Everyone loves to hate wasps. They seem to be just about everywhere during the summer, ruining your barbeque or reading time on the back porch. Here are 10 common myths about wasps that simply aren’t true.
- Wasps are more dangerous than bees
- Wasps don’t make honey
- You can remove a wasp nest at night
- Wasps build their nests near flowers
- Wasps will chase you from far away
- People allergic to bee stings are also allergic to wasp stings
- Baking soda will soothe a wasp sting
- A copper penny reduces redness on a wasp sting
- Artificial nests will ward off wasps
- Wasps only eat sweet things
The truth behind these ten myths is astounding, and a better understanding of wasps is essential to keeping them off your property and away from you and your family. The rest of this article will discuss the hidden secrets of wasps and why these 10 myths still persist to this day.
Wasps Are More Dangerous than Bees
People often perceive wasps as being more aggressive and dangerous than bees, but the truth is that wasps generally tend to exhibit similar behavior to bees in that they are very protective of their nest.
They can exhibit different levels of aggression that tend to be higher in the fall in an effort to protect the queen, just like bees.
Some species of wasps are more aggressive than bees, but bees can be just as dangerous, if not more so simply because of the sheer number of bees that will swarm to defend their nest.
A myriad of bee stings can necessitate a trip to the ER just the same as being stung repeatedly by a wasp.
Wasps Don’t Make Honey
Believe it or not, there are a few species of wasps that do produce honey. About 5% of wasp species produce honey, and the Mexican honey wasp is among them.
Found in North and South America, the Mexican honey wasp colony can have over 18,000 members, all of which work towards the greater good of the colony.
The honey produced by this wasp species is much like honeybee mesquite honey, with similar glucose and fructose content, sourced from several floral sources like mesquite and sunflower.
As such, some wasp species do actually contribute to the long-term health of the planet by serving as pollinators.
You Can Remove a Wasp Nest at Night
This longstanding rumor has led to many unneeded stinging over the years. While it is true that wasps are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day and inactive at night, they are still ready and willing to defend their nests at any cost.
Wasps tend to be more lethargic at night, which certainly does give you better odds, but it is by no means safe to remove a wasp nest at night.
Wasps do not sleep; they are merely dormant and utilize less energy as they watch the nest and defend their young.
If you go and take a baseball bat to a wasp nest at night, you’re effectively going to wake up all of those wasps at once with a vengeance.
Stay safe on this one; call the pros to get a wasp nest taken care of safely and professionally. If you’re going to do it yourself, use a method that allows you to stay 6 feet away. That way, you’ll be out of their 6-foot sight range.
Wasps Build Their Nests Near Flowers
While flowers are important for pollinators, getting rid of flowers in your garden isn’t going to solve a wasp problem.
An abundance of flowers certainly will attract wasps, but research suggests that wasps prefer to set up their nest in a safe environment rather than determining its location in proximity to a pollination area. Safety is paramount, so areas that are likely to remain undisturbed are attractive to a wasp.
It is certainly true that wasps are more likely to build their nests in proximity to food sources, however. To avoid this risk, make sure you have no leaky pipes providing water for them, ripe fruit for them to eat, or open garbage bins.
This signals to the wasps that your home is an ideal place to set up camp and greatly increases your risk of having to deal with a wasp nest.
Wasps Will Chase You from Far Away
Wasps have a pretty hard-set reputation for being aggressive, and in some species, that stigma is certainly deserved.
In general, wasps are quite protective of their nests and will only give chase if they feel you are threatening the safety of the nest.
They will not give chase, however, on targets that are more than six feet away. Wasps can’t see farther than that, so you can safely assume that if you’re a good distance away, you have nothing to worry about.
In addition, the eye of a wasp is designed to pinpoint movement (they are hunters, after all), which suggests that as long as you are far away from the nest and not moving much, a wasp won’t chase you. Perhaps it’s the wasp’s powerful toolkit that gives them such a nasty reputation.
Wasps can accelerate a lot faster than humans and can sting multiple times. When they do, it releases a chemical signal that prompts other wasps to attack as well.
Yellow jackets, hornets, and paper wasps are generally considered to be the most aggressive species of wasp and don’t need much of an excuse to chase you if you’re near their nest.
People Allergic to Bee Stings Are Also Allergic to Wasp Stings
Bee stings and wasp stings have very different properties. A bee sting is slightly acidic, while most wasp stings are slightly alkaline.
As a result, the allergenic substances that trigger anaphylaxis in a person allergic to bee stings don’t apply to wasp stings.
The major allergenic protein in a wasp sting is an enzyme called Phospholipase A1, which in a bee sting, Hyaluronidase and Acid Phosphatase cause allergic reactions from bee stings.
If you’re concerned about a potential risk of allergic reactions to wasp or bee stings, you can have blood tests done that can determine whether you may react severely to a wasp or bee sting.
In some people, venom allergic people can benefit from sting desensitization through injection immunotherapy.
Baking Soda Will Sooth a Wasp Sting
Baking soda is an alkaline, which means that it can sooth the effects of acidic substances. Recall that wasp stings are not acidic; rather, they contain alkaline compounds as well.
So there’s really nothing to sooth by using baking soda on a wasp sting. In addition, baking soda is a topical remedy, while a bee or wasp sting quickly affects the tissue where you’ve been stung, rending the treatment virtually useless.
Wasp venom is quite complex as well, so even if the baking soda did have a marginal effect on neutralizing some of the components, it’s not likely that the result would be noticeable by someone who has been stung.
A Copper Penny Reduces Redness on a Wasp Sting
Another silly rumor spread about treating wasp stings is that a penny will help reduce the redness of the sting.
This probably stems from the fact that the copper is cool and provides a brief sensation of relief on the inflamed skin. In effect, this treatment does nothing and can actually be to your detriment.
Coins are dirty money (pun completely intended), and putting them on your skin near an open wound increases your risk of infection.
Wasp stings aren’t serious, and all you need to do is wash with soap and water and apply ice to reduce the swelling. Seek medical help if your reaction is severe.
Artificial Nests Will Ward Off Wasps
Artificial nests are, at best, a minor deterrent for other wasps. Research suggests that wasps will build their nests quite close to each other, so adding an artificial nest probably isn’t going to do much.
The best time to use an artificial nest is before the wasps in your neighborhood have set up shop.
Putting one up after a nest is already established will contribute nothing. In addition, wasps may still choose to nest near an artificial one anyway if there is ample food and water in the area.
Wasps Only Eat Sweet Things
Wasps do tend to favor sweet things, and this rumor probably stems from the fact that wasps are an absolute nuisance around barbeques and wine parties.
Late in the season, they do prefer these foods, but in the earlier months of the year, they are hunters at heart, preying on small insects. They will attack and eat the following creatures:
- Cabbage worms
Wasps are fascinating and often misunderstood insects, but no one can deny that they command respect wherever they go.
Wasps are extremely protective of their home, and if you’re being menaced by wasps every time you step out on the back patio, it’s definitely time to call in the experts to have it removed safely and completely.
Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:10 Myths about Flies
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