Wasps do in fact offer a little known benefit by eating dead insects and flies around your home and garden, but their threat overshadows this effect for most people. The sting of a wasp is notoriously sore, but they can be a genuine danger for people allergic to wasp venom. Medical help is required to treat an allergic reaction, especially when stung on the mouth or neck. Typical symptoms of a reaction include giddiness, swelling, nausea and extreme pain.
Here are some further facts about wasp stings and wasp colonies:
- Wasps secrete a pheromone in their sting that alerts nearby wasps to danger, thereby becoming aggressive. That is why it is best to avoid swatting a wasp near a nest.
- For most people, a wasp sting will only affect people for around 24 hours, but for a minority, an allergic reaction may ensue which can trigger anaphylactic shock. For more information visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign.
- Deodorant spray containing aluminium can in fact help treat an ordinary sting.
- Within a wasp colony there are hierarchies or ‘castes’ of queen, males and workers.
- Male wasps are known as drones, whose function is to mate with queen wasps. Once achieved the drones will die.
- Wasps do not in fact swarm like bees do.
- European Hornets can do large damage to trees and shrubs by stripping their bark.
- Wasp larvae feed on insect flesh.
- The only wasps to survive winter are the fertilised queen wasps who emerge from hibernation in spring to build a nest. The queen lays around a dozen eggs which hatch into larvae and pupate in adult wasps. These wasps become foragers, feeding the next round of larvae.
- Towards the end of the nest’s life cycle in late summer, male wasps and new queens are bred who mate. The ensuing winter kills the males, worker wasps and original queen wasp, but the newly fertilised queens will hibernate for next summer.