Whether you are hanging out at Beals preserve or your front yard, wasps are going to find you in Southborough. If you want to get control of these flying pests, you have to start with understanding their biology and habits. Here is what you need to know about wasps in Southborough.

stinging pest

Terminology

The most commonly used terms in the world of flying, stinging insects incudes:

  • wasp
  • hornet
  • bee

While most people simply know that they don’t want anything to sting them, the most important distinction is between bee and wasp. The true differentiator between wasps and bees is in the hair configuration. Bee hairs branch out in a feather pattern while wasp hairs are just straight hairs. This is what makes bees such efficient pollinators. Unfortunately, this distinction requires about 20x magnification.

Fortunately, there are some generalizations that can help where proper identification is not possible. Wasps tend to be narrower at the waist than bees. Also, wasps tend to be much smoother and less hairy in appearance. More importantly, they differ in lifestyle and behavior. Bees such as bumblebees and honey bees are key pollinators while wasps tend to be more aggressive and live a predatory lifestyle. As far as differentiating between wasp and hornet, it is easiest to go with wasp since hornets are a classification of wasps. Hornets are distinguished by their size, the top margin of the head, and the rounded segment of the abdomen.

Biology

Wasps begin in the spring with a fertilized female. She comes out of her overwintering site, builds the nest, and the colony expands from there. Wasps undergo complete metamorphosis meaning they develop as egg -> larvae -> pupa -> adult. The adults of many wasp species hunt for food that they bring back to the larvae. The motivation for this behavior is the larvae provide the adults with a sweet secretion. Other wasps have paralyzing venom that allows them to enclose an arthropod with a developing egg so the larva has some live food when it hatches. While most wasps have wings and fly, not all do. The velvet ant is technically a wasp and has no wings and cannot fly.

Benefits of Stinging Pests

  • Control other insects – as a predatory insect, they help keep populations of other arthoropods in check
  • Help pollinate – although they are not as efficient of pollinators as bees because of their different habits and lack of hair, they do contribute to pollination
  • Yeast – wasps pick up yeast from late-season grapes and help carry it forward through the winter to the next spring’s grape crop.
  • Invention – we have the paper wasp to thank for the inspiration for paper. Observation of wasps hundreds of years ago showed how wood could be turned into the host of beneficial paper products we enjoy today.
  • Trainable – wasps can be trained using classical conditioning to do things such as detect explosives.

Nests

Nests are typically made out of either Papier-mâché or mud. Mud nests can be found stuck to walls under the protection of soffits or even inside of attics or other protective voids (both man-made and natural). Paper and comb based nests may be umbrella style hanging in the eaves, larger enveloped nests attached to buildings or built into bushes or trees, or underground in abandoned rodent dens or other hollows. Knowing the type of wasp present can hele indicate where to hunt for the nest. For example, the black and white bald-faced hornets build their nests into bushes and trees. There are other wasps that will dig individual holes for nesting sites.

wasp nest

Wasp Identification

Identification starts with separating bees from wasps by the hair configuration. After that, wasps are identified by the following characteristics:

  • Fringe present or absent on wings
  • Pronotum lengh (reaching/not reaching base of forewing)
  • Jugal lobe presence
  • Abdominal segment shape
  • Pedicel length and shape
  • Markings and bandings
  • Coloration

In addition to the distinctions in the body parts of the individual wasps, a lot can be determined by the type of nest they build and where they build it. If you are having a hard time identifying the type of wasp you are dealing with, a proximate identification can typically be determined with limited information.

Treating Stings

Getting stung by a wasp is less than a pleasant experience. A typical reaction will include a raised welt around the site of the sting. There is oftentimes a small white spot where the stinger initially penetrated the skin. Depending on the type of wasp and venom, this may include some numbness or tingling. Swelling usually subsides within a few hours. In some cases, people have allergic reactions that can lead to larger local reactions such as larger redness and/or swelling. These types of reactions may include non-localized reactions such as nausea or vomiting. Large local reactions may take a few days to a week to subside.

A severe allergic reaction may include anaphylaxis and symptoms such as swelling in the face, throat, or lips. Airway interference or wheezing and gasping may occur. Itchiness and hives may crop up in areas unrelated to the sting site. Reactions may affect pulse or blood pressure which can lead to dizziness/lightheadedness or even a loss of consciousness. The digestive system may also respond with nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or vomiting.

For normal to moderate reactions, wash and clean the sting site thoroughly and apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling. It is important to keep the wound clean so it does not become infected. A bandage may make this easier. In some cases, applying vinegar to the sting site can help neutralize a wasp sting. If reactions are severe, it is important to seek medical care where treatment may include application of an EpiPen, CPR, oxygen, steroidal treatments, medication to assist with breathing, etc.

Wasp Control

Control measures for wasps include:

  • Habitat modification
  • Food source reduction (this includes pests they may feed on as well as proteins or sugars that may come from human food)
  • Nest removal
  • Exclusion
  • Trapping
  • Baiting
  • Dust application
  • Sprays

Combinations of methods improve the efficacy of wasp control. It is not unlike wasps to be persistent and try to reestablish themselves after initial efforts. Even if the entire colony is taken care of, the conditions that attracted the first colony may invite the next, so it is important to stay on top of the wasp control efforts. Rove Pest Control are experts in the matter, give us a call today.