Wasps can be useful as they feed their grubs on insects and flies and help pollinate flowers.
Wasps are related to bees and ants. There are seven species in Britain including hornets. The two species most commonly found are the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and the German Wasp (Vespula germanica).
The queen emerges from her winter hibernation and begins to look for a suitable nesting site. When she has found one, she begins to build her nest with a papery material that she makes by chewing small pieces of wood with saliva.
The nest consists of a canopy under which there is a stalk to which tiers of cells are attached.
The openings of the cells face downwards and, as she lays an egg in each completed cell, the queen sticks it in place. When the grubs have hatched from the eggs the queen will feed them until they are ready to pupate.
By about the beginning of July enough adult workers have emerged from the cells to take over the duties of nest building and feeding the grubs. The queen then stays in the nest and devotes herself entirely to egg laying. Eventually a colony might consist of several thousand wasps.
This is the time of year when males and young queens are produced, the males fertilise the queens and, with the remaining workers, die. The queens fly off to find hibernating quarters in dry protected places such as sheds.
The queens hibernate throughout the winter to emerge in the spring. Old nests are not reused but a specially favourable site may be used again to build a new nest.
People are often frightened of wasps because of their painful stings, but in fact most species rarely sting unless disturbed or annoyed.
Treatment of Stings
The effects of wasp stings usually last only a few hours. A soothing lotion containing calamine may be helpful in reducing pain.
Medical assistance should be sought for stings in the mouth or throat.
An extremely small number of people are very sensitive to wasp stings. They will always need immediate medical attention.
If you have a problem regarding wasps please contact the Council's contractor, Pestclear, on 01255 433999. N.B. This is a chargeable service, visit the Pest Control home page for details of the current charge.