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Wasp Insect: Wasp Stings Treatment and Nest Removal

It is a very surprising fact that wasps are beneficial insects that eat harmful insects and their larvae and help in pollination of flowers while in search of nectar. Read on to know more about wasps, their biological life cycle, treatment of stings and finally removal of nests.

There are 11 species of wasps. They vary in their size, coloration, biology and habits. Another factor that they also vary in is their aggressiveness. Some, like hornets are very aggressive and attack in large swarms while others like the paper wasp are relatively passive and attack only when provoked. Sadly, it is estimated that about 200 people die annually in the United States alone from the reactions produced by wasp stings. More people die each year from the effects of insect venom than from spider or snakebites.

The Cycle Of life:

The queen wasp hibernates in the winter and initiates her nest at the beginning of spring. While feeding on captured prey and nectar, she lays her first egg in cells made out of chewed wood and plant debris. The queen looks after and feeds the larvae until the first brood of workers hatch. From then, it becomes the worker’s primary task to gather food, construct the nest and look after the larvae while the queen only lays the eggs.

This goes on for about 3 months. Reproductive males and new queens hatch last and leave the nest to mate. While the male wasp dies soon after mating, the queen looks for a safe place to hibernate over the winter. Around the same time, all workers die and the nest decompose.

Why Wasps Sting:

It is very important to remember that a wasp does not sting unless provoked to do so. Hence avoid swatting or squashing. When attacked, the wasp releases a chemical that signal other wasps to attack.

Effects of Wasp Stings:

The most common reactions to a wasp sting are immediate pain, redness, irritation, itching and swelling in the local area. Toxic reactions occur in the case of multiple stings. In such cases the victims also suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, headache, hypotension, fever and in more severe cases, renal failure and convulsions. In addition, in certain individuals who display allergic reaction, the wasp sting may produce potentially fatal, anaphylactic reactions usually within 30 minutes. In such cases the initial effects would be rashes, nausea, abdominal cramps, palpitations and hypotension.

Treatment of Wasp Stings:

Wasp stings treatment depends on the severity of the condition. It is important to remember that no anti-venom is present for a wasp sting. Majority of the medical treatment required is for the allergic reactions caused by the sting. If the swelling or the hives spreads more than 12 inches from the area where the wasp stung, then a doctor should be consulted immediately as this is a systematic reaction and could be fatal. Otherwise, applying vinegar (apple or white) on the area using a cotton ball is helpful. Ibuprofen is suggested as over the counter pain medication. It usually works well and quickly reduces pain and swelling. Antihistamine creams available are also very helpful.

Wasp Nest Removal:

Wasp nests can be aerial, on the ground, underground or in a cavity depending on the species of the wasp. One of the simplest methods to remove the nests is chemically. Carbamate or organophosphate based chemicals are recommended.
Alternately, the nest can also be removed by any of the following methods.

  • Place a large plastic bag on the nest and break the nest into it. Leaving the bag in the sun or drowning will kill all the wasps.
  • Incase of nests on the ground, place a clear bowl over the nest and press it into the ground so that the wasps cannot escape. As the wasps do not dig a way out, they will starve and die in a few days.
  • In the United States, specially adapted vacuum cleaners are available using which the wasps can be vacuumed out.
  • Non-chemical wasp traps are available that attract the wasps away from sensitive areas.
However, it is always advisable to hire a professional from the pest control company to remove the nest.

Lastly…With good building maintenance, keeping food covered and using safe alternatives like traps, the amount of wasp activity in your surrounding area can be limited. If pesticides have to be used, ensure that a professional pest remover carries out the work and use the least toxic substance available to protect health and environment.

By Ranjan Shandilya
Published: 11/27/2007


Updated January 1, 2017

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