Wasps – what are we dealing with? These are one of the more aggressive species of insect you might find in your garden. However most people don’t know that there are many different types of wasps with many different types of behaviour. The most widespread wasps are the Common Wasp and the German Wasp. Both of which are social wasps – meaning that they have live in a nest where they have role specialisation e.g. queens, workers and drones.
Common Wasps are about the same size as a bee (about 2cm long). They are dangerous because unlike bees every single worker wasp is able to sting its target multiple times. Their stingers are sharp, thin and release venom when it stings – fortunately this is not too dangerous too humans!
Hornets are genetically very similar to Common Wasps which is why they both look so similar to each other. However a hornets sting is more painful than a wasp on behalf of it having a higher acetylcholine content – although European hornets are relatively safe compared to the ones you might find in Asia or America. You can tell the difference between a Common Wasp and its hornet counterpart by their heads. A hornet has a larger head with its eyes further back and further apart.
Both these species of wasp are useful in that they keep the populations of smaller insects in check by preying on them. Although they can become a pest themselves due to their sometimes-aggressive behaviour towards humans.
But not all wasps you encounter will be sociable wasps, some will be solitary wasps. Interestingly the majority of wasp species are solitary insects. This means that every member of the species is capable of producing offspring with another member of its species of the opposite sex. Despite this some of these wasps still produce nests! Due to the greater species diversity you will find more types of nest with these wasps. However the materials will be less complex, so instead of the sort of paper mache like substance you find in social wasps nests these wasps nests will be primarily made of mud. For example, Mud daubers will make mud nests while Potter wasps make vase shaped nests.
Contact Chris here at Shawyers for information on dealing with wasps, hornets and their nests.