What does a Wasp look like?
A typical wasp is hairless, unlike common species of bees. Wasps possess three distinct body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax is joined to the abdomen by a constricted petiole giving the appearance of a slender waist. The thorax has three pairs of legs and two pairs of membranous wings which are used for flying. Like most insects, the head bears mouth parts, sensory organs, compound eyes, and segmented antennae. The last segment of the abdomen in female wasps is modified into the egg-laying ovipositors. The body size and color of a wasp varies depending on species. Yellow jackets and hornets are stout and very colorful with bold yellow, white, and black markings on their bodies and faces. Paper wasps on the other hand are relatively long and thin-bodied (16 – 25 mm), long-legged, and have yellow-reddish and black markings. Mud daubers are very distinct, with very long bodies, 13 – 25mm long, with either long or stalked abdomen. Compared to other wasps, mud daubers are not so colorful; they are mainly black with occasional pale-yellow markings.
Wasps as Pests
Homeowners should remain highly concerned in regards to possible wasp infestations. Aside from cosmetic damage, common wasps do not cause structural damage to houses or buildings. However, the insects may cause annoyance as they interfere with outdoor and backyard recreational or social activities such as swimming, picnics, BBQs, and gardening. Wasps are typically attracted by food, beverages, and garbage associated with such social events. Most wasps are not aggressive and will not sting unless protecting their nests or provoked. If provoked, they will sting and unlike bees, they are capable for stinging multiple times. Stings from wasps can be a health concern because they may cause severe allergic reactions which can result in anaphylactic shock and death.
Wasp-proofing: Queens overwinter in protected shelters in homes and emerge the following spring to start new colonies. The new colonies generally begin in close proximity to where the queens overwinter. Homeowners should wasp-proof homes and property by inspecting, identifying, and sealing or excluding all potential entry points and protected sites, such as cracks in windows and doors, poorly sealed holes for ventilation lines, spaces in soffits, recessed lighting fixtures, or gaps leading to voids in walls or baseboards. Any opening a quarter of an inch or larger represents a potential entry point. Wasp-proofing prevents or reduces the chances of queens entering structures to overwinter and establish colonies the next season.
Habitat Modification: Denying wasps food generally leads to the insects moving on. Reducing or eliminating factors that attract and encourage other insects such as flies, ants, and spiders, which in turn provide food for the wasps, also eliminates potential infestations. Wasps like to nest in protected areas, so trimming back bushes, twigs, shrubs, and trees eliminates potential nesting sites. One must remove old, non-active wasp nests from previous seasons to prevent infestation relapses.
Human Behavior Modification: Homeowners should adopt practices which do not attract wasps. During outdoor activities such as picnics or parties, homeowners should keep all food sealed in airtight containers, clean-up spills promptly, and cover trash with tight-fitting covers. Store garbage bins no less than 50 feet away from vulnerable entry sites or outdoor activities. During summer months, outdoor garbage bins should be placed away from entranceways and should be emptied on a daily basis.
Please get a pest control expert if one is experiencing a wasp infestation in or around his/her home or business.