Wasp Myths De-Bugged
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, which 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 have better-concealed nests in hedges, lofts, lawns and undergrowth, making accidental disturbance more likely.
Although you are more liable to be stung by a wasp, the risks they pose are the same.
People most at risk include people disturbing them within a confined space, or those with reduced mobility. Meaning they are unable to escape to a place of safety fast enough.
3. Wasps Stings Don’t Stay In You.
False: Many people will smear a wasp on the skin when they defensively hit it. This impact can leave the sting in place.
Most of the time it’s withdrawn by the wasp, but we have seen stings still in place, especially with larger species of wasps, like the European Hornet.
Wasps don’t have barbed stings like bees because the sting is repeatedly used to subdue insect prey and not simply self-defence.
4. Wasps Nests Are The Same As Bees Nests
False: Social wasps nests get constructed out of wood pulp, or paper. 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 nest’s 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 Reuse Old Nests.
False: We have seen at least three examples of wasps nesting within or on deceased nests.
7. Wasps Will Chase You.
True: Compound eyes are designed to pinpoint movement. If you’re within six feet of the nest or come between the wasps and the entrance, you’re going to get a visit!
At close range, wasps can accelerate much faster than humans. You won’t have a chance.
Once stung, your skin will be marked with a chemical that helps other wasps home in on you more quickly. 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 plasterboard 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 must be 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!