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The Wasp Life Cycle – When Do Wasps Die Off?

As temperatures begin to rise and we head towards the spring and summer months we will start to see an increase in the number of wasps flying around our gardens and homes which leads to many questions from our clients:

  • When do wasps die off?
  • Do wasps nest in the same place?
  • Where do wasps build their nests?

We’ve put together the following information to give you an insight into the life cycle of a wasp and tips you can implement to prevent them nesting around your home.

When Do Wasps Die Off?

In order to understand when a wasp will die off it is important to consider their lifecycle; wasps, like most insects, go through 4 stages of development:

wasp-life-cycle

Once they have achieved adult status, male wasps, or drones as they are often referred to as, tend to die off in the winter – a lack of food and the cold weather conditions mean they struggle to survive.

The Queen wasps hibernate throughout the winter although this doesn’t make them immune to predators who eat them e.g. spiders. There is also the danger that a particularly warm winter will encourage the Queens to come out of hibernation early although a lack of food may cause starvation and they will die off.

Any that survive the winter period immediately start looking for a nest…

Do Wasps Nest In The Same Place?

The ‘Queen’ wasps hibernate over the winter to emerge in spring and, depending on the species, choose a suitable site to start the new nest. Old wasp nests from previous years are not used again although it has been known for the Queen to start her new nest adjacent to or ‘within’ an old nest.

Wasp nest 1

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wasp_nest_1.jpg

In addition, it is possible for several Queens who survived the winter – normally all from the same previous nest – to start construction of their new nests in close proximity to each other.

The queens start off by collecting wood which they then chew up with their saliva to make a kind of paper mache or wood pulp to begin forming a nest.

Tip: We believe that prevention is better than a cure, so by identifying where wasps could build their nests is the best way to start with your prevention. There are a few things that you can do in and around your home to prevent wasps nesting.

Where Do Wasps Build Their Nests?

  • Somewhere they can find shelter from rain and dampness
  • They prefer dark, dry and secluded places
  • Anywhere away from disruption

Some of the following are areas to consider:

1. Check your loft for small holes and gaps as this is the most common way wasps gain entry to loft spaces – seal these holes and use insect mesh to cover air bricks and soffits.

2. Adding light to small places where you may have had nests previously is an effective way to discourage future nest building as wasps do not like light.

3. Inspect areas frequently. Wasps constantly build their nests throughout the spring and summer so make sure you check your must vulnerable areas often.

Tip: If you see nests being formed and they are smaller than a tennis ball in size, then you can vacuum them away but if you are unsure call Hullternative for expert advice.

What To Do If You See Wasps Around Your Property

The sight of wasps flying around your property may lead to the belief that a nest is nearby, however this isn’t always the case as they will naturally come into your garden or home to look for food, water, nest building material etc. You can cut down the instances of ‘free flying wasps’ by following a few simple step:

wasp 2

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polistes_dominula

1. Do not place sweet smelling plants near doors and windows. These plants produce an abundance of nectar and sap which wasps are attracted to.

2. Do not plant fruit trees too close to your house; again, these trees attract wasps.

3. Bins and exposed rubbish should be kept away from your house, make sure bin lids fit and that any damage or holes are sealed.

4. Check wooden garden furniture for ‘white tramlines’ which may indicate that a queen wasp is using it to strip wood for nest building material. Treat wooden furniture with either a shop bought wood treatment product or eucalyptus/menthol/citronella mix in teak oil.

Tip: You can pick up a disposable wasp bag which can help reduce the amount of wasps in your garden. Contact us for information and to purchase.

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