Like many insects, wasps are seasonal creatures with their queen emerging from hibernation in spring.
The first thing they’ll do is find somewhere to nest. Wasps mainly nest in:
- Fascias and guttering
- Air bricks
Although it’s more uncommon, you may also find wasps nesting in:
- Tree stumps and bark
- Holes in the ground
Once the queens have found a suitable place to nest, they’ll lay eggs to create the first few workers. She fertilises eggs using sperm she has collected the previous autumn. These eggs hatch into infertile female worker wasps who continue to build the nest and create new cells for the queen to lay her eggs into.
In May, the queen continues to lay eggs into the individual cells. These hatch into larvae and are fed insects by the worker wasps. During the first part of the month, the second group of hatched larvae pupate into adult workers. This process takes place repeatedly over the remainder of the summer. By the end of May, the first workers have been joined by dozens of others who help build the nest and take care of the larvae.
During June and July, the wasp nest reaches peak activity levels and continues to grow in size. By July, there will be many hundreds of wasps in the nest which is why it can be problematic for anyone who has a nest in or near their home.
Adult worker wasps will travel outside the nest each day to find food to feed the larvae inside the nest. You may however notice that wasps become more of an issue towards the end of the summer. This is because during the earlier part of the year, they feed on aphids, caterpillars and other similar insects. Once their food supply starts to deplete thanks to these insects dying out at this time of year, wasps will turn their attention elsewhere – our picnics being a common target.
From August onwards, wasp activity starts to wind down with workers dying and the queen slowing down her egg laying. Until around October, she will lay eggs that hatch into fertile males and females, rather than the infertile female workers she previously hatched. The queen dies around this time and the young queens mate with the fertile males and fly off.
Winter is not kind to wasps. The cold weather and lack of food kills off the males while the queens hibernate. Even they’re not safe however because a lot of hibernating queens die due to predators such as spiders.
Climate change is also having a big impact on wasp behaviour and populations. In recent years, the UK has been experiencing unusually warm weather earlier in the year. This means that queens accidentally come out of hibernation early but with limited food sources, they can die of starvation.
Because wasp nests can house up to 10,000 wasps, it’s important that you don’t try and remove them yourself. Please do contact a professional wasp pest controller such as Prokill who will be able to safely remove the nest for you.
To find out more, head over to our wasp pest control service page. Alternatively, you can get in touch to book your free, no obligation pest audit, complete our online form or call us on 0800 328 9354.