05 May 2020

Why wasps sting

There's not a lot of love for wasps out there and it's not hard to see why.

Their erratic behaviour and threatening presence can ruin many a beer garden or picnic. 

But wasps are not just an annoyance - they're a public health pest.

In this guest blog, Pest-Tech's Kelly Farrant (former Royal Engineer turned pest pro) talks about wasp behaviour and why it's important to leave tackling them to the professionals. 

pest tech  guest blog wasps

We know that different people react to a sting in different ways.

Most people can suffer a wasp sting and after a short period of pain, will be totally fine. Yet for some people wasp stings can be deadly, producing an allergic reaction which causes something called an anaphylactic shock.

But this is where it gets tricky and is why they're so dangerous.

A person who has been stung before, and suffered only a mild reaction, may think that they aren't "allergic" to wasp stings and become complacent.

However, if you are stung again in the future you can have a vastly different response to it, which if left untreated can be critical. 

It's important to remember this, because if you're considering dealing with a wasps nest yourself on the basis that you think you aren't allergic - you could be wrong. 

What's more, if a wasp attacks you it can sting you repeatedly.

A wasp's stinger is smooth, like a needle, so it doesn’t lose its stinger when it draws it back out of your skin. This is completely different from a bee, as their stingers are barbed and when inserted they are lodged in place.

So you may not have an allergic reaction to one wasp sting, but how about the same wasp stinging you over and over? 

And how about all its friends?

At the height of summer the average wasp nest holds around three to six thousand of these insects, which when called upon will attack you to defend their nest.

Why do wasps attack?

Wasps appear to be placid when you see them from afar, toing and froing from their nest, and if left alone pose no danger, which is why they don't always need to be treated.

However they become very aggressive when they feel threatened.

Within the nest, the wasps have different jobs. You can’t always see it, but there will be some working on the outside of the nest, others will be doing nest maintenance on the inside and looking after the larvae.

Sometimes you will see a wasp sitting at the entrance of a nest, almost like a lookout or sentry.

When a person or animal, stumbles across a nest, either on purpose or by accident, the lookouts are triggered to protect the nest and become aggressive very quickly.

Social wasps use phermones to communicate information, so they can coordinate their members in the numerous activities of the colony, which includes alarms and nest defence. They will come out in force to ensure they get you away from their home and they will attempt to sting you in the process.

Tools, training and treatment plans

Considering the dangers that they pose, I would always recommend you use a pest management professional to deal with a wasp nest.

Having treated hundreds of nests, I speak from first-hand experience when I say that the wasp behaviour can change in seconds and it can be an unsettling experience when they attack.

The video below shows a nest that I had just treated and the reaction of the wasps.

A pest management professional spends a lot of time and effort ensuring they are competent, that their qualifications are current and that they have the correct equipment in order to complete the job safely.

On arrival to your job, they will do a survey; assessing the situation, carrying out a standard risk assessment and an environmental one, asking questions. This is vital, as it will ensure the safety of you, themselves and anyone else in the area, whether that's your family, colleagues, customers.

And dealing with a wasp's nest correctly means having the right tools to carry out the job efficiently and safely, which a professionally trained pest controller will have.

Although you can find them in sheds, wall cavities or even on the ground, the majority of the time a wasp nest will be at height.

If you attempt to use a ladder to investigate a wasp nest and you threaten a nest by your presence whilst up the ladder, you have nowhere to escape and you could become a casualty either by the large amount of stings you receive or a fall from height.

Having treated hundreds of nests, I speak from first-hand experience when I say that the wasp behaviour can change in seconds.

Kelly Farrant, Pest-Tech

A pest management professional will instead use a telescopic extension lance for treating wasp nests, fitted to a duster. 

If treating the nest from the inside, then they will use smaller equipment like a bulb duster, so they can extract quickly if they get aggressive.

A qualified pest controller will also have the knowledge needed in order to use professional pesticide products, which are not available to the public.

And when treating a nest, you may be putting yourself in danger if you have not got the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

In short, sticking on a pair of gardening gloves and whacking a nest with a stick is not going to produce the results you want, and you could end up seriously injured. 

Do the smart thing: if you have a wasp nest that needs treating visit the BPCA website, use the Find a pest controller tool and contact a pest management professional in your area.

And for more information about wasps, visit


If you'd like to write a guest blog for the BPCA website, get in touch

Source: Online

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