Wasp Myths De-Bugged
|Uncovering the truth about wasps.|
1. A Single Wasp Sting Can Kill You?True: In most cases you will see nothing more than a slight reddening of the skin, but in a tiny proportion of cases people stung by wasps will experience a severe, systemic allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. Although life threatening, stings resulting in anaphylaxis, claim less than ten deaths in the UK each year.
People who know they have the allergy, carry a medical device called an epi-pen, that if administered quickly will save their life.
2. Wasps are more dangerous than bees.False: The temperament of wasp and bee colonies can vary significantly. People do get attacked more often by wasps, but only because wasps tend to be better concealed in hedges, lofts, lawns and undergrowth etc, so are accidently disturbed far more often.
Although the likelihood is higher, the risks they pose are the same. People most at risk include people disturbing them within a confined space, or those with poor mobility. This means they are unable to quickly escape to a place of safety.
3. Wasps Stings Don't Stay In You.False: many people will smear a wasp on the skin when they defensively hit it. This can leave the sting in place. Most of the time it is withdrawn by the wasp, but we do seen stings still in place, especially with larger species of wasp like the hornet.
Wasps don't have barbed stings like bees, because the sting is used repeatedly to subdue insect prey and not simply self defense.
4. Wasps Nests Are The Same As Bees NestsFalse: Social wasps nests are made of paper - wood pulp. They collect the soft outer layer of decaying timber and chew it into a pulp with saliva. They then use this to build the nest including the nests brood cells. Bees by contrast make brood cells from wax.
5. Wasps Don't Produce Honey.False: Some species of wasp such as the Mexican honey wasp, do produce small amounts of honey.
6. Wasps Don't Re-use Old Nests.False: We have seen at least three examples of wasps nesting within or on, older nests.
7. Wasps Will Chase You.True: Compound eyes are designed to pin-point movement. If you are within six feet of the nest or come between the wasps and the entrance, you are going to be visited! At close range wasps can accelerate quicker than you, so you won't have a chance.
Once they sting you, you are marked with a chemical that helps other wasps home in on you more easily. Hornets will pursue you for over 100 meters in clear line of sight.
8. Wasps Can Bite.True: Larger species of wasps can nip you, but you'll feel the sting first. Wasps regularly eat right through plaster board walls and ceilings. We see about a dozen cases of this each year and it can be terrifying for the occupant, especially waking up covered in them.
9. Vinegar is the best cure for a sting.False: We have tried all manner of wonderful cures, from lavender oil, to vinegar and even WD40. The very best cure however is a venom extractor. We always carry them, and although they don't do much for the stinging sensation, the swelling recedes very quickly. Definitely worth the investment, and chemical free!
10. Wasps only like sweet things.False: At the start of the year they are busy developing the nest and this requires millions of insects over the short life of the nest, meaning protein is harvested at the beginning of the year. Later as the nest matures, their attention starts to move to sweeter, fermented foods.
Wasps Truly are Remarkable Insects.