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10 common wasp questions

If you have stepped outside recently you’ve probably noticed the slight change in weather. And if you’re unfortunate like me you naively thought the sun was your best friend and ended up getting burnt while enjoying the sun’s glistening rays.

However, there is one pest that likes to appear during the warmer months, itching to disrupt your outside activities… wasps!

You probably have a range of questions around these stinging insects that you are desperate to find answers to (maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration).

Well, look no further as here are the answers to 10 frequently asked questions about wasps.

Wasp on a white background

1. Do wasps make honey?

Wasps do not make honey.

Although wasps, like bees, drink nectar, they lack the ability to process this into honey. That’s not to say they don’t like it though, as in some instances wasps have been known to steal honey, in large amounts, from beehives.

2. What’s the difference between wasps and hornets?

The main difference between wasps and hornets is their size and coloring. On average, hornets are a lot larger than wasps and usually come in black and white or brownish-red coloring. Wasps appear in a variety of colors, depending on the species.

It may surprise you to learn that hornets are actually wasps! Yes, you read that right. Hornets are a subset of wasps and are a breed of special wasps living in large, highly organized colonies.

3. What do wasps eat?

Generally, the wasps found in your garden will feed on:

  • nectar

  • fruit

  • insects

  • sugar

However, it is pretty difficult to give a generalized answer around the diet of wasps as this can vary between different species.

Did you know: Paper wasps feed on carrion, which is found in dead flesh and often go hunting for deceased insects to feed on?

4. Do wasps pollinate?

As an insect group wasps aren’t regarded as pollinators.

However, there are some exceptions. Some species of wasp, such as the Masarinae subfamily and fig wasps, are known to be potential and sometimes efficient pollinators, contributing to the pollination of several plant species.

Fig wasps

For example, wasps play a vital role in the life cycle of a fig. Fig wasps are the only pollinator of the fig plant. Think of wasps as the next-day delivery service of Amazon Prime for fig pollen, and in return figs provide wasps with a source of food and shelter.

This is a mutually exclusive relationship known as mutualism as both organisms rely on each other to survive.

P.s. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, as it’s a bit gross, but due to this relationship between figs and wasps, there is actually a dead wasp inside every fig, but fear not as figs produce an enzyme which complete digests the wasps, so you will not find any wasp parts in your fig.

5. What’s the difference between wasps and bees?

The main difference is that wasps are a lot more aggressive than bees, and will sting with little aggravation. Some species of bees can, and will, produce honey whereas no species of wasp has this ability to do this.

Other notable differences are body length and size. Bees tend to have robust, hairy bodies, whilst wasps have slender bodies with a narrow waist.

Both wasps and bees belong to the Hymenoptera order of insects, but their behavior is actually quite different.

6. How do you treat a wasp sting?

You can treat wasp stings by:

  1. cleaning the area with warm soapy water

  2. ice the area to reduce the swelling

  3. apply antiseptic cream or spray

  4. take a painkiller or an antihistamine to help ease the pain and itchiness

Mild and moderate reactions to wasp stings can be treated with these few simple remedies. However, it is highly advised that if you are starting to show the signs of an allergic reaction to a wasp sting you visit your doctor immediately.

Find out everything you need to know about wasp, bee, and hornet stings.

7. How long do wasps live?

Generally, wasps live between 12-22 days, well the worker wasps (sterile females) do. The males have a slightly longer lifespan (although their sole purpose is to reproduce and die).

Queens usually live for about a year. After emerging in the spring from hibernation, they begin to build a nest to start a new colony until winter, when they eventually die, and the lifecycle of a wasp starts again.

Read our article about the lifespan of wasps for more details!

8. Do wasps sting or bite?

Both… but this all depends on the species.

Generally, the species of wasps considered pests, that you will often find in your backyard or ruining your picnic (i.e social wasps) are big fans of stinging. They sting as a form of self-defense.

However, in some instances, these stinging insects will bite. Luckily for us, they only tend to bite smaller insects and not humans. This is because their stinger is a far more effective tool at keeping us humans away.

9. Can wasps sting more than once?

Yes, they can.

Unlike bees, wasps can sting you multiple times, thanks to the anatomy of their stinger. The stinger of a wasp is smooth, allowing them to easily insert and withdraw their stinger to deliver multiple stings.

10. Do wasps die when they sting you?

No, they don’t.

The reason behind this is similar to the reason why they can sting you multiple times. Because their stinger is smooth it can be easily inserted and withdrawn from your skin. On the other hand, a bee’s stinger is barbed, this causes it to get stuck when they sting you. As the bee moves away it ends up ripping its stinger off its body as it gets stuck in your skin, which ultimately causes its demise.

Need help removing a wasp nest from your home or business?

Wasps are extremely dangerous and their nests should not be handled alone or without proper equipment. If you have a wasp problem on your property, please do not hesitate to call Ehrlich Pest Control today!

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