We got our first wasp extermination call of the season today.
Must be time for a post on the why's and what's of wasps, because they could be a big problem this season.
You must have noticed........it's starting to warm up. This means the queen wasps are coming out of hibernation and looking for a place to build their new nests. Once she's established she'll start laying up to 100 eggs a day.......and the next thing you know it's the middle of Summer and you've got a wasps nest with between 3,000 and 6,000 wasps spoiling your good old Kiwi barbecue.
As a rule, wasps don't return to the same place year after year, however they do prefer some particular habitats. If you get a wasp nest every year, take a look around your roof, does it get sun all day? Does it have lots of gaps for wasps to get in? Is there plenty of wood around your home (think fences, garden furniture, decks) to use as nest building material? Hmmmm, I think I've just described the majority of Auckland's homes!!! No wonder it's such a huge part of our Summer business.
The two types of calls we usually get are;
1. Nuisance wasps in the garden (where the nest can't be found).
2. An active wasp nest on the property.
Nuisance wasps don't necessarily mean you have an active wasps nest nearby. It is more likely that there are trees or bushes that provide a sugar based liquid food such as nectar that the adult wasps can feed on. Wasps are swarm feeders. If a foraging wasp has found a food source, it'll shoot back to the nest and recruit all it's mates to join in feeding......so in a very short space of time one wasp can become hundreds.
Another possible reason for lots of wasps is them foraging for nesting material by stripping wood from fences, decks and furniture. Although this usually means a nest is nearby. If you think that a nest is present, stand and watch for a few minutes. This is normally enough to establish flight paths and determine where the main activity is coming from.
Larger wasp nests have quite a bit of traffic coming and going, so should be easy to spot. The best places to look are;
- Gaps in the foundation walls, like the ventilation openings, weep holes, trap doors.
- The guttering and edges of roofing.
- The base of thick shrubs like flax or agapanthus and tree trunks or stumps
This basic visual inspection will normally be enough to establish if a nest is present.
OK so we've located the nest. What do we do now? We're kiwis so a good old D.I.Y. home remedy is an option.....or not. If you're thinking of blocking the entrance or setting fire to it I've got one word for you....NO!
Do not block the entrance to a wasps nest. The wasps will get agitated and immediately start trying to find another way in and more importantly.....OUT! Wasps in properties that have their exits blocked will chew their way out, usually to the inside of the house. Now we've got a problem and what should have been an easy extermination now becomes much more difficult.
Also, please don't set fire to the nest or nest entrance. You may kill a few, but you will set off their defensive mechanism and people are going to get stung. During the day, most of the wasps are out foraging so setting fire to the nest won't kill them. When they get back they'll get confused about where their home is and as their numbers steadily build they'll become a worse problem than before.
You could try a D.I.Y. wasp treatments from the local hardware. Some of these are effective but you will need to be able to see the entrance to the nest and you're going to have to get close. If you don't have the correct protective clothing, doing this can result in a serious attack. Aggressive German wasps will attack you just for being within 10m of their nest.
The best option is a professional pest controller. We apply a powder to the entrance of the nest that will kill the wasps in the nest as well as the foraging wasps as they return to the nest. Once the nest has been treated and the wasps exterminated we recommend you leave it in place. The nest was built there because it was a good place. Wasps don't re-use old nests. If you remove a treated nest, the location becomes free for another queen to build a nest another year. Also, other nests nearby will know the location of the treated nest and will investigate from time to time to see if there is an opportunity to raid it. When they enter the treated nest they will come in contact with the powder and occasionally enough is taken back to the neighbouring nest to kill that one as well.
The team at Bug King/Chimney King
p.s. If you've got a problem honey bee nest/swarm, contact the local bee-keepers association. They will usually relocate it for free.