Prevention is key if you want to avoid problems with wasps, especially during the summer months when they are most active.
When an individual social wasp is disturbed or feels threatened, they release a distress signal as a pheromone to alert their colony.
This alerts the other worker wasps that their nest may be under threat.
The wasps will appear as a mass to defend the nest when threatened and to some this gathering can be mistaken for a ‘swarm’ similar to that produced by honey bees, but in truth wasps do not swarm.
It is always easier to prevent a problem before it happens, rather than to wait for wasps to invade your home or garden.
The fear of a wasp sting can be so great that it can prevent some people from going out into their gardens.
It is recommended not to try get rid of a wasps nest yourself as it can be dangerous, as wasps will become aggressive when defending their nest.
Wasps nests may appear abandoned at the end of summer, but once the young Queen wasps have left the nest to hibernate over winter, the worker wasps will eventually die off as the weather turns colder in the Autumn.
The following Spring the Queen wasps will search for suitable locations or sites to build a new nest.
Quite often a Queen will return to the same area where a nest was built previously, simply because it’s the most suitable place, however she will construct a new nest rather than re-use an old one.
Wasp Prevention Tips
Early treatment of a wasp nest will help to keep you and your family safe from painful stings.
Making changes to your behaviour and how you handle food and drink outdoors can also help to deter this stinging pest.
- Check for nests – Check your home and garden in early spring for nests, early on they will be walnut or golf ball in size – early small nests have fewer wasps and are easier to treat quickly. Look for nests in lofts, garages, sheds, cavity walls or under eaves.
- Secure bins – Ensure outside bins have tightly fitting lids. Keep bins at a distance from doors and windows so wasps are not attracted to the contents.
- Keep windows and doors shut – To prevent wasps entering inside your home.
- Keep safe – If you have spotted a nest, make sure you keep children and pets away from the area.
- What you wear – Wearing bright colours or floral patterns will attract wasps as you may look like a flower and they may become curious looking for nectar.
- Avoid Perfumes – Wasps are more attracted to sweeter smells towards the end of summer. Reduce the amount of strong scents and perfumes.
- Remove food sources – Wasps are attracted to protein foods at the end of spring and beginning of summer, so remove any food left outside including pet food.
Towards the end of summer, wasps begin to become attracted by sweet smelling foods. Wasps imprint food sources therefore will continue to search within the same area after food has been removed.
- Birdhouses – Line the under roof of the birdhouse with aluminium foil or rub the under roof with regular soap (one application of this will last the entire wasp season)
- Herbs – Wasps do not like aromatic scents; specifically spearmint, thyme, and eucalyptus. Planting these outside can help repels pest wasps.
Using DIY products
If you already have a problem with wasps, there are some DIY products available, including wasp repellents, which may offer some relief.
- Wait until late evening or night time, when worker and scout wasps have returned to the nest.
- Always wear protective clothing, goggles, gloves and a dust mask when dealing with a wasps nest, however small it may be.
- Use a DIY spray specifically designed for treating wasp nests, such as a wasp nest destroyer foam.
- Carefully read and follow the instructions on the spray can, ensuring you do not stand directly under the nest.
- Once sprayed, leave the nest for a minimum of 24 hours before careful removal – a wasp nest can be very fragile.
- Seal the nest in two thick plastic bags (double bagged) and dispose of it in an outside rubbish bin with a secure lid.
A wasp nest should not be removed directly after being professionally treated with insecticide.
It can take several days for foraging worker wasps to return to the nest.
As wasps return and enter the nest they will also be contaminated by the treatment and die off, thus ensuring the whole colony is effectively treated.
You should never try to treat a nest on your own, especially if you think you are allergic to insect stings.