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Habitat

They are social insects, forming colonies inside nests specially constructed in soil banks, roof spaces, and in cavities in trees and walls.

 

Biology
The fertilised queen wasp emerges from hibernation and searches for a suitable site for her colony. She makes an initial ‘cell’, which is smaller than a golf ball.

Biology (continued)

Within individual chambers inside this cell she lays between 10 and 20 eggs. The first brood of adult workers takes over the task of enlarging the nest and providing food. By late summer the normal wasps nest will contain from 3000 to 5000 individuals. During the latter part of the summer sterilised queens fly away to select wintering sites. The onset of cold weather kills off all the workers and the males, with only the fertilised queens surviving hibernation, to start new colonies in the following spring.

Pest Status

Although wasps visit dustbins, waste depots, and dead animals bodies (carrion) and therefore may possibly spread disease, they are mainly known for their nuisance value late summer. Wasps in the earlier part of the year are too busy collecting insects to be a nuisance. Insects are caught in flight and have their wings bitten off by the string mandibles of the worker wasps.

 

Later in the season they can become a significant nuisance in homes, bakeries, fruiterers, and especially in jam and sweet factories they can also sting, a habit which increases as the insects become more irritable with the inset of cooler weather.

Control

Wasps are generally easy to control using a number of commercial products if access to the nest, or near the nest area can be gained. Control of adults in flight alone is unlikely to exert significant control of an active social colony.

 

The main aim should be to disable the nest by applying a residual insecticide to the nest entrance or nearby alighting area. Wasps entering the area should contact a dose of insecticide which will prove lethal over a period of time, enabling the inside if the nest to become contaminated.

 

Other Species

 
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