Have you ever been stung by a wasp? Believe me, it’s an unforgettably painful experience. That’s why the sight of wasps and their nests strike fear into the heart of even the bravest homeowner. If you know – or simply suspect – your house might be harboring a wasp nest, find out what to do to protect yourself and your family.
Wasp and Wasp Nest ID
First off, don’t confuse wasps with bees. Both are flying, buzzing creatures, usually black and yellow in color. However, wasps have smooth, sleek bodies with narrow waists, unlike bees, which are fuzzy and stockier in their proportions.
Their homes are quite different as well. Beehives, built from stacked cells of beeswax, are frequently visible in hollow trees, or in the walls, eaves or floors of unoccupied buildings.
By contrast, a wasp nest is papery, generally with a round or oval shape. Although wasps are less shy of human beings than bees, a wasp nest will tend to be in a hidden spot – inside your porch roof soffit, under the deck, or even in a hole in your attic. You may not even be able to see the actual wasp nest but watch carefully … and you’re likely to notice wasps coming and going from the entrance.
When to Remove a Wasp Nest
If the wasp nest is far away from your house, leave it alone. As predators, wasps actually eat agricultural pests like aphids, caterpillars, grubs, and weevils. They can benefit your garden in a second, little-known way as well – they’re pollinators!
You probably don’t want a wasp nest close to home, though. These insects respond to a threat – such as your hand trying to brush them away – with a wasp sting. Unlike bees, wasps are capable of stinging multiple times and will even signal other wasps to come and join in the fray. (Yikes!) The results are incredibly painful.
Once wasp season is finished (it lasts from early May to the end of October), don’t bother to get rid of any wasp nest on your property. Wasps do not reuse their old nests the next year.
How-To: Wasp Nest Removal and Other Solutions
Removing a wasp nest is a tricky and potentially dangerous operation, especially in late summer through the fall, when the nest may contain as many as 5000 aggressive insects. Better to be safe than sorry, particularly if anyone in your household has a wasp sting allergy.
Contact a reliable pest control professional, who has the knowhow and the equipment to treat your wasp nest problem quickly and efficiently, without endangering you, your children, pets, or garden produce.
In addition to wasp nest removal, there are several other solutions:
- Spraying the nest with natural insecticide or soapy water
- Drowning the nest and its occupants
- Trapping the wasps
- Hanging an artificial wasp nest to discourage future nest construction
Wasp Sting First Aid
A wasp sting is painful for anyone (and often continues to hurt for 2-5 days), but for the 2 million Americans who are allergic to wasp venom, it can be life-threatening. Serious wasp sting reactions sometimes include rash, swelling, sudden drop in blood pressure, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
If you’re sure that the person affected does NOT have a wasp sting allergy and their reaction is relatively mild, follow these treatment tips:
- Remove the stinger with the edge of a credit card.
- Take off any tight-fitting jewelry, in case the stung area swells.
- Wash the wasp sting with soap and water, to get rid of remaining venom.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Take an anti-inflammatory for pain and an antihistamine against itching.
For a patient who is definitely -- or even possibly -- allergic to wasp stings:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Inject the person with epinephrine, if available.
- Have them examined ASAP by emergency medical personnel.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.