let us try to study the wasps, learn how to identify them, and maybe appreciate them more.  

What are the wasps?

Wasps are annoying pests that are ready to sting humans, and their stings are very powerful and painful.  They build their nests near man-made structures as if they were their own territories. 

There are around 30,000 species of wasps.  Some of them we are all probably familiar with because they build their nests so close to us.  Their colors differ:: yellow, brown, and blue. The largest kind of wasp can go as long as 2 inches in length.  The smallest is only .0055 inches in length. Did you know that the smallest insect in the world is a kind of wasp?  It is the chalcid wasps, which is a solitary wasp.

In the world of wasps, there are two subgroups: solitary wasps and social wasps.   Social wasps are wasps that set up and live in colonies. This includes the yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets.  Only a small percentage of wasps are social – about a thousand. A single queen starts a colony by herself. This queen was fertilized the previous year and hibernate the rest of the winter, emerging later in the spring.  Soon after building the nest she would lay her egg. When these eggs hatch, she would take care of her young by herself. They would become her workers when they become adults. Eventually, their numbers would increase to as much as 5,000 wasps. This cycle happens annually.  Wasp would not survive to the following year, including the queen. Only the new fertilized queens would be the ones to survive the winter.  

The other subgroup, the solitary wasps, do not live in colonies.  Some solitary wasps build nests and some do not; those who do not build nests take over abandoned nests and make it their own.  They would rather fly solo to look for food. Solitary wasps are further divided into three groups: the squatters, the builders, and the diggers.  The squatters do not build their own nests and use only holes that are already existing.  The builders build their own nests. The diggers dig holes in the ground for their nests.

Wasps are natural pest controllers

While wasps are considered nuisance pests to humans, they are highly valued for their contributions to the ecosystem.  Wasps eat plenty of household, garden, and agricultural pests. Farmers encourage their presence. Caterpillars and greenflies are among the pests they eat.  

The adult wasps do not actually eat the insects they catch.  They do not have any appetite for that anymore. They give it to their young.  What the adults feed on is sugar from the nectar of flowers, as well as honeydew produced by aphids. 

Wasps are also good pollinators, though not as good as the bees. 

Wasp stings versus bee stings

Wasps have venom, making their stings very painful.  They sting when threatened, so we must behave in a certain way when wasps are around to avoid getting stung.  

Bees also sting, but when they do, it would be like a suicide mission; their stingers would be lodged on the skin of their victim, causing them to die.  Wasps, on the other hand, would not leave their stingers in the skin and are capable of stinging repeatedly. They continue to live after stinging and can go some other place to sting some more.

Signs of wasp stings

Wasp stings can cause so much pain to its victims.  Signs of wasp stings include:

  1. A raised welt that has a tiny white mark in the middle of the welt. 
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Pain and swelling
  4. Burning sensation
  5. Anaphylactic shock

Some people experience a severe allergic reaction to wasp stings, and this is called anaphylaxis.  This would happen when the body experiences shock after being stung by a wasp. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing difficulties, dizziness, lightheadedness, severe swelling of the face,  sudden hypotension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weak

Treatment of wasp stings

If you do not have any allergic reaction, then you can do the treatment at home yourself.  If the sting is mild, it can be treated at home.  Here are things to do when you only have a mild reaction to the sting: 

  1. Wash the site of the sting with soap and water.  Remove any traces of the wasp venom.
  2. Apply a cold pack to the sting site to reduce swelling.  Let it stay for 5 to 10 minutes. Elevate the affected area. You may cover with a bandage the bite site if you wish for added protection.
  3. Use over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce pain.  For the itchiness, take antihistamine drugs to relieve itching as well.  
  4. Baking soda can be used to soothe the skin too.

If you are allergic, then you must consult your healthcare provider.

What are the types of wasps found in the United States

Knowing how to identify wasps will certainly help you know which ones to stay away from because of their aggressive behavior, and which ones are not aggressive.

Here are the types of wasps:

Paper wasps

Paper wasps are among the most common wasps.  They collect fibers from wood which they use to make nests.  The nests are almost like paper. They are beneficial insects because they help rid gardens of pests, but they attack humans when they feel that they or their nests are threatened.  Their stings are quite painful and may even cause anaphylactic shock.

Mud Daubers

These are solitary wasps which grow to about ¼ inch to 1 inch in length. They are black with yellow markings on their legs and thorax. They usually fly alone and are not aggressive.  They build their nests from mud, and usually near buildings. They do not swarm and are tame unless provoked. 

Wasp hornet

A wasp hornet is a black wasp with white markings.  They are aggressive, they can attack without provocation and their stings are painful.  Like paper wasps, they also make paper-like nests out of wood fibers and their saliva. Consult a pest control professional to do if you have problems with wasp hornet infestation.  

Yellowjacket wasps

The yellow jacket wasps are considered the most dangerous of all the wasps.  They sting when they feel threatened and are highly territorial. They have a powerful sting and can be deadly for some people who might be allergic to their venom.  They are distinguishable for their black color with bright yellow stripes. Removing their nests if you see one is of utmost importance also. 

Management

If you spot wasps flying around you, do not kill it.  They are beneficial insects that can reduce the population of garden and agricultural pests like aphids.  And besides, they release pheromones that send a signal to their fellow wasps that they are in trouble. Soon, the other wasps would come to its rescue, putting you in more trouble.  

Here are some ways to get rid of wasps in your territory.  

  1. Cover your garbage bins and trash cans to cut off their food source.  Do not leave any edible materials outdoors. Wasps search for food in trash cans. 
  2. Avoid wearing sweet-smelling or floral perfume when going outdoors.  Wasps are attracted to sweet scents. If they detect you wearing this, they might come near you and investigate.
  3. Fill in spot holes in your yard.  These have the potential to become homes to the yellow jacket wasps.
  4. When drinking soda outdoors, use covered drinking glass or cups.  Wasps are attracted to sweet drinks. Drinking inside soda cans make them inconspicuous when they get inside and you might accidentally drink the wasp too.
  5. Seal potential entry points by wasps in your house.  You might just soon find one in your kitchen looking for food.  

If you have these unwanted pests in your lawn, be sure to contact the best pest control company in the Carolinas, Go-Forth Pest Control. 

Why Go-Forth Pest Control?

Finding the best pest control management is important if you want to completely eradicate these troublesome pests in your home safely and efficiently.  For their pest control needs, people from North and South Carolina trust only one name: Go-Forth Pest Control.

Go-Forth Pest Control has been in this business since 1959.  For more information, or to set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111.  Our friendly operators are standing by.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family owned exterminator company based in High Point, NC. The company covers The Triad, The Triangle, Charlotte, Hickory, Wilmington, Columbia SC.