How Long Do Wasp Nests Last?

The warm sunny weather can be very pleasant, but also brings along bees, wasps, and other flying pests. There are many concerns about these stinging pests since they quite often build their nests in urban areas and increase the risk of somebody being stung. Infestation can also be very concerning, there are almost no boundaries to its natural growth around manmade structures, which translates to an increase in that risk of being stung. 

Wasps can be particularly dangerous and are overall more terrorizing to people because of their aggressive behavior. This behavior, which usually causes people to be stung, leaves the victim with sharp pain and might cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. The best way to avoid this altogether is certainly to understand more about these stingers and take measures to keep your home free from their nests. 

 

What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?

It is not so easy as one might think to differentiate a wasp from a bee. Their shape is very similar, especially when you’re not (and shouldn’t be) looking from so close, and both of them show yellow-ish color tones which can be hard to discern under specific light conditions. 

Overall, wasps present distinct and vivid yellow and black bands around their abdomen, while bees usually have darker yellow and honey-like light or dark brown around their tiny bodies. A lot of bee species – like honey bees – also show hairs all over themselves. This feature was strategically designed to allow them to trap pollen, carry it, and make it easier to brush it off somewhere else. Wasps, on the other hand, don’t carry as much hair on their body, at least not as much as bees do, and can present a shiny coat under direct light.  

Wasps are popularly known to be a lot more aggressive than bees, but that’s not true to all varieties of them. One of the most aggressive varieties is the yellow jackets, which build their nests in the ground in holes or depressions in fields and woods. It’s not easy to see one of those and if stepped on, or mowed over and crushed, they will swarm and sting whoever is around as a protection mechanism. 

Lastly, wasps are not like bees and don’t lose their stings after it has been used. They are able and designed to repeatedly sting since they can pull it out and use it all over again, which can provoke unfortunate accidents along with highly painful consequences. 

How do wasps build their nests?

Wasps nests are made from weathered wood sources from the tree or the porch they might be relocating to. After chewing on this wood fiber and turning it into a paste, they begin to shape their honeycomb look-a-like nest. 

But not all wasps build their nests in such a manner. Some of them prefer to go to the ground, like the yellow jackets, where a single female will usually find an abandoned animal burrow and will start forming her colony, which will then work on improving and expanding the nest to accommodate all the other future wasps. 

Other less aggressive kinds will get their hands dirty and actually dig their own hole, which is the case of the cicada-killer wasps. These little ones are solitary and the sting is only present in the females, almost only used to paralyze their prey. Males can’t sting at all.

Why do wasps build their nests so close to humans?

A lot of species of wasps that can be found in an urban environment build their nests in these conditions because they can find all the resources they need nearby. They usually demand a horizontal base in which their nest hangs from and that can be porch ceilings or trees in your backyard. 

Wasps nests are made from weathered wood sources from the tree or the porch they might be relocating to. After chewing on this wood fiber and turning it into a paste, they begin to shape their honeycomb look-a-like nest. 

House environments are also preferred by wasps sometimes because it has many corners, which can’t be easily found in nature but that gives their nest extra protection.

How long does a wasp nest actually last? 

How long a colony of wasps lasts relates entirely to their life cycle around the year. The nests usually start being built during spring when the queens end their hibernation and come out for food and for reproducing. 

Colonies don’t usually survive once temperature drops; the other workers apart from the queen will slow down their work as it gets too cold for their organisms and food becomes too scarce to provide for so many individuals. It’s also not uncommon that the queen wasps, which are the ones left behind, to be eaten by spiders during the end of the winter. 

Wasps don’t reuse the same nest once it has been abandoned, although they might come back to the next spot during the next spring and build another nest right next to the old one if the queen survived its hibernation period somewhere nearby. 

Considering this, wasps nest usually last around 3 to 4 months during the warmer seasons, but they do die out naturally as winter comes. 

How to prevent wasps from building their nests on your property? 

There are many factors that can attract wasps to your home. Some of these factors can’t be controlled. Wasps find a safe haven in places such as chimneys, for example, and regarding structures like this one, there is not much to be done. 

One way to prevent wasps from coming over is trying to diminish their food supplies around your home. Since wasps are omnivores, they feed on both plant-material to smaller insects, you can prevent them by controlling the pests they feed on. 

You can do that by keeping your trash cans in protected places, not easily accessible by these stingers, as well as cleaning any spills. You should also be aware of your outdoor space and what you keep in it, keeping nectar-rich flowers, hummingbird feeders, exposed food or drinks on your patio or barbecue to a minimum, and set them as far from common areas as possible. For this, it’s recommended that you go check your yard and house before spring starts to make sure you’re not overlooking anything that might become a perfect environment for the colony to be built. 

This once-over shouldn’t be a once-over and you should try to come up with places you haven’t thought of checking before, as well as block any areas wasps might be attracted to. Maintaining your home’s fences and decks is also important since wasps need wood to build their nests, so pay attention to those. 

What to do if you find a wasps nest near your home?

First, try to identify what kind of wasp species is this one. You can do that by identifying the wasps themselves or by the shapes of their nests only. Hornets, for example, will build round nests with a slightly pointed bottom, the size of a football on average, and will have smooth paper-like walls with a single large entry. 

Paper wasps will have larger, hexagonal open combs which resemble an umbrella. If it’s more of a yellow shade and appears to be made of wax, it might simply be a honey bee hive, so there wouldn’t be any need to worry about that since they’re protected species and are rarely aggressive. 

Make sure you’re dealing with a wasp’s nest first. 

The next step would be to remove this next. It can be done on your own, but it’s not recommended. Because, as previously mentioned, the wasps are able to repeatedly sting a person, if the right procedure is not followed, it could cause undesirable accidents not only to the person dealing with the nest but to whoever might be around at the same time, including children. 

Since the amount of risk is too high and you have probably never done this before, even with clear instruction, it’s still better to contact a pest control company or specialist to do it for you. Keep in mind the safety of your family and your household. 

What to do if you have been stung by a wasp?

  • Apply ice to the site to relieve the pain as much as needed. Make sure to wrap it in a towel or cloth to prevent it from freezing and hurting the skin
  • Take an antihistamine to help with the itching and swelling caused by the sting
  • Wash the sting site with soap and water. Some creams might help relieve redness, swelling, and itching 
  • If after the first 20 minutes from the moment you were stung you feel dizziness, nausea, severe swelling of the face (lips and throat as well), seek immediate medical attention, those symptoms might be caused by an allergic reaction 
  • If you feel multiple wasp stings at the same time, try to remain calm, do not try to fight the wasps, and try to move away slowly to as further from them as you possibly can. Do not try to play dead and do not try to hide in a body of water since wasps will be waiting for you to re-emerge. 

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