A late summer wasp nest can easily contain several thousand insects. A number of the wasps will remain around the wasp entrance defending it. If attacked, e.g. by swatting or insecticides, wasps can release a pheromone which calls others to help. This makes treatment of an established nest by untrained, unprotected people dangerous.
Most professional pest control contractors use lances which can reach up to twenty feet. An insecticidal powder is pumped into the nest entrance which is picked up by passing insects and ingested as they clean themselves, killing them. This will usually take 24-48 hours to kill all the wasps. Longer if a bigger than average nest).
Wasp Biology & Habits
The common wasp is found throughout Britain and Northern Europe. It forms colonies inside nests specially constructed in earth banks, roof spaces and in cavities in trees and walls. They are, therefore, frequently associated with domestic housing.
The overwintering, 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 about the size of a golf ball. The queen then lays eggs, which develop into adult workers that 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 overwintering sites.
As the weather gets cooler the workers and remaining males become sluggish and with the onset of winter they die off. Only fertilised queens will survive by hibernating and will emerge the following spring to start new colonies.
Wasps are mainly known for their nuisance value in late summer. In the earlier part of the year they collect garden insects to feed their larvae. Later in the season after the queens have left, the workers feed themselves on sweet substances such as fruit, sugars, nectar etc.
This brings them into closer contact to humans which teamed with their numbers makes them become a significant nuisance in homes and factories around August, September time.