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Autumn: Treatment of Wasps’ Nests

Wasp | Hinton Pest Control

Vespula vulgaris

Thanks to the beautiful weather in September, we are still dealing with wasp enquiries in October.  This is not the ideal time of year to treat a wasps’ nest, so we thought an article to explain why would be useful.

As the nest reaches its maximum size towards the end of summer/beginning of autumn the queen will lay queen eggs and drone eggs.  Each nest will produce around 1000/1500 new queens.  Once these eggs have been laid, the existing queen will not lay any further eggs.  These eggs hatch out and when they have pupated they turn into virgin queens (substantially larger than worker wasps) and male drone wasps.  They leave the nest and navigate to special mating areas.  In most species of social wasp, the young queens mate in the vicinity of their home nest and do not travel like their male counterparts do.  The young queens will then hibernate for the winter once the other worker wasps and founder queen have started to die off.

The adult worker wasps that are left in the nest now have no food source.  This is when wasps can become a problem as they go looking for other food sources and often cross paths with humans.

When we treat a wasps’ nest, we rely on the help of the wasp itself to come into contact with the insecticidal dust taking it back into the nest.  The colony becomes contaminated and the nest dies.  Next seasons queens may leave their nest in late summer and not return to it, thus avoiding any pest control action which may then be taken against the nest.  When the weather cools, perhaps several weeks after they left the nest, these Queen Wasps might try to get into your house in order to hibernate.

If you decide to leave a wasps’ nest to its natural fate then as the weather gets colder and autumn arrives, food diminishes and the remaining adult wasps and old queens will die off due to starvation.  By winter most average size nests have died but occasionally a large nest will survive longer if enough food can be found.

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Our Very Own Bat Woman…

At Hinton Pest Control, we do not get involved with bats from a pest control perspective.  We always advise our clients to contact the Bat Conservation Trust via their website or by telephoning the Bat Help Line.

We were recently contacted by an Evesham charity who told us that a bat had entered their offices and had been hanging from one of their fabric vertical blinds in the office window following a recent thunderstorm.  On their behalf we contacted the Bat Conservation Trust who authorised one of our technicians, Liz Davies, to rescue the bat.

“Bryan” the bat came quietly and spent the rest of the day comfortably in a tailor-made temporary home with access to water.  Our temporary lodger was in fact a Pipistrelle Bat.

Bat in temporary lodgings

Temporary Lodgings

Pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species.  There are two very similar species, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle.  Pipistrelles are the bats that you are most likely to see.  They appear fast and jerky in flight as they dodge about pursuing small insects which the bats catch and eat on the wing.  A single pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night!

As dusk fell that evening, Liz returned close to where Bryan had been found and a suitable release site was identified near the Bell Tower in Abbey Park, Evesham.

Size Comparison with a £1 coin

Size Comparison with a £1 coin

Sitting Quietly on The Release Perch

Sitting Quietly on The Perch Prior to Release

After approximately 7 minutes, Bryan’s head lifted and with wings spread, quickly and elegantly flew off the perch.  Liz told us “It was a magnificent sight to watch Bryan flying around for a couple of minutes whilst taking the time to get his bearings.  Having established his location, Bryan then flew off into the night and it was a privilege to watch this little chap released back into the wild.  Bats are charming creatures and it’s splendid to be able to help one out, in it’s hour of need.  As well as Hinton Pest Control being members of the Bat Conservation Trust, so are my children”.

Click this link The Flight of the Pipistrelle Bat – Bryan’s Successful Release to watch a short video of this successful release.

If you would like further information about bats contact the Bat Conservation Trust by clicking this link Bat Conservation Trust or calling the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228.  As well as useful advice, there is also information about volunteering, membership, events and local  Bat Groups.

In Britain, all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.  This means you will be committing an offence if you:

  1. Deliberately kill, capture or injure a bat
  2. Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
  3. Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time
  4. Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
  5. Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost
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Hornet Sightings Create a Buzz

At this time of year, native European Hornets (Vespa crabro) are venturing out of hibernation and starting to build their nests.  Hornets appear very similar to common wasps, but are larger and coloured chestnut-brown (rather than black) and yellow. The largest of the British social wasps, they build papery nests in hollow trees, although hornet nests have been discovered in wall cavities and chimneys.

Largest native social wasp

Largest native social wasp

Recent media reports within the Midlands have reported on Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) and/or Oriental Hornets (Vespa mandarina).  In actual fact, each of these reports has subsequently been identified as the European Hornet.

Hymettus Ltd is a registered charity that gives advice on the conservation of bees, wasps and ants within Great Britain and Ireland and they have some useful information sheets.

European Hornet Information Sheet

Asian Hornet Information Sheet

There is also an interesting article from the National History Museum that compares the three species and provides additional information Natural History Museum Article

“There have been no confirmed sightings of Asian hornets in the UK – they are smaller than our own native hornets and are no more dangerous” according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  “We are aware of the potential impacts they could have on honey bees and have plans in place to eradicate them if they are identified.  In Great Britain we would not expect Asian hornets to establish outside southern parts of England and Wales due to colder weather.” Further information from DEFRA can be found here DEFRA/Beebase

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Is it a Honeybee or a Wasp?

We know that wasps have started building their nests but at this time of year, most of our enquiries turn out to be honeybees.  Identifying the insect correctly is very important in pest control terms.  If you are unsure of their visual differences, maybe this will help you?

Comparing the differences between a wasp and a honeybee

Comparing the differences between a wasp and a honeybee

At this time of year, honeybees can turn up out of nowhere.  Here is our initial advice regarding honeybees: If you notice a rugby ball shaped mass in a tree, bush or hedgerow, then contact a local beekeeper or search for someone who can collect your bees by clicking this link Search for a Swarm Collector  Try and contact someone as soon as possible and if time is kind to your local beekeeper, they will be happy to come and collect them.  Be aware, that the swarm can move off on its own accord at a moment’s notice, leaving as unexpectedly as they arrived.

Ready for collection

Ready for collection

If you have suddenly noticed a “cloud-like” formation of bees flying in and around your chimney, then this is clear honeybee behaviour.  The Queen sometimes becomes disorientated (due to weather) or requires a bigger environment for her colony and can fly off, with the rest of the colony following her.  In this instance, timing is critical as the Queen can take upto 72 hours before deciding whether she is going to stay or not.  If your chimney is a working chimney with either an open fire or wood/coal burner, then by lighting a fire & creating smoke for a few hours this may just be enough to discourage her and she will leave with the rest of the colony following.  If however, after 72 hours they are still there, the chances are she has entered the fabric of the building and a beekeeper will be unable to entice her out. If your chimney is non-working or has been blocked off, observe them for 48-72 hours and she may well move on, on her own accord. All bees are tremendously useful insects to our environment and honey bees have the additional skill of making honey. Honey Bees remain in their nests year round and will store their honey in their nest to feed the colony over winter.  If your bees have been with you longer than 72 hours, then we will be happy to do a site survey and advise you accordingly.

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Save the Humble Bumble

At this time of year we receive a lot of enquiries about Bumblebees so we thought we’d give you some additional information.  We thought you’d like to see a Bumblebee nest, which is very different to a wasp nest or a honeybee nest. This nest was found in a roof space and was located on the floor, on top of the loft insulation.

Bumble Bee Nest

We are actively encouraging people to live with these docile bees. Bumblebee colonies should be leaving their nests within the next few weeks when the last of their young hatch out, they will not be damaging your property and they are unlikely to return to the same location next year.

Vital pollinators of crops and wildflowers, bumblebees are particularly effective with tomatoes, as their buzz frequency releases large pollen loads. All Bumblebees form small colonies, visiting flowers as far as 2km away to feed on the nectar and gather pollen. The pollen coats the bee’s hairy body and is then combed into a pollen basket. Usually, only the queens survive the winter, so there’s no need for Bumblebees to store large quantities of honey in the hive. Of the 250 known species, 24 are found in the UK but only six of these are a familiar sight in our gardens.

We encourage people to live along side these fascinating social bees.  Further information can be found on the BBC website Bumblebee Nests