I have found a wasp nest, what do i do?
Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris)
Please feel free to call Merlin Estates office at the first sign of a wasp’s nest within your property and we will instruct our Pest Control Officer to attend as quickly as possible. It is a fairly simple task to deal with and takes just a few seconds to eradicate the nest with the correct chemical.
If left, the nests can grow huge and be very destructive to properties. They have a liking for paper materials that they use for nest building. If you think you may have one present in your shed, garage, roof rafters, or attic, just listen quietly and you will hear a constant annoying tapping sound. In addition, watch to see if you can spot a constant flow of wasps coming out of a small crevice. Once the nest has been treated you will need to fill any small gaps you may have in and around the area, particularly within the roof void.
If you discover a nest in your back garden, garden shed or garage, then we urge you to leave well alone and leave this to the experts to deal with as some people have an allergic reaction to wasps called anaphylactic shock syndrome. Anaphylactic shock syndrome is extremely dangerous and causes the closure of air ways which can be fatal. If you see anyone having medical problems however slight please call 999 immediately. In serious cases check all hand bags and brief cases for emergency injections as severe suffers will often carry emergency lifesaving drugs to be administered to them under these circumstances.
The German Wasp (Vespula germanica)
The German wasp is about 13mm (0.5 inch) long, and has typical wasp colours of black and yellow. It is very similar to the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris), but seen head on, its face has three tiny black dots. German wasps also have black dots on their abdomen, while the common wasp's analogous markings are fused with the black rings above them, forming a different pattern. The three dots on the German wasp's face distinguish it from the Common wasp.
The nest is made from chewed plant fibres, mixed with saliva. They are generally found close to or in the ground, rather than higher up on bushes and trees like hornets. It has open cells and a petiole attaching the nest to the substrate. The wasps produce a chemical which repels ants, and secrete it around the base of this petiole in order to avoid ant predation.
A solitary female queen starts the nest, building 20–30 cells before initial egg-laying. This phase begins in spring, depending on climatic conditions. She fashions a petiole and produces a single cell at the end of it. Six further cells are then added around this to produce the characteristic hexagonal shape of the nest cells. Once the larvae have hatched as workers, they take up most of the colony’s foraging, brood care and nest maintenance. A finished nest may be 20–30 cm across and contain 3,000 individuals.
Each wasp colony includes one queen and a number of sterile workers. Colonies usually last only one year, all but the queen dying at the onset of winter. However, in mild climates such as New Zealand, around 10% of the colonies survive the winter. New queens and males (drones) are produced towards the end of the summer, and after mating, the queen overwinters in a crack or other sheltered location. This common and widespread wasp collects insects including caterpillars to feed to its larvae, and is therefore generally beneficial. The adults feed on nectar and sweet fruit, and are also attracted to human food and food waste, particularly sodas and meats.
The nests are subject to predation by the Honey Buzzard, which excavates them to obtain the larva. The hoverfly Volucella pellucens and some of its relatives lay their eggs in the wasp's nest, and the larva feeds on the wasp's young.
This species is considered a pest in most areas outside its native range, though its long residency in North America is such that it is not treated with any level of urgency there, in contrast to areas such as South America, where the introduction is more recent, and the impacts far more dramatic, prompting a greater degree of concern over control measures
Along with the closely related common wasp and two species of Polistes, the German wasp is likewise considered to be a pest in New Zealand. It was probably introduced in the late 19th century, but did not appear in large numbers until around 1940. It is common in the beech forest since it is one of the two wasps that feed on the honeydew exuded by the native beech scale insect which lives in the bark of the trees. It has a serious effect on the forest ecology since there is less honeydew available for the native birds. In domestic situations nests have been known to become very large, sometimes taking up entire attic spaces in houses. This is put down to the comparatively mild winters experienced in New Zealand, as opposed to the wasp's usual European habitat.
An unusual attempt at wasp control is related from Abercairney in Scotland, where until the 1950s children were encouraged to compete in the Wasp Cup, awarded to the competitor who handed in the most queen wasps. The wasps were stuck to card and a payment of 1d was made for each; totals of forty were not uncommon.
Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris)
The common wasp, Vespula vulgaris is a yellow jacket wasp found in much of the Northern Hemisphere and introduced to Australia and New Zealand. It is a Eusocial Vespid which builds its grey paper nest in or on a structure capable of supporting it. Underground it often uses an abandoned mammal hole as a foundation for the site which is then enlarged by the workers. The founders queen may also select a hollow tree, wall cavity or rock crevice for a nest site.
Adult workers of the common wasp measure about 12–17 millimetres (0.47–0.67 in) from head to abdomen, whereas the queen is about 20 millimetres (0.79 in) long. It has aposematic colours of black and yellow and is very similar to the German wasp (or European wasp, Vespula Germanica) but seen head on, its face lacks the three black dots characteristic of that species. Additionally it can be distinguished by a lack of black dots on its back (Gastral Terga), which are located further up and form part of the black rings on each of the abdomen's six segments. Furthermore the genial area – the part of the head to which the jaws of an insect are attached – is usually broken by black (although sometimes narrowly).
Common wasps are colloquially known as "Jaspers" in South East England and more commonly the English Midlands, although it is not clear whether the etymology refers to the Latin name "Vespa" or the striped abdomen, which echoes the striped mineral jasper.
Nest and life cycle
Common wasp nest with outer surface removed to show the combs of cells separated by petioles Larval cells — the covered cells contain larvae undergoing metamorphosis. The nest is made from chewed wood fibres mixed with saliva. It has open cells and a cylindrical column known as a "petiole" attaching the nest to the substrate. The wasps produce a chemical which repels ants and secrete it around the base of the petiole in order to avoid ant predation. A solitary female queen starts the nest, building 20–30 cells before initial egg-laying. This phase begins in spring, depending on climatic conditions. She fashions a petiole and produces a single cell at the end of it. Six further cells are then added around this to produce the characteristic hexagonal shape of the nest cells. One egg is laid in each cell and as it hatches each larva holds itself in the vertical cell by pressing its body against the sides. The queen now divides her time between feeding the larvae on the juices of masticated insects and nest building. Once the larva reaches full size it spins a cover over the cell, pupates and metamorphosis’s into an adult. When enough adult workers have emerged they take up most of the colony’s foraging, brood care and nest maintenance. The queen, who is now fed by the workers, concentrates all her energy on reproduction. The spherical nest is built from the top downwards with successive combs of cells separated by petioles. The queen larvae, known as "Gynes", are reared in larger cells in the lower combs. The finished nest may contain 5,000–10,000 individuals.
Each wasp colony includes one queen and a number of sterile workers. Colonies usually last only one year, with all but the queen dying at the onset of winter. New queens and males (drones) are produced towards the end of the summer, and after mating, the queen overwinters in a hole or other sheltered location, sometimes in buildings. Wasp nests are not reused from one year to the next, however, in the mild climate of New Zealand and Australia, a few of the colonies may survive the winter, although this is much more common with the German wasp.
This common wasp collects insects including caterpillars to feed to its larvae; the adults feed on nectar and sweet fruit. Common wasps will also attempt to invade honey bee nests to steal their honey; the bees will attempt to defend their nest by stinging the wasp to death.
Common wasps are subject to predation by the Honey Buzzard which excavates the nests to obtain the larva. Wasps have a tendency to build nests near occupied houses, however, they are not overly defensive of their nest and can often be approached without initiating an attack.
The hoverfly Volucella Pellucens and some of its relatives lay their eggs in a wasp nest and their larvae feed on the wasps’ young and dead adults. Spiders are yet another predator of this and many other species. There was found Varroa destructor (Jacobsoni) on larvae of this species in Poland (1988).
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