Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Like Ziggy, we have wasps, though so far, we haven't had any problems with them. This is the second time in the past few years that we've hosted a wasp nest, and I'm not that bothered by it. I'm pretty sure they'll be the common Vespula vulgaris but when I looked them up in our insect book, the whole page of true wasps all looked so similar, I couldn't tell the difference between them in the picture, never mind flying about.

The front of our house has tiles covering the wall between the windows of one of the bedrooms upstairs and the front room downstairs, and the last time, the queen had found her way in behind these tiles. After a while, we noticed a stream of wasps coming and going, so I put up a sign in the front window, warning people to keep away. Worked fine and I think I was the only one to get stung, when I was working close by and managed to trap one in the crook of my arm. I swore, but let it go.

This time they're going in through the hole where the overflow pipes from the tanks in the loft exit. I've checked in the cupboard housing the tanks, but can't see or hear the wasps, so assume they're living in the space between the upstairs floor and the downstairs ceiling. As long as they stay there, I can't see them doing any harm. The entrance is a good 5 metres above the ground, so we don't go anywhere near it.

Actually, they do quite a lot of good in the garden. All through the early part of the year they feed their larvae meat, in the form of small insects and bits of carrion, so they're performing quite an effective pest control function for me. It's only after the larvae pupate that the workers are freed from this child-care role and start looking for sweet stuff which they eat themselves. This is why, in August, they become such a pest, attracted to jam jars and fruit.

So I shan't be doing anything about our temporary guests, unless, of course, they break through into our part of the house. Then I'd get the pest control people in, of course.


Merri said...

I am freaked out by wasps as I am allergic to their stings. Naturally they always make a 'bee line' for me(pun intended) as I am probably leaping around when I see them.
They DO do a lot of good in the garden but this time of year when WE want to eat out doors they are terrible bullies..

Rob Clack said...

Yes, I'm pretty lucky being allergic to nothing. I get stung from time to time, of course, but it just hurts, swells, itches, goes away.

I did panic slightly once when Jen was away and I was supping red wine on the patio as the light faded. I reached idly for the glass and took a sip, imagining that the scratchy feeling in my mouth was the deposit from the bottom of the bottle. Until it stung me inside my lip.

My only real fear was from not knowing where the swelling would stop. I didn't imagine it would block my mouth or throat, but I couldn't be sure, never having been stung in the mouth before.

Fortunately an ex-nurse neighbour told me to put vinegar (Bees require Basic solutions, eg bicarb of soda) while wAsps need Acid) on it, which reduced the swelling rapidly. Rather too rapidly, actually, since, when I collected Jenny from Heathrow early the next morning it had gone down completely and I got no sympathy whatever!