Paper WaspPaper wasp are from the family of Vespidae, and they construct nets made of paper-like materials. There are over 200 species of paper wasp in the world. Measuring between 1.9-3.2cm, they have narrow bodies, slender waist, and black wings. Their color depends largely on their species. There are brown wasps with yellow stripes on their abdomen, thorax, and head, and others are reddish.

These insects have a nest with various compartments where they lay eggs and care for their young. The nests which look like inverted umbrellas have no outer shells. Their cells are visible. Paper wasps build their nests on window sills, door frames, eaves of houses, branches of trees, old cloth line, etc. To make the nests, they use plants and animal fiber mixed with saliva and chewed into paper mache-like materials.

Paper wasp are of benefit to the environment in the sense that they help in pest control. They do this by feeding the pests to their larvae.

As agents of pollination, they feed on nectar and pollen grains. they also eat other live insects, caterpillars, flies, Beetle larvae, cricket, and other pests. The adults eat primarily sugary substances like juices form fruits and honeydew. Their larvae grow into adults and help them expand their nests.

In terms of behavior, they are calm insects. They only attack when they or their nests is threatened. When this happens, they can sting. Their stings are painful and may be fatal as it can produce an anaphylactic reaction on their victim.

The Queen

The queen is longer than the other wasps by a quarter-inch. It has appointed lower abdomen.

As with most insects, the Queen is the head of the colony. She lays most of the eggs, feeds her young till they develop and constructs the nests. After the first set of wasp develop, she assumes her position as Queen over her subjects (the workers). The queen builds her nests every year by chewing wood fiber into a pliable pulp.

Most species of paper wasps barely survive the winter. They all die. It is only the queen whose egg has been fertilized that survives the winter and then goes on to establish another colony.

Politics in the Wasps Family

The rise to power is hierarchical, and at all levels, dominance is maintained through aggression and confrontation. At the death of the queen, the most aggressive wasp, take over the reins of power and all the responsibilities of the erstwhile queen. This cycle continues.

It may interest you to note that when workers do not mate, they produce only unfertilized eggs. These eggs develop into males.

What happens to those Queens who do not succeed in establishing their own nest? They simply find a nest and attach themselves. However, they must be willing to submit themselves to the authority of the queen. This means they will lose their place as queens and become workers. According to research, Paper wasps who do this are usually called joiners and are more often than not, sisters of the queen. In an even of the loss or death of the queen, this joiner who should have mated can lay eggs that develop into workers. She, therefore, can become the next queen.

Since rulership is based on aggression, the joiner could dominate the queen and usurp her powers and nest. When and if this happens, the defeated queen and the victorious worker switch places.

Life Cycle of Paper Wasp

Bees and Wasps have a complete life cycle i.e. the undergo the following stages: Egg, Larva, Pupal and Adult Stages. Most times, we get to see only the adult as the eggs and larvae are usually in the nests.

How to Identify Paper Wasps

The symptoms of Wasp bite can either be local or systematic. Each person will have varying reactions. In some cases, a wasp sting can affect just the areas that were stung. Or in more extreme cases, a single wasp sting can affect the entire body. Some of the factors that may impact how severe of a reaction a person may have included, but are not limited to, how may stings, where did the person get stung, the person’s allergic reaction/sensitivity to bee/wasp stings, the age of the person and the general health of the person.

In the case of a person have a minor reaction to a wasp sting can include:

1. Variable (moderate and excruciating) pain and discomfort where the sting occurred.

2. The stung area and the areas around it are swollen.

3. The general area of the skin where the person was stung may become irritated and redder in appearance.

4. Victims experience itching and irradiation in and around the location where the person was stung.

5. Though it is unlikely, in some cases, an infection could occur.

In most cases, the effects of minor wasp sting reactions are temporary. Perhaps from just a few minutes to up to some hours in some cases.

Though considered as minor symptoms, they may still last much longer. In case you were stung by the wasp's multiple times, please seek medical attention. A Sting in the eye also results in breathing problems.

Major Reaction

In a few people, the symptoms and reactions may be severe. It may even take about 20 minutes, a few hours or days for the symptoms to appear. People with food and pollen allergies are prone to having severe Sting reactions. Asthmatic patients and elders are at a higher risk of severe symptoms.

The following are the major reactions of Paper Wasp:

  • Anxiety
  • Swollen faces and lips
  • Pains in joints
  • Vomiting
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Increase heart rate
  • Skin flushing

Anyone exhibiting some or all the above, should seek medical attention immediately or risk losing his or her life.

How to Control Paper Wasp

Although paper wasps are agents of pollination and thus beneficial to the environment, their activities adversely affect birds, insects, bats, and lizards. Humans are not left out here. These wasps make their nests close to people, making humans susceptible to stings.

In an attempt to get rid of theses wasps, people have used all kinds of methods. While some people have used Wasp Sprays, with little or no success, other have tried to destroy the nest physically. This method has not really been effective because apart from being stung by the insects, the wasps always return.

One method that has worked well is the spray of Windex or furniture polish. Before spraying, wait till it is dark and the insects are resting. You can also place mints (peppermints or spearmints) around their nests.

Wasp traps are also effective, especially in the late summer. This is because most wasp you see around the period are Queens which represent thousands of workers.

Lastly, allowing birds to feed on the paper wasp is another easy way to get rid of them.

How To Prevent Paper Wasps Attacks

It is no longer news that these insects live in residential areas with humans and they can be aggressive if threatened. It, therefore, behooves us to be careful in dealing with them.

  • Before cutting down or trimming tree shrubs or hedges or before picking fruits from trees, check for paper wasps. Use repellent oil on fences and walls to wade them off.
  • Be well covered when around risky areas. Stay away from Gardens, Orchards and other places with a history of paper wasp infestation.
  • Wear shoes when outside, especially when walking on grass.
  • Dark colored clothing attracts wasps, avoid them.
  • Scented products like perfumes, soaps, etc. should be avoided when outdoors. Instead, use unscented ones.
  • When you see paper wasp around you, be calm, it will only sting you when it feels threatened by your actions.
  • If you discover paper wasp in or around your house, the safest thing to do is to call licensed pest control agents to help remove them.

Treatment of Wasp Sting

In the event of a paper wasp sting, a medical professional can do the following to help cushion the effect of the Sting.

Wasp Sting can be treated. The treatment, however, depends on the level of severity of the reaction.