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What Flying Insect Am I?

At this time of year, we are preparing ourselves for various insect seasons.  There are millions of species of insects and in the sunshine, they are all out and about doing their thing but only a handful of them become a pest which require pest control intervention.  An approximate timeline of these seasons may help you to identify which insect you have and their behaviour, which in itself can be reassuring.

Red Mason Bee

Red Mason Bee using an existing hole

March/April – We receive enquiries about solitary bee activity of which there are more than 200 recorded species.  They are individual bees that can appear in numbers.  These insects do not live in colonies, they will lay their eggs in an existing hole in a building and then they will backfill it with vegetation, leaving soon after.  As soon as the larvae emerge, they will eat their way out and as adults, they too will leave.  They do not sting.  Most Mason Bees nest in existing cavities which is why they take so easily to “bee hotels” that many people put up in their gardens.  The majority of ground nesting bees actually dig their own burrows, the spoil forms little soil “volcanos” around the burrow entrance in many cases.   If your lawn is affected in this way, just go over the soil with a stiff brush and spread it over the lawn.  This won’t cause a problem for the bees; they will find the revised entrance, clean out any soil that got pushed in to the burrow and carry on with things.  They will only be with you for a few weeks and then you won’t see them again until next year in March / April.  Hinton Pest Control Ltd does not provide pest control for solitary bees.

Bumble Bee | Hinton Pest Control

Bumblebee

April / May – We anticipate bumblebee enquiries.  Of the 250 known species, 25 are found in the UK but only 6 of these are a familiar sight in our gardens.  At Hinton Pest Control, we actively encourage people to live along side these beautiful and docile creatures who are temporary lodgers that do not cause any damage to a property.  They are social bees that have an average number of about 40-50 individuals in the colony.  Individuals will only sting as a last resort if they feel threatened and will die shortly afterwards.

 

Occasionally we relocate them if they have nested in a bird box but otherwise we leave them alone where possible.

Honey Bee | Hinton Pest Control

Honeybee

April/May/June – We anticipate honeybee enquiries.  We work closely with the Worcestershire Bee Keeper Association to collect displaced swarms but if they are in the fabric of the building, it is unlikely that a beekeeper can assist.  Honeybees can cause structural damage if they have been in situ for a while.  Typically, they will gather in a “cloud-like” formation close their entrance to the nest.  They are social bees that can be made up of thousands of individuals in the colony.  Individuals and other nearby individuals can sting if they feel threatened and will die shortly afterwards.  Honey Bees are tricky in pest control terms and although we offer no guarantee of accepting the work, we do try to problem solve for our clients.  A full survey is required before any treatment can be attempted.  Sometimes they are easily dealt with but sometimes it ends up as a two person job requiring a number of treatments plus the skills of builders to remove honeycomb & seal the treatment area.

 

Wasp | Hinton Pest Control

Vespula vulgaris

May/June/July/August/September – This is wasp/hornet season and all species of social wasp, they are treated as pests when they come into conflict with people.  These social wasps can contain a few hundred individuals (and sometimes a few thousand later on in the season) in the colony.  Wasps will sting and they can sting repeatedly but they don’t necessarily die.  Worker wasps die from starvation in the autumn/winter and new Queen Wasps go off to hibernate, leaving the nest empty.  The Queen Wasps will make a brand new nest in the spring and leave old nests uninhabited which will gradually crumble and disintegrate.   Hinton Pest Control Ltd routinely provides pest control treatment for nests where there is wasp activity.

Further Information about the above species can be found by clicking the following links:

Hinton Pest Control Ltd

Bumblebees:   http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/we-encourage-people-to-live-alongside-bumblees-where-possible/
Honeybee and Wasp Comparison:  http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/is-it-a-honeybee-or-a-wasp/
Hornets:  http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/hornet-sightings-create-a-buzz/

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Bumblebee Identification:  http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/

Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society

BWARS Beginners:  http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/beginners-bees-wasps-and-ants
BWARS Technical:  http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/bees-britain

Royal Entomological Society

General Insects:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what_is_it.htm
Solitary Bees:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what/solitary_bees.htm?hc_location=ufi
Bumblebees:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what/bumblebees.htm

Worcestershire Bee Keepers Association
Honey Bees:  http://www.wbka.net/

Wild About Gardens
Solitary Bee Hotels:  http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/thingstodo/intwohours/build-a-bee-hotel.aspx

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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.