As summer approaches so do all the insects, whether they crawl or fly. If the last few years in New Brunswick are any indication, we can expect to see lots of wasps. A common wasp to encounter around your property is the Bald Faced Hornet. Although technically of the yellow-jacket family, this social wasp gets its name from its black body with mostly white face (commonly referred to as Black Wasps).
Every wasp colony is made up of classes, a founding queen, workers which are sterile, females and males (drones). Only inseminated females overwinter, all other wasps in the colony die every year. These females emerge from sheltered locations each spring and pick nesting sites for the season. Nests from the previous year are not re-used. These nesting sites are chosen in various locations, from ground level up to 70 ft high. These large aerial nests begin with a founding queen creating paper combs of several dozen cells each. Eggs are deposited in each of the cells and the combs are covered with a multi layered, grey paper-maché envelope. Within 6-10 days this queen now has help expanding the nest. Adult wasps are all prevalent by late summer.
These nests which reach sizes up to 15″ in diameter and as much as 2′ long, can be found in all sorts of areas from bushes and trees, to houses, sheds and utility poles. Many nests that are high enough off the ground cause no problems and generally pose no threat. If the nest in under your deck, below your BBQ, or above your front door however, then the potential for a painful sting (or several painful stings) becomes a serious reality.
When choosing to deal with such a problem on your own there are a few tips to keep in mind. The first is to be sure you are NOT allergic to stings. If you are, it isn’t worth it. Getting stung is a risk you have to take in order to deal with wasps or bees.
Most (not always all) wasps are in the nest after dark. This is the most effective time to treat with over the counter aerosols. Use only dim lighting in the dark as shining bright lights at the nest will only draw attention to you. Be sure to wear sleeves, gloves, hat and safety glasses. The less skin you show the safer you are. I would do this in my bathing suit, but I’m an experienced professional.
With an aerosol can labelled for wasps (Raid has several choices), apply directly into the entrance at the bottom of the nest. I recommend at least half the can at once for a small nest. Large nests you may need two cans. Once treated, promptly remove the nest and discard in a sealed plastic bag. By prompt I mean immediately, don’t wait for any survivors to come tell you how they feel about it!