We hope the following is useful for people generally interested in wasp facts or perhaps for those carrying out homework or school projects on them. As you can see from the information below, despite being well–known for the sting they can deliver, the wasp also has other talents.
You can also get more information on our FAQ page on wasps.
With over 1000 species of wasps in the UK, the vespidae family includes all social wasps and many of the solitary species. Some well-known ones include the common wasp and the hornet.
Their reputation for aggression goes before them and many other species in nature have mimicked the yellow and black markings to act as a warning to possible predators.
The Lifecycle of a wasp
The wasp season begins in at springtime. The queen emerges from hibernation and will begin to seek out a suitable location to build her nest.
As the only food source available to the queen at the start of the season is nectar from flowers they actually help pollinate plants in much the same way as the honey bee. As the nest begins to grow, adults catch prey to be eaten by the larvae. The larvae then regurgitate part of the insects exoskeletons, which produces a sugary liquid which the adults then feed on. The adults do not themselves eat the prey they catch first-hand.
Talented Nest Builders
Wasps are one of natures’ best architects. During summer they will chew up wood into pulp, mixing it with their own spittle, to create their version of concrete for nest building.
The internal structure of the wasps nest is very sophisticated.
If a nest is disturbed many of them will swarm out to protect it.
Each cell in the nest contains an individual young larva, making it a marvel of architecture.
Inside a wasps nest
The central stork suspends a series of flat combs which contain hexagonal individual cells (used to contain the wasps’ larvae). A mini-city is hung below a series of threads, and the hexagonal shape means shared walls minimises materials needed.
The wasps’ nest is an example of how evolution eventually comes up with the best answer. The shape of the nest allows for maximum density of wasps and young, with easy access to the entrance. It also makes the structure strong in conjunction with the fibrous material that they are constructed from. This hexagonal design is terribly effective and has been mimicked in many examples of humans’ architecture.
Wasps in the community build cells, but only one will be Queen and lay the eggs. The other ‘sisters’ look after the eggs as if they were their own.
Hunting and feeding the colony
The adults go hunting as more and more young need to be fed. Small ‘bugs,’ caterpillars and other creatures are brought back.
The queen takes the lions’ share of the food brought back, with adults higher up the pecking order also taking more than their fair share. The hunter which brings back the food does not eat its’ catch, rather it is fed to her developing younger sisters.
Paper wasps, for example, group their nests together so when some have to leave the nest to hunt, there will always be others there to keep guard.
The end of the lifecycle
When the wasp nest has produced new queens and they have spun silk caps ready to pupate the nest is then in decline. All nests produce queens at the same time as each other so there are sufficient numbers of drones and queens to successfully mate.
As there are no longer larvae in the nest to feed sugar solution back to the adults, the adults no longer have a source of food and this is when they start looking for alternative food sources. It is this hunt for different food from the one that has sustained them through the summer, that leads them into greater contact with humans, pets etc. This is generally when the problems are at the most severe. Sugary drinks, food, picnic tables etc. become a target for these hungry wasps. This is when they can become a real pest in pub beer gardens, homes, cafes, bakeries etc.
When autumn arrives and the temperatures fall, food diminishes and the remaining adults and old queens die of starvation.
Occasionally a large nest can survive into the winter if sufficient food can be discovered but most of the nests die off.
Damage to property
On the whole wasps cause little damage to property. If you see wasps flying in and out of a fascia, loftspace, gap in the wall etc. it is more likely that the Queen has settled and decided to build a nest in a cavity that already existed.
Their nest itself is made up of ‘wood pulp’ which they get from ‘chewing’ wood and mixing it with their spittle. However there is more than enough materials for them here in the UK to use that are readily found in nature and so building materials and structures within your property are unlikely to be required by them in building a nest.
Your home is unlikely to suffer in the way, for example, the carpenter bee can damage a building which excavates holes in wood fascias or structures to act as a chamber for their eggs.
One exception is the wood wasp which does bore holes, however even these creatures are not without benefits to humans – as surgical probes used in procedures such as brain surgery have been developed based on the natural design of these creatures.
Also wood wasps often bore into trees rather than man-made structures.
Deterring Wasps from your home
Repairing holes and sealing cracks helps to ensure infestations are less likely to occur in the future.
If bees’ nests are left in hot lofts they can melt, leaving a waxy sticky residue which can act as a source of food to wasps and act as an attraction to them. Our professional bees nest removal service can assist by safely removing bees’ nests so they do not melt and attract wasps in this way.
People concerned by wasps appearing in the bath or shower next to them can fit a tight cover to cold water tanks to prevent them getting in and down through the system into your bathroom.
For More About The Negative Impact Wasps Have:
Contact AMES Wasp Control From Anywhere In West Mids, Worcs, Staffs or Warks.Give us a call today: 0121 443 1111. Or send us a message online here.