In general wasps are regarded as a nuisance pest and a threat to health. Many people have a genuine phobia, in some cases with good reason. Wasp stings may be unpleasant to most of us, but to some they can prove fatal.
The best treatment for non-allergic people is to wash the site of the sting with soap and water and apply an antihistamine preparation.
Insect venoms can produce allergic reactions of two types:
- Respiratory obstruction or
- Anaphylactic shock syndrome. This causes vascular collapse – breathing becomes shallow, the pulse is almost undectable, there is profuse sweating and the victim quickly loses consciousness.
Death from wasp stings is rapid, 66% of susceptible victims die within one hour of being stung.
Young queens emerge in the spring, feeding on nectar and sap. They begin to construct their new nest from wasp paper (a mixture of chewed wood, plant debris and saliva).
The first batch of eggs are produced in a few days and larvae develop within the nest. Four to six weeks later, the first generation of workers emerge, they are all female – male wasps emerge later in the season. Workers then take over ongoing nest construction. The queen spends all her time egg laying. By the end of the summer, a nest may house over 20,000 wasps! With the onset of autumn, new males emerge to fertilise new queens who go on to search for hibernation sites. During the winter months, the old queen and workers die and the nest will not be reused.
Control & Treatment
The surest way to treat wasps is by destroying the nest. Ideally nests should be treated early or late in the day when wasp activity is at a minimum and the nest is likely to contain a higher population.