It is that time of the year when you are likely to spot more wasps, both outside and inside your home. What about the wave of wasps every spring?
7;s the deal with spring wasps?
If it’s not mid-spring where you live and a large number of wasps buzz around your home or property, the likely culprit is a wasp nest you haven’t found yet. Spend some time walking around your home looking for a visible nest or opening – like a crack in the soffit or an opening under some flashes – where the wasps are clearly going in and out. At that point, you will have to deal with the nest yourself with an insecticide or call an exterminator.
But in the spring it is a bit different. Rather than a steady stream of wasp traffic to and from a particular point in your house or in a nearby tree, there’s a Walking Dead-esque, aimless zombie tap of sorts. You may see more than one wasp outside your house at a time, but they are not together. You will also see more wasps invading your home – this time of year is the best time to find a few wasps hopping around the ceiling.
So what’s the deal? Why tap-tap-tap so many lone wolf wasps just around? You don’t see a hive’s work drones at work – because wasp colonies are dying out every year and the work drones aren’t even around to bother you. What you see are the queens from last year on reconnaissance missions.
Each fall, paper queen wasp queens mate and then find a snug place to hibernate – like a hollow in a tree, under a log, or even tucked away in your garage. Come in the spring, usually once the temperature is consistently around 50F or so, they wake up en masse and start looking for a place to build a new nest.
That’s where the slow-moving tap-tap behavior comes into play. They may look like they are wandering around drunk, but in reality they are carefully examining the structure of your home in search of an ideal place to build a nest.
What should you do with the wasps?
For the most part, the curious queens are harmless. Most of them are not going to build a nest on your property, despite seemingly constant attention. They will sting, but only if thwarted. Rather than going out of your way to wipe out the random paper wasp queens that just float around your neighborhood, a much better use of your energy is to check your home and outbuildings for the start of new nests and places where the wasps access.
- Look for gaps in your trim, soffits, behind the dashboard. Wherever the wasp can access an internal cavity that they will explore. Properly attach any loose pieces of exterior details to your home or caulk over holes to keep bugs out.
- Check all openings, such as crawl space vents and attic openings for intact shielding. Replace the shield if it is missing or damaged.
- While you’re at it, watch the actual window screens. Even if there are no visible holes, it is possible that the screen is a little skewed in the frame and the wasps are sneaking through the small opening.
- Look for the start of nesting. Each paper wasp nest starts with a small stem that is attached to part of the structure and built from there. In the early stages, paper wasp nests look like a tiny papier-mâché daisy. Removing the little “daisy” early and killing the queen will save yourself the headache of dealing with hundreds of wasps later.
- Keep checking your home throughout spring, any starter nests you may have missed will continue to grow and be easier to identify as the season progresses.
While wasps have an unpleasant sting and certainly none of us want a wasp nest on the doorstep or in the playset our kids use, paper wasps are actually handy to have on hand (especially for gardeners). They are prolific hunters, killing spiders, caterpillars and other pests that they feed back into the nest by their larvae.
Nevertheless, it is no fun having them hanging over your head when trying to grill or relax on the weekend – so actively look for their nest during the spring to avoid a mid-summer encounter with a fully populated nest .