Common pests

Wasps

The common wasp Vespula vulgaris is common throughout Britain and Northern Europe. It forms colonies inside nests specially constructed in soil banks, roof spaces and in cavities in trees and walls. They are frequently associated with domestic housing.

Facts about wasps

The over wintering and fertilised queen wasp emerges around the middle of April after hibernation and sets up a new colony. The new colony starts as a " cell " made up of chewed timber and bark and is the size of a golf ball. The queen then lays eggs, which turn into adult workers who begin to enlarge the nest and provide food for the queen as she lays further eggs. By late summer the nest can contain up to 5,000 individuals and can be 30 cm or greater in diameter. In late summer males and young queens emerge and mate. The fertilised queens fly away to select suitable over wintering sites.

As the weather gets cooler the workers and remaining males become sluggish and with the onset of winter they are killed off. Only fertilised queens will survive by hibernating and will emerge the following spring to start new colonies.

How do they affect me?

Wasps are mainly known for their nuisance value in late summer. In the earlier part of the year they are too busy collecting insects to be a nuisance. Later in the season the workers search for sweet substances and can become a significant nuisance in homes, factories etc. They can sting and this habit increases as the insect becomes more irritable with the onset of cooler weather.

How do you control them?

Wasps are generally easy to control if the nest can be located and access to it gained. The nest can be disabled by applying a residual insecticide, either as a dust or a liquid, to the nest entrance or nearby such that wasps entering the nest are contaminated, leading to the nest being destroyed over a period of time. Where the nest is totally inaccessible (e.g. loft spaces and cavity walls) it may be difficult to treat effectively. It should be noted, however, that provided the area close to the nest is treated with insecticide this is normally sufficient to destroy it. Although desirable, it is not essential to actually treat the nest itself. 

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