A common question asked by many people is: Do wasps serve any purpose?
The answer is: Yes. Although humans find wasps both irritating and sometimes frightening, in their natural environment wasps are needed to pollinate flowers and plants during the early summer months. They do this by feeding on nectar in just the same way as bees do. In fact, if we were to get rid of wasps entirely it would cause many problems in nature, so despite them being problematic, they are actually beneficial.
Both wasps and hornets are predatory, hunting down small insects which they then feed to their young (or larvae). Adult wasps kill their prey, chewing it into small pieces which are then taken back to feed the grubs in the nest. The young wasps eat the food parcels and turn the chitin (or exoskeletons) of the insects into a sugary food for the adult wasps.
A single wasp colony in just one summer can kill a huge number of insects. It has even been found that around 5 metric tons of insects can be killed in the course of a year by just a single nest of wasps.
Which types of wasps are pest controllers called in to deal with?
There are three types of wasp colonies that UK pest controllers are commonly called in to remove. These wasps are social wasps as opposed to the other varieties found in the UK which are mainly solitary wasps.
The Three Main Types Of Nuisance Wasp and Hornet are:
The common wasp Vespa Vulgaris: They can be recognised by the distinctive anchor markings to the face.
The Hornet Vespa Crabro: They are both bigger and longer than wasps by about an inch and are redder in their colouring.
The Median wasp: Less prevalent in most years than other species it is also a social wasp.
Are Hornets Wasps?
Hornets are indeed classed as wasps (of the order Hymenoptera) although they are much bigger in size. Like wasps, they are predatory but their prey is larger insects and they are known to attack the nests of normal wasps, killing the adults and taking the larvae back as food for their own grubs.
They also attack honey bee hives despite the honey bees having a defence against Hornets in that they can survive at higher temperatures. If honey bees detect a hornet in their hive they swarm around the intruder and raise the temperature by using their muscles to a level that a hornet cannot withstand, essentially cooking it.
Hornet nests are larger than a wasp nest but are less populated with only around 300 hornets living inside.
If you find either a hornet or a wasps nest, the best thing to do is call professional pest control experts. The common wasp Vespa Vulgaris and the hornet Vespa Crabro can be dangerous to remove independently as the occupants can become aggressive, causing stings as they try to protect their home and young.