Wasp stings are common, especially during the warmer months when people are outside for longer periods of time. Wasp stings can be uncomfortable, but most people recover quickly and without complications. They are quite dangerous however, especially for those who suffer allergic reactions such as swelling, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Wasps, like bees and hornets, are equipped with a stinger as a means of self-defence. A wasp’s stinger contains venom that’s transmitted to humans during a sting. While a bee can only sting once because its stinger becomes stuck in the skin of its victim, a wasp can sting more than once during an attack, as their stingers remain intact.
Generally, wasps create nests around houses, in the hollow of a tree, a roof or another shady spot. However, they can also enter houses in three major situations:
- When they have a nest built near openings that lead inside the house, in wall voids and attic spaces;
- When they seek protected, interior spaces in which to overwinter;
- When they just happened to get in through an open door or window or become “hitchhikers” who are accidentally brought inside the house.
Preventive measures for keeping wasps away
Prevention is key if you want to avoid problems with wasps, especially during the summer months when they are most active. It is always easier to prevent a problem before it happens, rather than to wait for wasps to invade your home or garden. The fear of a wasp sting can become so great, that it can prevent some people from even going outdoors. By modifying the landscape around your house, you will be able to prevent the occurrence of wasp nests around your house and yard and also by making changes to your behavior and how you handle food and drink outdoors can help to deter this stinging pest:
- As they are usually attracted by shady and protected areas, ensure that no open spaces can be found in nearby trees or other hollow areas on the outside of your house;
- Remove fallen fruit from the trees as rotten fruit attracts them;
- Treat exposed wood from the trees in your yard and garden, as it can reduce wasp activity around them;
- Sealing any holes, cracks or crevices along concrete driveways, window sills or any other hollow entry point can reduce the possibility of a ground nest;
- Wasps imprint food sources, so they will continue to search an area for some time after the food has been removed;
- Keep pet food tightly sealed, especially if you are storing in outside;
- When eating outside, cover sweet drinks and proteins as they are attractants for wasps;
- Make sure your garbage cans are tightly sealed;
- Keep bins at a distance from doors and windows so wasps are not attracted to the contents and then enter your home by mistake;
- Check your home and garden in early spring for nests, early on they will be walnut or golf ball in size;
- Observe the flight path of a wasp, especially in the morning, which may reveal the entry/exit point;
- Limit the number of plants with pollen, as bees and wasps are attracted to nectar found in flowers.
- Avoid dressing in bright colors or color of flowers as this attracts wasps;
- Check areas where you see a crowd of bees/wasps as they could be just manufacturing a nest;
- Avoid squashing or swatting wasps, as when a wasp is squashed, a chemical (pheromone) is released which attracts and incites other nearby wasps
- Minimize use of perfumes and other strong scents. In the later part of the summer, wasps are attracted to sweet smells;
- To prevent them from forming nests near bird houses, line the under-roof area with aluminum foil or scrub it with a bar of soap, as this will keep them away.
If there is a group of wasps congregating in your yard, try to figure out what is drawing them. The first step in making sure they are not drawn to your yard is to make sure they have no place to build their nest and no food source. This is important no matter what type of pest you are dealing with.
Depending on the area they develop, wasps can be considered beneficial as they prey mainly on other insects, many of which are pests. In general, they avoid human activity and should only be considered a nuisance when nesting near homes or high traffic areas.
If an infestation does occur, there are a variety of effective wasp control methods. If you decide that the nest is in a bad location and needs to be removed, check out the steps presented in our relevant article about ‘How to get rid of Wasps‘. Pesticide methods, alongside natural eradicating ones, can be found described in detail. Make sure you are thoroughly prepared when taking on a wasp infestation, as a series of wasp stings can become very dangerous. Although they are beneficial to gardens, wasps are also considered dangerous and unwelcome guests, so learning how to properly prevent and how to successfully eliminate an infestation is very important.