The temptations of the brief British summertime, with it’s lighter (and sometimes warmer) evenings, the rare opportunities for al fresco dining, picnics in the park or a refreshing drink in the pub beer garden, bring us all into the great outdoors, to be confronted by those summer pests… WASPS.
No one likes the idea of being stung, and for those people, who are allergic to insect stings, it can be a life threatening situation. However, it’s not always easy to identify exactly what is buzzing around.
The bright yellow and black striping associated with wasps and hornets is a warning pattern used as a deterrent, but these patterns are mimicked by other insects to take advantage of the effect of appearing ‘wasp like’. Hover-flies, day moths (like the Ash Borer) and some nectar feeding beetles are examples of insects that find pretending to be wasp like helps keep predators away.
So how do we look beyond the black & yellow stripes to identify the real stingers from the pretend ones? The wasps most often found in the UK are Common or Social wasps and German wasps. They have two pairs of wings, with the hind wings being smaller than the fore wings. Wasps are less hairy than bees. Wasp’s bodies are also more pointed than bees, with quite a noticeable waist. Hornets (or yellow jackets) look very similar to wasps, they are just bigger in size.
A wasp trapped indoors can be dealt with using a wasp & fly killer spray. If however, there are a large number of wasps in your home or garden there is likely to be a wasp’s nest nearby. To locate the nest, watch the flight path of the returning insects, if the wasps nest appears to be near your home, keep doors and windows closed. If the nest is difficult to access or if you are in any doubt about dealing with a wasps nest, always seek professional, expert help.
Finally, why not visit UKWaspWatch and add your sighting by tweeting the hashtag #ukwaspwatch and your postcode to help our wasp watch campaign.
On the site you’ll find lots of helpful advice on preventing and treating stings, dealing with wasps and wasp phobia on the site. We need you to help track UK wasp activity this summer to build a clearer picture of where these pests are causing a nusiance.