Monthly Archives: April 2012

Who should remove a hibernating queen Wasp?

Warm weather in early spring will rouse hibernating queen wasps from their winter sleep. If you see a wasp at this time of year, it will almost definitely be a queen wasp emerging from its hibernation. These wasps are larger and brighter than other wasps and are the only wasps which survive the winter cold.

While you might consider wasps to be a pest during the summer months, the best time to prevent a wasp problem is when you find a hibernating or newly woken queen wasp. By destroying it now, you are preventing it from building the much bigger pest problem of an entire wasp nest.

How to spot a hibernating queen wasp

A hibernating queen wasp will protect her wings and antennae by tucking them under its body. It uses the middle legs to cover and protect its wings and the hind legs to anchor itself in place for the winter.

The wasp may construct a small hibernation cell, about the size of a golf ball, which may be grey, silver or straw in colour and will often be hidden from human eyes in an undisturbed spot in a loft space or shed.

As with all wasps, a queen wasp carries a sting which injects poison into its victim. This can be painful to a human and in rare cases can cause a dangerous allergic reaction.

If you discover what you think is a hibernating queen wasp and are unsure of how to deal with it, you may want to call in a pest control expert. They have the experience to identify and destroy it.

Prevent queen wasps building a new nest near your home

The queen wasps usually wake up from hibernation at the beginning of April. They immediately begin searching for somewhere to build a nest. Popular locations are roof voids, wall cavities and sheds, but wasp nests can also be found underground and in more unusual places, such as holes in trees or bird boxes.

Once a queen wasp has chosen a location, it begins building the nest. The nest is made from chewed wood and wasp saliva, creating a grey, papery material. Once a few cells have been built, the queen wasp will begin to lay eggs. These hatch into workers who then feed the queen. As the queen wasp is fed, she makes more cells and lays more eggs and so the colony grows, by up to 100 eggs a day.

By mid-summer, the nest could be home to hundreds or even thousands of wasps. If it’s near your home or workplace, it can become a significant pest control problem, as their search for food will keep bringing the wasps to you. They could be a continual nuisance, and you risk being stung, particularly in the autumn, when they become more aggressive.

You may be able to avoid all this by destroying a hibernating queen wasp when you find it, perhaps as it emerges from winter sleep.

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Tips for avoiding clothes Moths

As winter blossoms into spring, you’ll begin to reacquaint yourself with lighter clothes you put away months ago. However, opening the wardrobe doors may reveal more than just the garments you put away last year. It’s possible that your hangers supplied ready meals to a host of hungry clothes moths.

The Victorians knew all about avoiding clothes moths but the rise of man-made fibres saw their numbers steadily decline in the last century. That trend is reversing and moths are again becoming a common pest.

The damage is done by the moth larvae, which feed on clothes and carpets. By the time you spot the golden flutter of the adult moth, it’s too late; they’ve feasted on your fabrics.

Here are our tips for avoiding clothes moths.

1. Know the signs. Small moths are found in every home but not all are clothes moths. If you’re on the lookout for the pests, keep your eyes open for tiny larvae, the moth caterpillars which look like small maggots. Also watch for small silken tubes or cases and the silk cocoons where they turn into moths.

2. Regularly freshen up areas where clothes are stored. Clothes moths prefer dark, undisturbed places. Infrequently opened wardrobes, suitcases of old clothes in the loft and rarely cleaned fabric on furniture are their favourite haunts. Store fabrics in plastic bags and give the darkest corners an occasional clean to reduce the risk of Moth Infestation.

3. Keep fabrics clean, especially if they are to be stored. Moths prefer to feed on dirty textiles, so washing clothing and other fabrics before putting them into store will help keep the pests away.

4. Vacuum regularly. Carpets are particular favourites for clothes moths, especially handmade rugs. The caterpillars live underneath, where it’s dark, and do their damage unseen. They can also live under skirting boards, where household debris gathers and provides plenty to eat.

5. Use repellents. Moth balls, popular with past generations, are reappearing in homes across London and the country. Moth repellent fabric protector sprays are also available, which are applied directly to textiles, rendering them unpleasant to pests.

6. Trap the moths. If you have a clothes moth problem, a trap will help you to collect the adults and reduce the chance of them breeding. These are typically baited with pheromones which attract the moths to sticky surfaces, where they become trapped.

Take care to buy the right type of trap, as not all are designed for indoor, domestic use. Moth enthusiasts and gardeners also trap the insects and the devices they use are different.

7. Call in a pest control professional. If you have a serious problem with clothes moths, or they keep coming back, you may need the assistance of a pest controller. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about – the Westminster headquarters of Defra were closed for a day last year, to deal with an infestation of the common clothes moth.

For reasons no one quite understands, moths are becoming a more common problem in London. By taking simple steps to avoid clothes moths, you can also escape the frustration of damaged clothes and soft furnishings.

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