Although there are many species of wasps on the planet, pest controllers in Phoenix are largely only concerned with 3 different types of wasps species: the Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris, the German Wasp Vespula germanica, and the Dolichovespula media.
All three species are social nest builders constructing their nests from paper which they make by mixing rotting wood with saliva.
Only the newly hatched queens survive the winter after mating with the males in the autumn. A typical nest will produce around 2000 new queens to overwinter.
They emerge from their hibernation in spring and after feeding commence nest building. The queen will build a small nest around the size of a golf ball in which see lays 15 -20 eggs which hatch into wasp larvae.
The queen then feeds these larvae on insects until they are ready to pupate and metamorphose into adult wasps.
Once the first batch of wasps is hatched, the queen devotes herself to egg-laying and the worker wasps, which are sterile females, take over the enlargement of the nest.
As this process takes time you will not see any wasps other than the queens much before June of each year. Any ‘wasps’ seen before this time will undoubtedly be solitary bees which do bear a passing resemblance to wasps.
By the end of summer and average wasps’ nest will be about the size of a medicine ball can contain 5-10,000 wasps although in good years much larger nests are seen. In autumn the nest begins production of the new queens and the males.
Once this process has finished the worker wasps start to become antisocial as they seek sweet sticky foodstuffs and assume the aggressive behavior which we all associate with wasps in autumn.
With the first of the cold weather the worker wasps and the males all die off and the queens go into hibernation to start the process again the following spring.
The nest itself is then spent and can never be used again. For this reason, it is not necessary to remove a wasps’ nest and pest controllers will leave a nest in-situ rather than risk falling through ceilings, etc. to try and remove it.
Although it is not immediately apparent wasps do quite a bit of natural pest control, their diet being aphids and grubs they do assist the gardener in keeping these pests in check but for many people, their habit of stinging outweighs any benefit.
A wasps’ nest should never be approached as wasps’ are most dangerous in the immediate vicinity of their nests and it is possible to sustain hundreds of stings in a very short period.
For this reason, it is advisable to engage the services of a professional pest controller who will have the necessary protective clothing for the task.
The pest controller will spray a small amount of insecticidal powder into the entrance of the nest and returning wasps will carry it into the nest. Within an hour all the wasps will be dead.