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Although wasps are not the type of insect you’d like to see around your vicinity, much of the fear and dislike most people have for them is misplaced. These creatures are ecologically and economically essential by helping in crop and flower pollination, as well as playing a significant role in managing pest populations.
Wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera, suborder Apocrita, and there are over 30,000 identified species of wasp. They are divided into two large groups: social and solitary wasps. Contrary to what you may expect, many wasp species fall into the solitary category.
Social wasps use their stingers for defense, while solitary species use their stingers and venom for hunting. There are even some wasp species that don’t sting at all! Despite being helpful to the ecosystem, wasps have developed a bad rep among human beings because of their intrusive nature and painful stings.
While wasps are sometimes confused with bees or even some types of ants, they have a handful of features that make them distinct.
The most distinguishable feature between wasps and bees is their pointed lower abdomen and the narrow petiole separating its abdomen from the thorax. Additionally, wasps create their nests from wood fibers, which they scrap and chew with their strong mandibles into fine papery pulp. Other identifying features include:
Color: Different wasp species can boast a huge variety of different colors. The most familiar ones are bright red, orange, metallic blue, yellow, and brown.
Size: Workers measure around ½ of an inch long, and queens can reach up to 1 inch in length.
Bodily Features: Unlike ants and bees, wasps have very narrow petioles (the segment between the abdomen and thorax), slender bodies, and legs with few hairs. They have antennae with 12 to 13 segments. In the species that do sting, only the female come with stingers and venom-producing glands.
Habitat: Wasps can be found just about anywhere outside, including patios, shrubs, on fences or walls, in between wood stumps, logs, or around gardens and flower planters.
Diet: Some adult wasps feed on nectar or secretions produced by larvae, and in predatory species, larvae feed on insects. Some species have parasitic larvae, and in these cases the larvae will feed on their host.
Are Wasps Dangerous?
Because of their aggressiveness and territorial nature, wasps are considered to be dangerous, but every species varies in how aggressive they can be. Some will use their long stinger to attack anything that disturbs them or approaches their nest, and some are content to spend their time alone and will go out of their way to avoid you. The worst-case scenario is when highly aggressive species attack in large groups and sting repeatedly. Their stings are painful and may cause a severe reaction if someone is allergic to wasp stings.
How to Prevent and Control Wasps
Homeowners can prevent wasp infestation in several ways. These include:
- Keep trash cans clean and clean any food or drink spills in outdoor dining or relaxation areas
- Keep lawns, trees, bushes and shrubs well-maintained.
- Seal cracks and crevices on the walls, particularly those around lights or security cameras or any other areas high up.
- Keep your doors and windows shut unless there are screens between them and the outside.
Although there are several things that you can do to help prevent wasps from infesting your property, once they are on your property it can become extremely difficult or even dangerous to remove them, and in Texas they can be quite persistent year-round, building and re-building their nests all over your property. If you want a safe, ongoing solution to wasp infestation, contact Domain Pest Control for a free quote today!