Wasps can be dangerous to everyone across Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. They are brown in color with yellow or red markings, they are long, slender, and hairless. Most wasps measure about ¾ of an inch, have a pinched waist, 6 legs, two pairs of wings, antennae, and a stinger. They are predatory in nature and have biting mouth parts. Food sources include nectar and insects. There are solitary, social, and parasitic wasps. The social wasps live in colonies consisting of thousands of individuals where female workers take care of the nest. Solitary wasps leave their eggs along to hatch. While predatory wasps feed off other insects and small animals, parasitic wasps use caterpillars and spiders as hosts to lay their eggs in. Once hatched, the host serves as a food source for the larvae.
There is a great variety of species and appearance varies greatly among them. Colors can be black and metallic blue or green and sizes can range from minuscule to a few centimeters. Wasps are beneficial to agriculture by pollinating flowers and controlling crop pest population. When threatened, wasps sting and they can sting several times.
At the end of the summer the queens of certain species lay unfertilized eggs that grow into males, which will fertilize future queens. Fertilized females seek shelter over the cold season and lay eggs the following spring. Once hatched, the workers will build a nest and keep the larvae fed. All workers and males will not survive the cold.
One popular species of social wasp is called yellow jackets because of their distinct yellow and black color pattern. They grow up to 16mm in length and exhibit a thin waist. While food sources include other pests, they also scavenge for meat and sugary materials around garbage cans and picnics. Yellow jackets nest close to the ground preferably in holes of structures. Queens build nests to lay eggs into and take care of feeding their offspring once hatched. After the pupal stage the adult yellow jacket lives only one season. They feed on other small animals, nectar, and human food sources just like other species of wasps. Yellow jackets also live in colonies and by fall there are roughly 1000 workers, which are all sterile females. When males appear at the end of the summer they mate and turn the females into queens for the following year, which will hibernate until them. All workers and males will not survive the cold. Managing yellow jackets starts with a free inspection during which one of our pest control professionals locate the nest and establish a treatment plan. Preventative measures involve cleaning garbage cans and keeping them closed, in addition to cleaning up all possible food sources outside such as decaying fruit fallen from a tree.