As the summer starts to wind down, wasps start to become a common nuisance. The yellow and black insects start in the late summer and early autumn to track down food they can bring back to the nests to help raise the young.  

Wasps tend to look for sugary foods, as well as high in protein. It isn’t uncommon to see wasps hovering around the front of a car that has just finished a drive on the highway. The insects are picking off parts of things like grasshoppers and butterflies that have been hit by the vehicle to take back to the colony.  

“They’re going to get other insects,” explained Cory Sheffield. He is a curator of invertebrate zoology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. This includes the study of insects like wasps. “If they find dead fish or dead animals they’ll often chew meat off of that and use it to feed their young.” 

The queens of the colonies are also preparing for the rebirth of the colonies in the spring. This means they will start laying eggs that are going to be the queens of colonies next year, as well as males. 

When it comes to wasps, they can oftentimes provide a rather unpleasant experience if they sting a person. However, they aren’t out there trying to sting people. 

“They’re not out to get you, but they are out to get food,” Sheffield added. “If they perceive you as being something trying to prevent them from doing that... I don’t think they’re really going to sting you unless you actually hit them, or inadvertently get them in your mouth.” 

How do wasps end up in someone’s mouth?  

Well, they are also attracted to sugary drinks, such as pop. They have been known to fly into an opened pop can, and when an unaware person takes a sip, they get the insect in their mouth.  

“If you use a straw you sort of can prevent that. Even if you pour it into a glass where you can see if there’s anything in there, you sort of reduce that risk.” 

To help keep wasps from ruining a late summer get-together, the experts do have a few tips.  

One option is using some of the various sprays that are available.  

“If you had a nest that you knew was there, you could try to spray them with things,” suggested Sean Prager to Discover Weyburn. He is an assistant professor of plant sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. He suggested the household insecticide sprays and noted there are ones specifically for wasps.  

Traps are another option proposed by Prager.  

“They have different things that smell good to the wasps, and the wasps fly in and get stuck, so that helps, and that’s good if you just have occasional ones that are sort of bothering you, as opposed to many, many that are coming from a particular spot.” 

Sheffield advised that if there is a chance to do so, destroy the nest before it gets too big. As well, use a spray foam to fill in cracks or to block off areas that could be a prime nesting spot for wasps. When they do start flying near you, try not to panic, and don’t swat at them. As well, don’t walk in bare feet on grass.  

-with files from Discover Estevan

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