Monday, 17 November 2014

A Roomful of Wasps!

Posted by Rosie

Mid November may seem to be an odd time to be blogging about wasps but look closely at the picture I took yesterday and you will see that this is a picture of A LOT of dead wasps:

Thousands of dead wasps and ceiling plaster

It all started back in the summer when I noticed some wasps buzzing around Tom's bedroom window.  As I watched I realised that they were in fact going in through a hole above the lintel and so there must be a nest in the wall.  As a family we are not over keen on wasps (in fairness who is?) as Simon and I react badly to stings and the boys are scared of them.  They can also be a real pain when you are eating outside.  That said these wasps were not at all annoying or aggressive and we could eat our meals in peace.  We therefore decided that maybe the best thing would be to let Nature take her course, allowing the wasps to die over winter and the queens to relocate to new nests next year. (Old nests are not reused).

However, as with all the best laid plans this was not to be.  When in Tom's room it was possible to hear a lot of chewing activity in the nest, followed later by the appearance of an ominous brown damp patch on his ceiling.  There was a crack big enough for a wasp to squeeze through between the wall and the ceiling and wasps were in fact arriving in the room.

Tom was moved to the loft bedroom and we bought some wasp killing spray.  Despite this being deadly to wasps you need to get the spray into the nest but as there was 60cms of wall between the entrance and the nest this proved impossible.   Enter our bee keeping friend, Richard who bravely said he'd don his bee suit, dig up though the ceiling and spray directly into the nest from underneath.  Errm , more best laid plans and all that ....

He managed to dig some of the plaster away but where we had previously had calm wasps, now, when their home was under threat they became very angry, stinging Richard through his bee suit and then getting up inside it, stinging him umpteen times. Having got this far and despite my yelling from the other side of the door to get out NOW, Richard was not one to give up and he made enough of a hole to spray up into the nest before exiting with a cartoon-like trail of wasps following him down through the house and outside. 

The next day there were hundreds, if not a few thousand, wasps dead on the floor but a lot of agitated live ones flying round the room.  That night we (well Simon actually) went back into the room and sprayed more wasp killer into the nest.  It was then a waiting game as the product does not kill the larvae and these needed to hatch, at which point they would be poisoned by the remaining spray in the nest and die.  Over the next few weeks more and more dead wasps dropped to the floor until finally we decided, with some several thousand now dead, that the nest was wasp free and we (by which of course I mean Simon) could try and dig it out.

Cutting through the ceiling and into the nest

The papery base of the nest

The hole where the nest had been

The honeycomb interior of the nest

The nest was wonderful, a fine example of nature's creativity at her best but sadly a case of a bad choice of location for this colony.  Wasps are actually very useful in the garden, eating aphids and other pests and it is generally only in late summer when they gorge on fallen fruit and become somewhat intoxicated do they tend to sting more.  

We also have found a hornet's nest in an ash tree in the valley and this one we have left. We have not seen any hornets up near the house and like the wasps, all bar the queen will die over winter.  There are still a few flying around though as the mild autumn continues but soon they will be gone until next year ... when we hope they will chose a new home equally far away from the house.


Hornets leaving their nest (September)


7 comments :

  1. What an adventure. That is a whole lot of wasps in a bedroom. We've had wasp nests in the roof. One took four goes for the wasp man to kill. I don't like killing them, but they were attacking people as they came up the path. On the upside, my cabbages have never been so clear of caterpillars.

    We have hornets visiting on a regular basis. Far less likely to be a nuisance. I'm quite fond of them. Although they did ruin a mothing evening this year. They fly at night, to a light, to catch the moths. Long comment, but I do like my bugs!

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    1. I quite like hornets too and also felt sad killing the wasps that had not been aggressive towards us ... both do such a lot of good in the garden. I certainly had no aphids this year!

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  2. Oh my goodness, that is a lot! I hate wasps. Glad you managed to get it sorted :) #whatsthestory. Dean of Little Steps

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    1. Apparently nests can be as big as 4 footballs and hold anything up to 13,000 wasps. Ours was limited in size by the beams but still about the size of 2 footballs!

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  3. That doesn't look like a friendly sight, I wouldn't have wanted to have been in the room with all of them flying around! Popping in from What's the Story?

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    1. The day after Richard sprayed the nest they were NOT happy wasps and we could only go in after dark!

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  4. Glad you managed to get rid of the wasps in the end. I would have definitely freaked out if we had a wasps nest in the house - I'm not very good with any kind of flying insect, let alone ones which sting!

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