It’s the middle of December and you are cuddled up with your favorite book and a warm blanket. Unfortunately, this peaceful moment is interrupted by a buzzing sound followed by the sighting of a wasp! And while you might be thinking “This is odd! It’s winter!”, this occurrence is quite common.
As fall starts, paper wasps will start to die off. However, there are select females who will search for a safe place to overwinter. These safe places can be inside chimneys, behind the siding of your home, and around windows and door frames.
Since winter weather in the south is very unpredictable, bouncing from 20 degrees one week to 72 the next, that random warm weather can trigger the wasps to become active and search for exits to begin making nests; thus the cause of wasp sightings in the month of December. How can you prevent these wasps from overwintering?
Steps to Prevent Wasps Overwintering:
- Look to fill cracks and holes found around the foundation of your home.
- Invest in updating weather-stripping around windows and door frames.
- Inspect around the outside of your home: roof eaves, porch ceilings, and attic rafters
If you spot a wasp in your home, don’t hit the panic button. In the winter months, wasps tend to move slower than normal and your licensed pest control professional can remove the nests with ease.
Hornets are wasps that are closely related to, but not to be confused with yellow jackets. In all, there are about 20 hornet species worldwide, but the primary hornet in North America is the European hornet. Just like other social wasps, hornets create their nests from chewing wood into a papery pulp to raise their eggs to adults.
You’ll tend to see hornet activity during warmer weather because hornet nests get abandoned in the winter. During this time, they’ll hide under tree bark or even inside human dwellings in order to protect themselves and their eggs. When spring hits, the surviving queens crate a new nest and this is when they become quite an issue for homeowners.
Their threat to homeowners is in their sting, as they use it to kill prey and defend their hives. Unlike bees, hornets can sting multiple times as they do not die after stinging. The toxicity of their sting depends on their species, but the Asian giant hornet is the most venomous. People must be very careful because as social wasps, hornets can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense, creating a highly dangerous situation. Furthermore, it’s better to call an exterminating company to eliminate the entire hive. This is because if hornets are killed near their hive, their bodies may release a pheromone which can cause other hornets to attack.
Asian giant hornet
We know that bugs are gross and unsanitary but did you also know that they can be bad for our health. WebMD discusses some of the worst bugs and the potential harm they can do to our health:
- Ticks –Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and allergic reactions.
- Black Widow Spiders – Poisonous.
- Brown Recluse Spiders – Poisonous, can cause serious wounds, infection, and in some cases can be deadly.
- Head Lice – Itchiness can lead to infection, loss of hair.
- Fleas – Itchiness can lead to infection.
- Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket – Painful sting, and can cause allergic reaction.
- Fire Ants – Painful sting, venomous, red bumps that burn and itch, and can cause allergic reaction.
- Chiggers – Itchy red welts.
- Scabies – Itchiness, sores.
- Bedbugs – Itchy, red bumps, can develop infection from scratching, and can cause allergic reaction.
- Puss Caterpillar – Poisonous, painful sting, rash, fever, vomiting, and muscle cramps.
- Scorpions – Poisonous, painful, and can be deadly.
- Deerflies – Infection, and Tularemia.
- Mosquitoes – West Nile virus, dengue fever, other diseases, and scratching can cause skin infection.
- Houseflies – Carries more than 1 million bacteria, intestinal infections by contaminating food.
- Cockroaches – Salmonella and other diseases, dead carcasses can trigger allergic reactions and asthma.
Tips to prevent feeling the sting of these health issues:
- Make sure your home is treated by a professional exterminator. A professional can diagnose current problems, and prevent new issues from coming into your home efficiently and effectively.
- Wear long clothing when outdoors.
- Wear DEET repellant when outdoors.
- Keep a clean, sanitary home and yard. This will prevent insects from seeing your home as a place for them to call home.
For more information on these insects and their health hazards, visit WebMD: Bad Bugs Slideshow: Identifying Bugs and Their Bites.
If you think you may have been bitten or stung by any of the insects above, please take note of your body’s reaction and seek medical assistance immediately.
A wasp sting can potentially be very dangerous to those in your home, including yourself, your children, and even your pets. If allergic, a sting can cause severe complications, and even death. Even for those that aren’t allergic, a wasp sting is painful and can cause itchiness and infection at the site of the sting.
Needless to say, if there is a wasp nest around your home it is very important that you get rid of it. Since nests are usually home to a colony of wasps they can be dangerous to try to remove by yourself. We suggest calling a professional exterminating company, like Northwest Exterminating, to remove the wasp for you, especially if you have an allergy to stings.
You can purchase a can of wasp remover at your local hardware store. For best results and safety, read and follow all directions on the label. Most labels will tell you that nighttime is the best time to treat because the wasps will either be inside the nest or on the nest. Make sure that you have an “exit” plan for when the wasps come out of their nest. You don’t want to have to run through their swarm to get back inside your home. Wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and pants, gloves, hat, safety goggles, and mask) spray directly into the nest. Once you have sprayed for the amount of time suggested on the can, leave the area immediately. Most products will advise you to wait a specified amount of time before visiting the area of the nest. Once activity around the nest has seized, knock down the nest and dispose of the nest in a covered trash can outside of the home.
We strongly recommend that you contact Northwest Exterminating, or your professional exterminating company, to remove a wasp nest if you:
- Feel uncomfortable to do it yourself
- If the nest is large or there is a large amount of wasps around the nest
- If you or anyone in your home is allergic to stings
Where is the strangest place you’ve seen a wasp nest around your home?
Q:Why am I seeing pests like ants in my home in the middle of winter?
A: It has been a strange year. From a personal perspective, no snow and warmer than usual temperatures, have been very nice. From a pest perspective, I fear we will be seeing some unusual pest movements this year. Recently we have had several wasp and bee complaints, ants are running wild and termite swarms have occurred. Setting us up for a very unusual spring and summer. Ants have been especially problematic because they usually are not around for awhile, but they’re back.
What do you do? First, keep areas clean, spills and dropped food can attract the ants from a distance. Pick up pet food and water, this can also act as an attractant. Watch for leaking hoses and garden or yard tools that are left wet after work, this attracts pests to the structure and could lead them inside. The best way to protect yourself is to have a professional exterminator your structure for entrances and give recommendations to reduce the potential hiding areas around your place.
BCE CEHT CP-FS
LEED Green Associate
If you have a question about your pest control, ASK THE MOUSE!