Avoid paying call out charges for false wasp nest identification
Between April and June every year literally hundreds if not thousands of home owners and businesses are calling pest control companies to deal with falsely identified wasp nests. Save your hard earned money and don’t call out a pest control company unless you know that you absolutely need to.
We’ve written this guide almost verbatim from the numerous telephone conversations we have on the subject. Maybe this can help you. Needless to say as Spring progresses into Summer, real wasp nests will start to get built so take into account the time of year when you are reading this article. Should you discover a real wasp nest then consider booking a wasp nest treatment.
Case No.1 – Queen Wasps
“Im finding big wasps in my house. Can you come and deal with my wasp nest.”
The wasp life cycle reignites when Queen wasps emerge from hibernation each year (only Queen wasps hibernate). Once woken up by warmer weather in the spring, the new young Queens start investigating their surroundings and go on the look out for potential nesting sites. More often than not, the new queens can be found in upstairs landings, bedrooms and bathrooms. This is because they often hibernate in roof spaces or attics over the winter and emerge in the nearby rooms in the spring. They can also be found in conservatories and other light rooms as they attempt to go outside to flourish.
It is not uncommon to find several queens over several days in similar locations which gives the home owner cause for alarm. They then can often incorrectly assume that a wasp nest must be present.
“So what can I do.”
Firstly, as there is no “active” wasp nest just yet, there is no targeted area for a pest controller to treat with insecticide. These individual Queens are all potential nest builders though and if you want to avoid having a real wasp nest to deal with in the summer, it is advised that you kill the queen wasp rather than letting it go. Household sprays or the back of a slipper can be effective in achieving the desired result.
“What about the loft space though – are there not more in there?”
This can sometimes be the case and in some instances an insecticide “fogging” or “ULV” treatment can be carried out by professional pest controllers to help prevent further nests being built. Be aware though that the fogging treatment is not guarenteed to kill all of the Queens as they may not come into contact with the insecticide. You may still find that you develop wasp nests in the summer as a result.
Case No.2 – Honey Bee’s
“Help I’ve got a wasp nest in the chimney of my house”
Another common case of wasp nest “misdiagnosis” is with Honey Bee’s. Honey Bee’s are similar in size and appearence to wasps, especially from a distance. They also appear to “nest” in one location, as do wasps. When a Honey Bee colony is present, they can be seen flying backwards and forwards to the same place. Common locations can be the tops of chimneys, gable ends of houses, in trees or in bushes.
Either they have been in the same location for a number of years or they miraculously appear overnight. If
you were to see the swarm of bee’s arrive it truly is a magnificent site. Literally thousands arrive in what is often described as a dark cloud. Quite often though they may have arrived without your knowledge and can be confused with wasp nests. We receive numerous calls for Honey Bee’s around May and June each year. Particularly when they begin to swarm.
A few points to remember about Honey Bee’s.
- Honey Bee’s are beneficial insects and harming them should be avoided at all costs.
- If Honey Bee’s arrive in a swarm a local bee keeper may have lost them.
- The same local bee keepers would love to come and collect them and take them off of your hands for free. In any case a local bee keeper should always be your first port of call, contact the British Beekeepers Association for a local swarm collector.
- A swarm of bee’s may leave as quickly as they came, so again, just treat them with respect and leave them alone.
“But they are in the chimney, the bee-keeper can’t get them”
In these circumstances we recommend that you try and light a fire and get lots of smoke up the chimney. Bee’s (Honey Bee’s in particular) are naturally fearful of fire. Smoke will send them a signal that it is not safe to nest in a chimney and they will move away when they feel unsafe.
If all of the above options fail, please try and leave the colony of bee’s alone. Chemical control is only justifiable under very strict conditions and only ever considered on a case by case basis with the collaberation of local bee keepers.
Case No.3 – Bumble Bee’s
Over recent years there has been a significant increase in cases of Bumble Bees’s. Including their variants – Tree Bee’s.
Often they can be seen buzzing aroung the tops of guttering on houses, partiularly on the corners. These are regularly mis-identified as Wasp Nests. Again from a distance, they appear to be smaller than what they actually are. Also, many people only consider the large fat “Queen Bumble Bee’s” to actually be “bumble’s”.
In fact, they come in numerous shapes and sizes and can actually be quite small. Distinctive factors when looking at Bumble Bee’s nesting can be:
- When coming in towards the nest, bumble bees kind of “hang around” bumbling this way and that before actually attempting to land and go into the nest area.
- Wasps by contrast, rapidly move backwards and forward towards their nests.
- Tree bee’s can be distinguished by a white tip at the end of their abdomen.
- Bumble Bee’s are hairy and bulbous. Wasps are hairless, black/yellow and narrow.
“Ok, so they’re bumble bees. I still dont want them in my loft”
We do not treat bumble bee’s nests with insecticide to kill them. Their lifecycle nurturing eggs in the spring is short and they will soon move on by their own accord before long. Whilst no pest control treatment is recommended, we sometimes attempt to remove the bumble bee nest if possible to do so. To find out more about Bumble Bee’s you can also check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Case No.4 – Solitary Bee’s
“I can see tiny wasps making holes in the bricks on my house”
Solitary Bee’s come in numerous forms. The two most confused with wasps nesting are:
- Masonry Bee’s – Like the description above
- Mining Bee’s – Displaying similar behaviour but in soil.
The clue is in the name with all Solitary Bee’s. These are not “social insects” like Wasps (including Honey Bee’s and Bumble Bee’s). This means that they do not live in a heirarchical colony with a queen at the head and numerous workers. As such their presence is not to colonise but to make individual holes where they lay singular eggs. They take advantage of soft mortar or soil, drill a small hole, lay an egg, leave a small amount of food in the hole and then seal it up. A small bee then emerges a few weeks later and flies away – no trouble at all.
Key points to remember:
- They dont sting
- They are unaggressive
- They go after a few weeks
- You may need to tidy up the pointing on your brickwork.
It would be remiss not to remind you that colonies of most stinging insects should be treated with caution and respect. Dealing with wasp nests and honey bee’s nests can be particularly dangerous. Please evaluate all of your options before embarking on a course of action.
If you are in doubt as to what insects you think may be a wasp nest, please feel free to send us a high resolution image (in focus) and we will do our best to identify them for you.
Alternatively please feel free to get in touch with us from this page.