Spring time. It is time for the grass to turn green and the trees and flowers to emerge from winter’s cold embrace. The beauty and relief of spring is accompanied by a multitude of other “awakenings”…including insects. It’s at this time of year that we start to notice little critters buzzing around the eaves of our homes, deck patios, or the swing sets in back yards. While these buzzing creatures could be one of several notable guests in Minneapolis, one in particular frequents our living areas. They get mistaken for several of their close family members but they have distinct characteristics and habits that make them identifiable to the “regular Joe.” The buzzing guest I am referring to is the paper wasp.
So, how can you tell a paper wasp from the many other wasp and bee species that reside in the Minneapolis Metro? First, in general, wasps appear to be smooth skinned and shiny. The body of a wasp is slender with a narrow waist and cylinder-like legs. The naked eye characteristics of a paper wasp are not much different than that of other wasps and hornets. What distinguishes them from the rest is the type of nest they build, and where they build it. Paper wasps make nests from a papery pulp comprised of chewed-up wood fibers mixed with saliva. Their nests are typically a tannish grey color. They are located on a horizontal surface such as the eaves of a home, a tree branch, beam supports in an attic or other structures. What separates the paper wasp from other wasps or hornets is the structure of the nest. Paper wasps build a nest with open combs that are open to the environment. Other wasps and hornets build nests that are tiered and have a paper covering.
Paper wasps, unlike other wasps and hornets, are not typically aggressive unless they feel that their nest is being threatened. Most times a sting from a paper wasp is the result of an accidental jaunt into nest territory by an unsuspecting victim. Paper wasps are considered a beneficial pest by most gardeners. They feed on nectar and other unbeneficial pests like caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae. They like to build nests and reside in places that are undisturbed. Despite their desire to be left alone, the paper wasps ideal environment inevitably comes into conflict with the human environment regularly.
The best time of year to control a paper wasp is spring and early summer. Early spring brings surviving queen wasps out of hibernation and in search of a place to make the summer nest. Finding, treating, and removing a paper wasp nest in its infancy is the ideal way to control paper wasps from becoming a further nuisance this summer and in summers to come. Your Rove technician is specially trained to find, identify, treat and remove paper wasps from your living area…and not get stung!