Yellowjacket Wasp and Hornet Control... 

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Wasps can strike terror in the hearts of human beings. Most of us have had experience with a wasp sting as children, and some of us may even have severe allergy to the venom in a wasp sting. The only types of wasp that people should be concerned about are Yellowjackets and hornets. Yellowjackets and hornets have given a bad name to honey bees, and paperwasps. Yellowjackets are aggressive insects, and the worker female have a painful sting. Yellowjackets and hornets are just about the only types of wasp to be worthy of serious concern. Yellowjackets can be a problem around dwellings and in playgrounds, but in most situations they are a minor pest and of no economic importance. In fact yellowjackets have a slight value as predators, preying on pest insects, and scavenging animal flesh. 

The term wasp is a description of body type and not temperament. The vast majority of wasps are very beneficial insects. For example there are wasps that are species specific parasites and predators of some very serious pests. 


Description and Lifecycle:

Yellowjackets and bees share the same coloration but can be differentiated by the presence of hair. Bees have hairy bodies and wasps are smooth and hairless. Hornets bodies are primarily black with a yellow tail end. Many other insects have adopted the black and yellow colour scheme as protection from predators taking advantage of bee's and wasp's defensive reputations. Therefore, it is important to note that not all black and yellow insects sting. Yellowjacket and paper wasp nests can be differentiated by the outer structure of the nest. Paper wasp nests are not protected by an outer paper cover, unlike yellowjacket nests which are enclosed by papery material. 

Yellowjackets live a social hive situation similar to honey bees. There may be 5000 wasps per nest. The nests are paper and may be underground, in a tree or a building overhang. 

There is an overwintering queen, who, in the spring selects a nesting site. She constructs a small nest and lays a few eggs. The eggs hatch, go through a larval stage, mature and begin to tend the queen much in the same way as worker bees tend their queen. 

These "worker" wasps are female and the main source of concern: they are the stingers. The worker wasps expand the nest and hunt other insects to feed the developing larva and queen. The workers are known to steal small bits of meat from picnic tables. 

In the fall the queen will leave the nest and search out an over wintering site, typically a crack in tree bark. The worker wasps also leave the nest, but they do not over winter and eventually die. 


Control:

As wasps and hornets aggressively defend their nests, the safest method of destroying a nest is to wait until October, after the queen has left and the workers died. Simply dig up or knock down the nest and destroy it. 

During other times of the year control can be obtained through a number of methods. A piece of cooked meat soaked in an insecticide such as diazinon and hung in a tree (away from children and pets) will be visited by the worker wasps. The wasps will collect a piece of the poisoned meat and carry it back to the nest. Eventually the entire nest can be killed by this method. 

A similar method, that does not use an insecticide is to suspend the cooked meat over a bucket of water and detergent. Wasps that visit the meat may fall in to the bucket of water and drowned. 

A more active attack on a wasp's nest should be undertaken at dusk, when the wasps are in the nest. There are specific aerosol wasp and hornet killers. The chemical ingredient has a rapid knock-down, which is a good thing considering the wasps aggressive defensive of the nest. 

It is important to note that some people are very allergic to wasp stings. If someone is stung and has a severe reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately   

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