Winter is a distant memory. The cold grey days are a thing of the past. The lazy hazy days of summer stretch out before you like a soft, bright blanket. You can’t wait to get outside and wrap yourself in the exhilarating fragrances of the summer breezes. The sounds of summer fill your head like a childhood symphony: the splash of the sea, the gentle rustling of the green trees, the crisp chimes of the ice-cream van, the laughter of children playing in the park, the buzzing of… What’s that buzzing beside you?
Unfortunately, the warm summer days bring with them a particularly disruptive pest: wasps!
These are probably the most maligned of pests, because of their cantankerous, aggressive nature and nasty stings. But how much do you know about these persistent summer insects?
When you mention wasps to most people, the first thing they’ll probably think about is painful stings. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to get a wasp sting, you’re unlikely to forget the experience! But exactly what dangers do wasps pose? Let’s consider some common questions.
Do wasps sting or bite?
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that wasps can sting or bite. Their fearsome reputation is certainly deserved.
Some species of wasps bite, though they rarely bite humans. Instead, they usually bite smaller insects.
When wasps want to deter humans, they usually resort to stinging rather than biting. The reason for this is obvious. If you’ve ever been stung, you’ll know how effective this form of attack is. However, do remember that wasps will generally only sting if they feel threatened.
Can wasps sting more than once?
Again, the wasp’s reputation is deserved! If it attacks you, it can sting you many times.
A wasp’s stinger is smooth, like a needle, so it can sting your skin many times. Unlike bees, wasps don’t lose their stingers when they attack.
Do wasps die when they sting you?
Don’t confuse wasps with bees. If a bee stings you, it leaves its stinger in your skin, which leads to the bee’s own death. Wasps, as you now know, are able to retract their stingers from your skin and attack many times if they take a disliking to you.
How do you treat a wasp sting?
The usual reaction to a wasp sting is to scream loudly and jump up and down. However, this perfectly natural reaction is not really going to help your situation!
Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that a wasp has stung you, you need to try to calmly assess the situation. The first thing you’re going to want to do is ensure you’re not having an allergic reaction to sting. If you start to go into shock, seek immediate medical assistance.
If you’re not going into shock, you’re still going to need to take some quick practical steps to protect yourself:
- Clean the sting area
- Apply ice on any swelling
- Use an antiseptic spray or cream to reduce the risk of infection
- Use a painkiller to alleviate the pain, or take an antihistamine to combat any itchiness
Wasps and other pests
People often confuse wasps with other pests. Let’s learn some more about how wasps differ from other insects.
What’s the difference between wasps and hornets?
Did you know that hornets are a type of wasp?
Hornets tend to be much bigger wasps, and are usually black and white, or brownish red. Although many wasps are yellow and black, their colouring depends on the species.
Do wasps make honey?
Let’s say it again: wasps are not bees!
Wasps do drink nectar. However, unlike bees, they don’t convert the nectar into honey. If they want honey, they simply steal if from bee hives.
What’s the difference between wasps and bees?
Did we tell you that wasps are not the same as bees?
Although wasps and bees are different insects, they are both from the Hymenoptera order of insects. However, they are visibly different. Wasps are smooth, slender, almost graceful insects, whereas bees tend to be larger, hairier and, well, less graceful.
The other difference is in their personalities. It won’t surprise you to learn that wasps are more aggressive than bees. Remembers, if a bee stings you, it will die afterwards. So a bee will need to have a pretty compelling reason before it decides to attack you. On the other hand, it takes very little to provoke a wasp! And, if you annoy a wasp, it can sting you many times. Bees seem almost pacifist by comparison!
The life of a wasp
Let’s finish by considering a few more fun facts about wasps!
What do wasps eat?
Each species of wasp has its own particular diet. That being said, the most common wasps tend to like to snack on fruit, sugar, and nectar. Oh, and other insects, of course! Adding to their charm, they also have a taste of dead insects, feeding on the carrion of deal flesh. No wonder you won’t want to invite them to your dinner party.
Do wasps pollinate?
Okay, you’re still confusing them with bees aren’t you?
In general, wasps don’t pollinate. They’re too busy spreading fear and general unpleasantness. That being said, some species of wasps actually do pollinate. Examples of these include Masarinae wasps and fig wasps.
Indeed, fig wasps are essential to fig plants as they are the only insects that pollinate them. Ever grateful, the figs pay the wasp back with food and shelter. This “mutualism” ensures that both the fig and wasps survive. Indeed, when the wasp dies, the fig produces an enzyme that completely digests the former insect. It really is a beautiful friendship!
How long do wasps live?
The answer most people will give is: too long!
Actually, wasps have a fairly short lifespan. Worker wasps (the sterile females) last from 12 to 22 days. Male wasps live longer, carrying out the vital activity of reproduction.
The queen wasp is a hardier insect, usually living to the ripe old age of one year. They start building their new colony in the spring time, and then pass on the following winter.
Need help removing a wasp nest from your home or business? Get in contact with Rentokil today.