Wasp information and control

Wasps strike fear into many, and for good reason! They hurt! As a pest control technician, I can assure you it is not fun to be stung!

Wasp extermination

They’re not all bad!

Contrary to popular belief, wasps do pollinate, though not as much as bees. They are also great at cleaning up our environment by collecting dead things such as insects and small bits of human food. This cycles nutrients. Wasps are also a food source for some birds. 

They’re not all good either!

Wasps sting! While wasps can bite, it just feels like a little pinch and shouldn’t hurt too much. It won’t cause any swelling. The sting, however, can hurt a lot! Check out this description from How Stuff Works:

  1. The stinger delivers the venom to the victim’s blood stream.

  2. Peptides and enzymes in the venom break down cell membranes, spilling cellular contents into the blood stream. When the cells in question are neurons, which serve the central nervous system, this breach causes the injured cell to send signals back to the brain. We experience these signals in the form of pain.

  3. To make sure the pain keeps coming, other substances in the venom, such as norepinephrine, stop the flow of blood. This is why the pain of a wasp sting can last for several minutes, until the blood stream can carry the diluted venom away.

  4. Finally, hyaluronidase and MCDP (mast cell degranulating peptide) pave the way for the membrane-destroying elements in the venom to move onto other cells by melting through the connective tissue between them. This spreading factor leads to the swelling and redness associated with most insect stings.

Wasp nests

Wasps make their nests out of wood and other plant materials. They chew the wood off of trees and structures and then regurgitate it to build their nests. That’s why you can see different colours in the nests! It depends what type of wood they ingested.

Wasp nests in Calgary die off every winter. Every wasp nest you see from previous years is dead and empty, and any active nests you see were created this year! In the fall, new wasp queens are sent out from the nest to overwinter somewhere safe. In the spring, any wasps you see are new queens searching for a great place to start a nest. They grow their nest over the course of the summer. By late summer and early fall, their nests can be very large, containing many hundreds of individuals.

In the fall, the wasps are desperately searching for food to support their new queens for the next season, and they become more aggressive.

Wasps on poplar trees

In the fall, wasps love to eat the sticky substance left behind by aphids and scale bugs found on poplar tree leaves. If you are noticing wasps all over your poplar trees in Calgary, there isn’t necessarily a nest nearby. There can be wasps from multiple nests all coming together to feed on the residue found on the tree leaves. There is no effective chemical treatment for this situation, and it wouldn’t be recommended to spray chemicals all over the tree in this situation anyway! The only thing you can do is set up wasp bag traps to reduce the number of wasps hanging around. The good news is that the wasps are not particularly aggressive when they are not around their nest, so you’re unlikely to be stung when they are busy feeding on your poplar tree.

DIY wasp nest removal

If you are feeling brave and want to try eliminating the wasp nest on your own, do it in the early morning when the wasps are dormant. You will need to put on some thick, protective clothing and gloves. Wasps are very good at finding your face as well, so if you can wear some kind of veil or mesh, that would be ideal!

For hanging wasp nests, you will need a garbage bag and something to scrape the nest off of wherever it is hanging. Get the bag open and ready underneath the nest, and simply scrape the entire nest in the bag, or just grab the nest with the bag and close it! A pressure washer works well, too, depending on where the nest is. Sounds easy, right?

The underground or cavity wasp nests are a little more challenging. In this situation, you will need to purchase some foaming wasp killer from the hardware store. Insert the tube into the hole and fill up the void as much as you can. Repeat this process again for the next couple of days until the wasps are gone.

If this is a bit too much to handle for you, don’t worry! Don’t risk getting stung or injured. Give Grove Eco-friendly Pest Control a call. We use professional products and bee suits to ensure everyone’s safety.

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