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What Problems Are Caused By Wasps

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  • 28-06-2023
What Problems Are Caused By Wasps

This page asks: what problems are caused by wasps? Bournemouth Pest Solutions offer wasp pest control throughout Poole and Bournemouth. Find out more about if wasps do any real harm and the symptoms of a wasp sting.

Problems Caused By Wasps

Although wasps serve as important predators of harmful garden insects, they can pose challenges to humans. The sting, a defence mechanism, injects a painful, toxic venom that can cause swelling and itching. Reaction severity varies among individuals, from minor discomfort to severe allergic reactions, including potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Those with a history of severe reactions should carry adrenaline autoinjectors and seek immediate medical help if stung.

Wasp nests, often found in frequently accessed areas, can pose additional risks. While tempting to tackle, it's best to leave nest removal to pest control professionals. As summer ends, and worker wasps aggressively forage, caution is advised. Balancing the safety and preservation of these important insects is key. Despite their rights to coexist, decisive action is needed when human safety is threatened, especially through professional control measures when necessary.

What Problems Are Caused By Wasps? Wasp Pest Control Poole And Bournemouth

Do wasps do any real harm?

While wasps play a valuable role in our ecosystem, including controlling pests and scavenging for larvae, they can also cause harm. Their stings inject venom, causing pain, redness and swelling.

In severe cases, stings can lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, characterised by symptoms such as respiratory distress and facial swelling. Immediate medical attention is required in such instances.

Additionally, wasps, due to their visits to dustbins and carcasses, can carry diseases, posing a risk of food contamination. This threat extends to pets as well, warranting veterinary advice if they're stung.

Despite their beneficial aspects, the potential harm from wasps, particularly in the summer and early winter when they're most active, necessitates careful management. This often involves professional pest control to safely handle nests, especially in areas of frequent human access, while respecting the ecological role of these insects.

How do wasps affect you?

Wasps can pose a significant nuisance, particularly in late summer and winter. Worker wasps, seeking sweet substances like fruit and jams, may intrude into kitchens, increasing the risk of stings if provoked. The insects tend to be more irritable in cooler weather, and earlier in the year, they can cause minor damage to wooden structures while building nests.

The risk of wasp stings, coupled with their seemingly aggressive behaviour, can create anxiety for many. While most stings result in only localised swelling and brief pain, treatable with over-the-counter remedies, severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention. Furthermore, wasps are most likely to sting as their life cycle ends, making timely nest management crucial. However, old nests, which aren't reused, need not be removed. Professional pest control is recommended for handling wasp issues, balancing human safety with the ecological role of these insects.

Why do wasps sting?

Wasps utilise their venomous stings primarily for hunting prey and nest defence. They are also known to use them for self-defence, and we humans often become the recipients of these stings, especially when wasps perceive us as a threat.

Unlike honey bees, wasps do not meet their end after stinging. Honey bees possess barbed stings that embed into the skin, causing the bee to tear away its abdomen and die after stinging.

However, wasps have smooth stings, which allow them to sting repeatedly without self-inflicted harm. The wasp's sting can be retracted smoothly from the skin without any detrimental effect on the insect itself.

Even in the unlikely event that a wasp depletes its venom supply, it can simply produce more. This characteristic is mostly universal among wasps, with a few exceptions in certain South American species.

Therefore, the wasp's ability to sting multiple times is a critical factor in its survival and propagation. Despite the discomfort they may cause, it's important to remember that wasp stings are a natural response to perceived threats, highlighting the need for careful interaction and professional pest control when necessary.

WHY DO WASPS STING? Wasp Pest Control Poole And Bournemouth

Treating wasp stings

Mild to moderate reactions to wasp stings can be managed at home using simple remedies:

Start by washing the sting area with soap and water to remove the venom. This helps minimise the effects of the sting. To reduce swelling and pain, apply a cold pack to the affected area. 

Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection. If desired, cover it with a bandage. For itching or skin irritation, hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or a bath with baking soda or colloidal oatmeal can provide relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be taken to alleviate discomfort associated with wasp stings.

Antihistamine drugs such as diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine can help reduce itching. Follow the recommended dosage to avoid side effects. Consider getting a tetanus shot if you haven't had a booster in the last 10 years. Vinegar is a possible home remedy for wasp stings. Soak a cotton ball with apple cider or white vinegar, and gently apply it to the affected area for a few minutes to alleviate pain and inflammation.

Severe allergic reactions to wasp stings require immediate medical attention. If you have an EpiPen, administer it as soon as symptoms appear. For individuals with a history of wasp allergies, it is recommended to administer the EpiPen immediately after being stung and then call emergency services. 

Treatment for severe reactions may involve additional epinephrine to calm the immune system, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if breathing is temporarily stopped, and the use of oxygen, steroids, or other medications to improve breathing. Always seek prompt medical care for severe reactions to ensure appropriate treatment.

SYMPTOMS OF A WASP STING - Wasp Pest Control Poole And Bournemouth

Symptoms of a wasp sting

A wasp's sting transmits venom into humans, triggering reactions that vary from mild to severe. For most, stings result in sharp pain or burning at the site, accompanied by redness, swelling, and itching. These symptoms usually present as a raised welt, often with a tiny white mark where the stinger punctured the skin, receding within hours.

However, 'large local reactions' indicate more severe symptoms. They involve extreme redness, swelling that escalates for days, and sometimes, nausea or vomiting. Despite the discomfort, these symptoms usually diminish over a week and aren't life-threatening like anaphylactic shock.

If you experience a large local reaction, it's essential to notify your doctor. Over-the-counter antihistamines might be recommended to alleviate discomfort. Even though one intense reaction doesn't ensure a similar response in future, it's best to avoid wasps where possible to prevent these symptoms.

 Anaphylaxis following a wasp sting 

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic response to wasp venom. Symptoms surface rapidly, necessitating immediate emergency attention.

Indicators of this severe allergic reaction include extensive swelling of the face, lips or throat; hives or itching beyond the sting area; breathing difficulties; dizziness; a sudden drop in blood pressure; light-headedness; loss of consciousness; nausea or vomiting; diarrhoea; stomach cramps; and a weak or racing pulse.

Not all these symptoms will occur with every sting, but subsequent stings increase the likelihood of experiencing multiple symptoms. For individuals with an anaphylactic history, carrying a 'bee sting kit' containing an EpiPen — an autoinjector of epinephrine — is crucial. This hormone helps stabilise blood pressure, boost the heart rate and strength, and restore normal respiration, countering the effects of anaphylactic shock. Remember, anaphylaxis is a medical emergency demanding immediate treatment.

How to get rid of wasps

To maintain a peaceful and safe environment, it's important to effectively manage and prevent the presence of wasps. Follow these strategies to minimise encounters with these stinging insects:

Covering food is essential to deter wasps. Keep cakes, jams, cookies, and other sweet treats covered when outdoors or near open windows. Also, ensure that food bins have tightly sealed lids to avoid attracting wasps and other pests.

Certain scents repel wasps. Consider using fragrances like tomato stems, fresh mint, ground coffee, and cloves to discourage their presence. Growing strong-smelling herbs indoors, such as mint, can keep wasps away.


Essential oils, particularly peppermint, can be effective repellents. Scatter a few drops of peppermint oil on tissues or cotton balls and place them strategically in your garden, including gaps where wasps tend to gather.

Turn off outside lights at night to avoid attracting insects, which subsequently draw wasps. This helps prevent encounters with hungry wasps near your porch or other areas. Remember not to swat at wasps. Sudden movements and attempts to swat them can provoke them to sting. Stay calm and still allow them to move on without feeling threatened.

Avoid wearing bright colours and planting vibrant flowers, as wasps are attracted to these hues. Opt for light and pale colours like white, tan, cream, or grey, which are less likely to be perceived as a threat. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage and reduce the presence of wasps, ensuring a more peaceful and enjoyable environment.

Bournemouth Pest Solutions offers comprehensive wasp pest control services to domestic and commercial clients in Poole, Bournemouth, Dorset And Hampshire. Our experienced pest controllers can effectively deal with any infestation you may be facing.