The term ‘’wasp’’ actually covers a huge number of species (around 30,000). But the ones we really care about are the ones which persistently invade our favorite places, such as back yards, open air cafes and similar open-air spots in the summer. Unlike honey bees, which produce honey, wasps are often regarded as complete pests with no purpose and no use to humans. That might not be the case, but their sting is enough for us to want them gone from our properties as fast as possible.
The wasp is not dissimilar to the honey bee, but thereare some differences. Wasps tend to be more elongated, with a thin waist. Also the colors are more pronounced, most commonly intensive yellow and black. The body of a wasp is sleek and shiny, as opposed to hairy bodies of honey bees.
What we mostly fear and mostly want to know about is wasps’ infamous sting. The honey bee only stings once, and then dies after that, whereas wasps can sting repeatedly. Wasps tend to use the sting for hunting, and therefore also administer venom when stinging. To make matters worse, they also release a pheromone which entices any nearby wasps to sting the victim as well. The unfortunate victim may soon find themselves attacked by a swarm of wasps.
The nest is usually located somewhere secluded from the elements, and well protected. On your estate that can be a mailbox, the attic, the roof, a hollow brick or even a tree. Wasps make their nests out of paper. They chew the bark off trees and mix it with their saliva to make a sort of papier-mâché substance that they shape into hexagonal cells. In urban areas, they have been known to use newspaper as material, which creates a colorful pattern on the surface of the nest.
Wasps live in a cast society, just like honey bees. The queen finds a suitable place for a nest and creates the first workers. After that, the burden of feeding the colony falls on them, while the queen creates more workers and tends to the nest. The males, called drones are only created towards the end of the life cycle of the colony. Their only purpose is to mate with the new queens, followed by their prompt death. The entire colony dies when the weather turns cold, including the old queen. The only survivors are the new queens, who hide until the next spring when they find a suitable place for their colony and the cycle begins anew.
The common wasp, or yellow jacket and similar species tend to be omnivorous, as they enjoy sweet things, such as fruits and nectar; but they are not strangers to feeding on other insects or carrion. In fact, wasp larvae are fed insects, and in turn they secrete some sort of a sweet liquid which adult wasps consume.
Nobody wants to get stung by a wasp. It hurts, but it usually passes after a day. Some people are allergic to the venom in the wasps’ stingers and can have an anaphylactic shock. It is really good to know if you are allergic, since summer is a season when they are really abundant. If there are many bees (a colony may grow up to five thousand individuals), they can actually damage the vegetation by chewing too much bark off of trees and shrubs.