Find out what’s buzzing in the garden and countryside
Never mind things going bump in the night. What about things that go buzz in the day?
There’s a new pest in town: with a distinct yellow band at the rear, a fine, bright yellow ‘belt’ at the waist, and a black head with an orange or yellow face.
“That’s not new,” you say, “that sounds like a wasp to me.”
Well, it does buzz around like a wasp, but this insect is bigger and brings bad news for British wildlife whenever it is seen.
We’re talking here about the Asian Hornet – first seen in the UK in 2016, but now appearing more often than ever.
They are slightly smaller than British Hornets (which are often nearly twice the size of a wasp, so you’ll get the idea of what to look for).
They are also distinctive, as Asian Hornets have bright yellow tips to their legs, while our native Hornets have dark legs.
Why bad news?
Asian Hornets eat Honey Bees, so if you spot one call us immediately, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. That alerts the good folks at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who are working with teams of experienced pest professionals – such as us – to try and completely eradicate the Asian Hornet from the UK.
The good news is that they are still a rarer sight than the European Hornet – and they aren’t a common sight either.
Hornets only occasionally enter houses, but if you do see one, indoors or outside, then call us.
Wasps, bees and hoverflies
Common wasps can be recognized as they generally have a black marking on the front of their face shaped like an anchor. They are social; and nests – about the size of a football – can house as many as 8,000 workers!
But remember, wasps will usually only attack a person if they feel threatened, so keep still or back away slowly when you see one nearby: don’t flail your arms and most will simply buzz off a moment later.
But if they do get anxious, they emit a pheromone that alerts the colony, and that can bring hundreds of wasps out in a defensive, stinging frenzy.
Beware wasp stings
At best, wasp stings will be painful (more painful than a bee sting), but they can also sting repeatedly, unlike bees, which can only sting once and then die.
The worst thing is that wasp stings can send people into anaphylaxis, which could prove fatal.
If you are concerned that a wasp is in or around your property then give us a call, never try to tackle a nest yourself.
Recognize when not to worry
There are around 9,000 species of wasp in the UK, and not all are a cause for concern.
Red wasps, which have a red abdomen as well as the typical yellow stripes, are not a pest. Nor are Tree wasps, a medium-sized species with conspicuous long hairs on the face and head, and a distinctive solid black mid-section.
The Saxon wasp, with a single yellow line running from behind the head to each wing, will also give you a wide berth unless you stumble onto their nest… literally.
Horntails look like large wasps but this species too is harmless. With yellow-and-black bands and a noticeably long stinger, the females lay eggs in pine trees where the larvae develop for up to five years. That means it isn’t unknown for them to suddenly emerge from timbers used for building. Disconcerting, but no reason to panic.
Bees are different
Smaller than wasps and varying in colour from golden brown to almost black, with a yellow stripe, Honey bees help pollinate about a third of everything we eat.
We all need to like the Honey bee and these should be left buzzing in the garden
But if they set up home in an undesirable location, like your wall cavity or chimney, call us. They will need to be moved… but with care.
Did you know, there are 25 types of Bumblebee here in the UK? But if you see one that looks like a cross with a wasp, especially if it is on an Ivy plant, then that’s an Ivy bee. That’s another non-native species, like the Asian Hornet, so use that same email address to report it.
Finally, it is easy to confuse a hoverfly with a bee or wasp. They are very common, and there are more than 270 varieties here in the UK. But as they cannot sting, and are therefore harmless to humans, it is worth being able to recognize their ornate black and yellow body patterns and know how it differs from the stripes on a wasp or bee.
That seems a good buzzing note to end on and now you should be able to recognise more of what is buzzing in the garden