Beware of Wasps!

Early autumn is naturally associated with harvest time, when
during this particular season in the year fruits and vegetables that have been
carefully grown over preceding months in our gardens (and on a much wider scale
by farmers) are generally harvested.
We can also expect to see a gradual change in the colours of the leaves that
have finally served their purpose on deciduous trees, before these are soon
discarded, drop to the ground and form colourful carpets between adjoining trees.
Not only do the trees prepare for the forthcoming winter-so do the insects.
One particular species of flying insect-the wasp-is particularly
evident at this time of year.

These stinging insects are easily identified – usually twice the length
of flies, and much thinner than a bumble bee, they have a yellow head and a
yellow abdomen, with black bands (see above photo).
I mistakenly thought that the wasps seen on the cut section of tree (see entry
dated August 17th, 2006-earlier in this blog) were drinking the sap-they were more likely to have
been chewing the wood, in order to provide building material for their nest.
Once all the young wasp larvae back in the nest have matured towards late summer,
then we are likely to see many more wasps-looking for discarded fruit upon which
to feed, before they die off.
Don’t provoke them -especially if you discover a wasps’ nest –they
will defend their home aggressively, and if you start to kill them, this will
make them angry!
Wasps are in actual fact useful members of the food chain-they feed on other
Only queen wasps survive until the next year, when they start a new colony.
Always be aware that occasionally, some people stung by wasps can have an adverse,
life-threatening reaction-this may be characterised by rapid swelling of fingers, toes, face and the unlucky person has difficulty breathing.
Seek immediate qualified medical assistance.

Sufferers of this condition often wear an SOS-Talisman bracelet or necklace (see above)
An ‘ordinary’ wasp sting can usually be treated by washing with
soap and water, and the affected area treated with ammonia or an alcohol wipe,
followed by antihistamine ointment. Chemists also sell very effective sprays-it
is always good to have one to hand at this time of year.

See the following BBC articles

More information about wasps available HERE

4 Replies to “Beware of Wasps!”

  1. Try also a new article in Primary Health Care by Sue McBean, a nurse & naturalist: 2006 “Prevention and treatment of wasp stings” Vol 16, Part 7, September, pages 19 – 22

  2. Thanks Geraint – you might like to see another article about how newspapers reduce understanding about nature (e.g. too many wasps in 2004 were “angry stingers” and too few in 2005 were “yellow & black friends”!!) – this article is available on-line! It is called Creatures in the news, journalism or journalese. (Institute of Biology published it in April this year.) It is mainly about Craneflies.
    Many thanks Sue-your article is worth a read-thanks for pointing us to it!

  3. At last – 3 years work – my website with many ideas how to prevent getting stung by wasps is on the web now.

    There is also advice on treating wasp stings.

    The main message is that if you understand a little about the biology of wasps, you would be able to avoid being stung most of the time. See

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