Wasps can be a bit of a pest in the summer months in the UK but they have a job to do so please dont kill them

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readApr 21, 2023

Wasps can be a bit of a pest in the summer months in the UK but they have a job to do so please dont kill them

There are over 7,000 wasp species living in the UK, comprising a huge variety of solitary and social species. The majority are parasitoids, which have young that eat insects or spiders alive. However, the most commonly seen wasps are the black and yellow social species.

Colonies of social wasps are considered annoying pests — they often nest in manmade structures and deal out painful stings if you get too close. Yet despite our grievances, the ecosystem relies on these underappreciated insects.

So what are the benefits of wasps? Natural pest control

Wasps are probably best known for disrupting summer picnics, but they are very important in keeping the ecosystem balanced.

Without wasps, the world could be overrun with spiders and insects. Each summer, social wasps in the UK capture an estimated 14 million kilogrammes of insect prey, such as caterpillars and greenflies. Perhaps we should be calling them a gardener’s friend. Adult wasps don’t live very long, so they don’t need protein. They’ve just got to load up on carbs,

When on the hunt for nectar, wasps can also become accidental pollinators by travelling from plant to plant carrying pollen. While their contribution to pollination may not be as substantial as bees’, wasps still play a valuable part.

Although wasps may cause us strife in the summer months — and leave some to question the point of them — these insects play a crucial role in maintaining harmony in the ecosystem.

We certainly would not be able to cope in a world without them. So why would you want to slot them? British wildlife is under threat. The animals and plants that make our island unique are facing a fight to survive. Hedgehog habitats are disappearing, porpoises are choking on plastic and ancient woodlands are being paved over.

They are clever little things, you will find the first wasp you see is a scout wasp looking for food so keep your food covered you should do that anyway, it won’t stop the Wasps from coming but if it’s covered it won’t be able to land on the food, even a few tea cloths will help.

However here’s a neat little trick the moment you see that first wasp try to trap it under a cup or a glass, that way it can’t go back and fetch its mates who will suddenly appear.

And here is the reason why you should never kill it when you swat and kill a wasp Dying wasps emit a chemical that will attract others. If you see one close to you dont flap about like someone demented, it does not want to sting you, so sit still for a few moments it will go away flapping around like a demented demon will only anger it and then it will sting you.

It’s FALSE that Wasps are only attracted to sugary food and drinks

Early in the summer, wasps are busy hunting protein to feed their young, so they’re more likely to go for the meat on your sandwich.

However, towards the end of summer, wasp larvae pupate for about a week before emerging as adults. Once there are no more larvae to feed, the workers in the colony have less to do. This is when they tend to bother us.”

It’s also FALSE that a jammy DIY trap will lure wasps away from your picnic

Firstly, a beer trap is more likely to be effective. Secondly, wasp experts reckon this is a high-risk strategy.

“Beekeepers lay beer traps near hives to lure wasps away and stop them from raiding the Bee colony,” “It’s possible that putting out a trap like this could lure wasps away but it’s more likely to lure them closer to you.”

TRUE: Where one wasp ventures, others follow

Wasps are team players. When one of them finds a food source, it doesn’t keep the discovery to itself — it returns to the nest to tell its friends. Hence the trapping it under a cup or a glass I have mentioned

Common misconceptions

“People tend to think that wasps are intentionally seeking to sting you. But they are doing quite the opposite. They would rather avoid you! They are only interested in your food, it’s a free meal which they latch onto without having to do any actual work. Wasps get a lot of bad press compared to their more popular cousins, bees. But while they may not be as cute, they are just as important as they have a job to do in our ecosystem and play a key role in controlling garden pests such as aphids, caterpillars and flies and pollinating flowers.

Incidentally, moving on to Bees for a moment it’s only honeybees that die nobly in defence of the colony once they’ve stung you. We may be suckers for the rotund, fuzzy cuteness of bumblebees, but they can sting repeatedly — just like a wasp.

What to do if you’ve been stung by a wasp

No one wants to be stung, but if it does happen, here are Professor Logan’s instructions:

“First, remove the stinger. Scrape the sting sideways with something like a bank card edge or fingernails. Don’t ever pinch it as it will spread the venom further. It can be treated by using a cold compress to reduce the swelling and there are creams and ointments you can buy in a pharmacy which can alleviate the symptoms. The key is to keep the sting clean, washing it with warm soapy water. Keep an eye out for infection — if this happens, see a doctor as you may need antibiotics.

“Dial 999 if you have difficulty breathing, a swollen face, mouth or throat, nausea or vomiting, a fast heart rate, dizziness or loss of consciousness, or difficulty swallowing. See your GP or call 111 for small, local reactions.”

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.