Should you leave a wasps’ nest alone?
Should you leave a wasps’ nest alone?

Wasps are extremely beneficial to humans. Moreover, if you leave a wasps’ nest alone, the wasps will not bother you. However, a wasp in distress will emit a pheromone that will send the rest of the colony members into a stinging frenzy. Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly.

Wasps should be seen as the farmers’ and gardeners’ friends. Wasps are so adept at controlling pests that farmers deploy them to protect crops.

Wasp biology

The common wasp has a black and yellow striped body with an obvious division between the thorax and abdomen. In addition, it has a characteristic ‘anchor’ shaped mark on it’s face.

The life cycle of wasps is complex, intricate and interesting. The queen hibernates during the winter and emerges in spring. She then searches for an ideal site for her colony. Once the site has been located, the queen uses chewed tree bark to build a nest. Once, the initial part of the construction is completed the queen lays up to 20 eggs. The first born brood of sterile females work on enlarging the nest and providing food for subsequent eggs. In the summer, the average wasp nest will contain, on average, 4000 individuals.  The completed nest is 30 cm in diameter. 

In late summer, the young queens emerge and they are fertilised by the summer males.   The young queens fly away in search of a suitable site for hibernation. After that, in the autumn, wasps become sluggish and temperamental. At this time of year, wasps become aggressive after feeding on over ripe fruit. The fertilised queens are the only wasps to survive winter. Wasps do not return to the same nest. However, they may build a nest nearby if conditions are favourable. 

Wasps and Wasps’ nests: distribution and habitat

The Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and the German Wasp (Vespula germanica) are common throughout Britain and Northern Europe. Wasps construct their nests in eaves, roof spaces, trees, walls and soil banks. Wasps especially enjoy sharing human habitation.

To leave or not to leave a wasps’ nest alone? Human interaction with wasps


The wasps behaviour changes throughout the year. In springtime, the worker wasps are busy collecting food for the young. Hence, they have little time to bother humans. Insects are the natural food supply of wasps but they will take advantage of food provided by humans. Skips and bins are a ready supply of nutrition.  

Later in the summer, there is less need for the workers to supply the young with food. As a result, the workers start to seek out tasty, sweet food sources. Consequently, it is at this time that wasps start to become a nuisance around kitchens, shops and food factories.

The medical impact of wasp stings

In the majority of cases, a single wasp sting is just unpleasant and painful. A mild to moderate reaction requires the following treatment:

  1. Use soap and water to wash the sting area and remove the venom.
  2. Use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
  3. Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection.
  4. Cover with a bandage.

However, a sting in a sensitive part of the body may have more serious consequences. In a small number of cases a sting may result in anaphylactic shock. Consequently, this extreme reaction to the wasp venom requires immediate medical treatment. Multiple stings from a large number of wasps will also need swift medical attention. 

How to control wasps and the procedure for dealing with wasps’ nests

Should you leave a nest alone. Avoiding contact with wasps

Top tips for avoiding a wasp incident:

  • Yellow and white coloured clothing will attract insects.
  • Many insects cannot see red clothing.
  • Never walk barefoot.
  • Avoid wearing perfume, aftershave and hairspray.
  • Avoid leaving outside/porch lights on any longer than you need at night time.
  • Do not kill a solitary wasp. The dead wasp body will release a chemical alarm that signals other wasps and sends them into attack mode. 
  • Seal bins and avoid leaving food/picnic containers in the garden.
  • Seal all voids in garden furniture, play equipment and out houses.  

Should the homeowner leave the wasps’ nest alone?

Wasps play a positive role in a garden ecosystem. They reduce the pest population because they feed their larvae on insects and caterpillars. They also pollinate crops such as spinach and melons. The nest should be left well alone unless the wasps pose a threat to public health. A wasp may land on your skin to inspect a smell but they will soon fly away if you stay calm.

Wasps can be controlled using readily available commercial products. However, the homeowner will face two problems:

  1. The homeowner may find it difficult to access the wasp nest. The queen wasp favours elevated locations such as eaves and loft spaces. Furthermore, a general treatment of a loft space will usually be ineffective and may pose a threat to bats. 
  2. Aerosol sprays based on pyrethroids and pyrethrins cause hyper-activity in wasps. 

It may be best for the homeowner to leave the wasps alone during the summer season. Then, in the winter, seal points of entry and potential nesting sites. 

Wasp control by the experts at

The technicians from will locate and access the wasps’ nest. In conjunction with the homeowner, a decision will be made on the potential impact of the nest location on public health.  

  • The professionals have access to a range of insecticides that are not available to the public.  
  • The technicians are fully trained and experienced.
  • Insecticide is applied directly to the entrance of the nest. Dust formulations are applied to alighting areas using injection tubes. Injector nozzles will improve penetration.
  • have the equipment and tools to access high level nests.
  • The technicians have a full range of protective safety clothing.  

In conclusion, the primary role of insects within the garden ecosystem is to pollinate and control insects. So, expert pest control methods have to be employed. The technicians have the expertise to avoid carrying out potentially lethal treatments on non-pest wasp species and bees. 

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