Wasps and Sting Prevention

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Make disturbance less likely by creating a boundary between wasp territory and yours

Wasp concealed in pine needlesWasp concealed in pine needles

Gardening and DIY (Do It Yourself) is hazardous in disturbing wasps. Consider using wasp repellent spray to prevent nesting in logs, shed and loft. Be cautious what you plant near doors, windows and play areas. Plant non-flowering plants like ferns or winter flowering plants in these areas. Many mid season flowers will attract wasps from small flowers like Cotoneaster horizontalis to larger ones like Fuchsia magelanica. Remove rotting fruit from the garden. Keep compost covered in a corner of the garden away from paths and cover fruit waste with grass cuttings. Consider using wasp traps.

Avoid antagonising wasps when they are in your territory

Wasp in Fuchsia magelanicaWasp in Fuchsia magelanica

Avoid being as attractive as a flower (see “Skin care”). Avoid swatting a wasp. Risky activities include mowing grass, working near wood piles, composting, harvesting fruit and working in areas not disturbed recently. Work slowly during wasp season in areas not recently disturbed. Stop mowing immediately if you see a wasp. Wasp nests are often at, or close to, ground level. Under some circumstances pruning can be a high risk activity because of the “Euro wasp” which is invading at present from the South of England, northwards. Some people think that this wasp is more aggressive – but it is probably simply a case of it being literally more “in our face”. It nests in branches of bushes and can easily be disturbed while pruning.

Identify wasp nests early and get expert removal

Wasp nestWasp nest

Check for nests regularly before gardening or using noisy equipment and before home improvements. Stand for a few minutes observing different parts of the garden where there are places for wasps to conceal a nest such as shrubs, wood piles and empty plant pots. Wasps come and go from one place. While there are chemicals for sale in garden centres it is really dangerous to get rid of a wasp nest yourself. Multiple stings can be life threatening. No-one knows when their next wasp sting may produce an allergic response. Professional help through private Pest Control or Council Environmental Health costs £50 - 100 (2008 figures). Check call out fees and estimate. Check the flying insects are wasps as you should not destroy a bumble bee nest (see “Recognition”).