If picnics and barbecues are anything to go by, you would be forgiven for thinking that wasps will eat anything providing it’s full of sugar. While these insects are naturally drawn to sweeter foods, most people are surprised to learn that wasps do actually have a varied diet.
Although wasps are considered a pest because of their ability to sting – sometimes even unprovoked – they do play an important role when it comes to insect control. They eat flies, aphids, caterpillars and other invertebrates and typically, they only change their diet towards the end of the summer when their nests are at maximum capacity.
At this time of year, there are lots of adult wasps around and few larvae. Normally, when feeding larvae, adults obtain small, sugar-rich droplets of liquid from their young. With fewer larvae around as the summer draws to an end, however, the adults need to acquire more sugars and carbohydrates from other sources. Because of their need for carbs, this is why you may notice wasps being just as drawn to your crisps as they are to sugar-rich foods such as jam and fruit.
Wasps are also known to eat nectar, other small insects and plants. Some types of wasp, such as yellow jackets, will even eat human food (including meat) and are therefore often found swarming around rubbish bins.
Unbeknown to many, wasps can even eat wood. Paper wasps chew wood pulp in order to help create their paper-like nests so if you’ve noticed wooden structures around your property that look like they may have been chewed, this could be a sign that you have a wasp nest somewhere.
Paper wasps can easily be identified by the appearance of their nests. These are umbrella-shaped and are held by a single comb or pedicel. Unlike yellow jackets, these nests will be open and aren’t completely covered. You may also recognise a paper wasp by its appearance. They’re usually between ¾ and one-inch long, they have slender bodies with narrow waists and have smoky black wings which fold lengthways when at rest. They are usually brown with yellow markings on the head, thorax and abdomen.
Wasps are a predator of many insects. Despite this and their ability to sting, it doesn’t mean that they’re not hunted by other animals themselves. Some natural predators of wasps include:
- Praying mantis
Food will always be the main reason why wasps are drawn to your home or business premises so make sure you don’t provide an easy source of tempting treats for them.
- Clean away spills and debris as soon as any mess is made
- If rubbish bags are kept outside, ensure they’re in a bin with a lid that closes tightly
- Avoid leaving pet food outside
- Keep windows and doors closed so wasps can’t fly inside
If you think that you may have an infestation and are looking to get rid of wasps, please feel free to contact Prokill to arrange your free pest audit and we will be more than happy to help.