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Wasp, bee and hornet knowledge base

Info and answers to FAQ's about wasps: page 4


If you have a wasp nest that needs treating and you are also aware that you have bats roosting in your property, please inform your local pest controller of this situation. Each pest controller will evaluate the job and check for the presence of bats before undertaking any treatment. If bats are found to be present, it may be the case that your nest cannot legally be treated, this is due to the protection afforded to bats.

What happens if i have knocked the nest down?

If you took upon yourself to knock down a wasp nest before it was treated, it is highly unlikely that a pest controller will come out and clean up your mess. The wasps will not disappear and fly away, they have nowhere else to go too. It is likely that they will rebuild the nest or just continue to build onto it where it is now.

How many wasps in a nest?

Each nest varies in size, but some larger common wasp nests can hold up to 10,000 individuals at the peak of summer, however nests of such size are uncommon. The average nest holds between 3-6000 individuals in the peak of summer.
German wasp nests are much smaller with normally only a few hundred individual wasps, but they can sometimes grow much lager and house over 1000.
The limiting factor is not cold weather killing the nest, but lack of food as winter starts. Adult wasps feed on sugar based liquid food such as nectar or similar food sources, as winter approaches these food sources end and the wasps starve.
Hornets are much the same as German wasps but Hornet nests are much larger in size, normally housing just a few hundred individual Hornets at peak time.

What does a Hornets nest look like?

A hornet nest is very similar looking to a normal wasp nest, generally grey or light brown in colour with swirl patterns over it. It is made from chewed wood which has been stripped from fence panels and garden sheds etc. A hornet nest is usually slightly larger than a wasp nest and has a larger entrance at the bottom of the nest. Often the inner part of a hornet nest is visible with the cells showing. The breeding cells within a hornet nest are slightly larger than those found in a wasp nest.

How do wasps make their nests?

Wasps make their nests by stripping dead wood from various places, their favourite being fence panels, wooden garden furniture, sheds etc. They transport this material back to the nest where they transfer it to the young wasp larvae. These young wasps mix the wood material with saliva and wax to produce a paste which is then handed back to the adults which use this paste to construct the nest.
The nest can be made to fit any void or shape. Wasp nests do not have to be the traditional football shape as seen in most photos. In fact they can be long and flat and are often in the cavity of a wall.
Most wasp nests have swirl type marks in them, these patterns are formed when the individual wasps construct the nest.
More information on how wasps build their nests

How do I tell the difference between a bee nest and a wasp nest?

The best way to distinguish between bees and wasps is the numbers!
If you have a honey bee colony living in your home, there will be thousands of them. Honey bees will congregate around the nest entrance and you will also see them bringing pollen into the nest, pollen will be visible as yellow coloured balls on their legs.
Bumble bees tend to fly around outside the entrance almost as if they are lost, not quite certain where the entrance is. Bumble bees are large furry and black with a couple of pronounced stripes across their abdomen.
Wasps arrive at the nest with a purpose, they are normally very accurate and go straight into the nest and do not mass around the nest entrance unless the nest has been tampered with.
Take a look at what a honey bee nest looks like

How long do wasps live?

The nest starts in the spring around April time and will survive through till late autumn. So the question “how long do wasps live” is answered twice. Wasps will be alive from spring right through till late autumn/winter.
Each nest varies and will die off at different times depending on their location and the amount of food available within the area.
Individual wasps can live for several months, but often they are predated on by other insects, only the queen lives throughout the whole year.
The queen wasp only lives for one year, hatched in autumn and hibernated through winter then once she has built her nest in spring and ruled for one summer she will die, not before producing next years queens.
Check our pages on the wasp life-cycle to see how wasps reproduce

What does queen wasp look like?

A queen wasp is slightly larger than a standard "worker" wasp.
Normally queen wasps and hornets will only be seen in the spring and then late summer/autumn when new queens leave the nest after hatching. Often people have problems with "large" wasps coming into the house in late autumn/winter as the temperature drops, these are queen wasps are looking for somewhere to hibernate.
Take a look at our images of queen wasps

How soon can I go into a loft after treatment?

This depends on which treatment has been used, but generally most pest controllers use a dust type insecticide called Ficam D. If this treatment has been used, it is usually safe to enter your loft after a couple hours, but to be safe we always advise customers to wait a full day after treatment, this will ensure that all foraging wasps have returned to the nest and had time to come in contact with the treatment and have died off. Ficam D treatments kill all the adult wasps. Occasionally there are still some wasp grubs alive for a day or so after treatment but these are harmless and cannot sting or fly.

Are wasp larvae dangerous?

Wasp larvae are not dangerous. They are maggot like and are confined to their cells. If they fall out of these cells they cannot move about in the same fashion as normal maggots. They cannot sting or fly.

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