Armed with some quality pyrethroid aerosols, a pest manager can carve out an occasional but lucrative sideline in managing paper wasp problems.
Paper wasps aren’t necessarily the number one pest, but they are an opportunity for pest managers to differentiate their services, provide some extra value to their customers and hopefully make a little more profit.
To determine the best control options, it’s always important to understand the key behavioural elements that will influence treatment choice. The common paper wasp (Polistes humilis) can start a new colony in three different ways: they can continue to use their existing nest (as queens overwinter); over-wintering queens can find and take over an old nest; or they build a new nest. Interestingly, paper wasp nests often have more than one queen (average of two per nest).
The nests are built in sheltered areas on buildings (such as under eaves) or under branches or large leaves. As such, a by-product of a ‘general pest spray’, where eaves and external walls of the home are coated with insecticide, prevents paper wasps building their nests. With a residual treatment in such sheltered areas lasting several months and wasps looking to build their nests in spring, even if the treatment has worn off by summer, by that time the wasps will have built their nests elsewhere. The net result is that a spring pest treatment can keep the building wasp-free all year! It makes sense to add this claim to your service to differentiate yourself from your competition. And maybe charge a little more?
In terms of the best products for preventing nest building, typically products containing pyrethroids are a good choice as they tend to be ‘repellent’ to wasps and indeed Hymenoptera spp. in general. It probably isn’t repellence from a distance, but they get irritated shortly after landing (picking up a sub-lethal dose) and fly off to find a more suitable site. With its broad label, Sumiguard from Sumitomo Chemical, containing the synthetic pyrethroid esfenvalerate, would be an ideal option.
Of course, in situations where nests have been allowed to develop through spring and into summer, the nests will mature and may start to pose a threat to homeowners and their families and pets. Although paper wasp nests tend not to be large (typically 20-50 individuals), they can deliver a painful sting and to the sensitive, there is always the risk of a serious anaphylactic reaction.
Although some customers may simply knock down the nest (and make a run for it!), this can have varied success, as the wasps will often re-build the nest nearby. When dealing with wasp nests, safe application of products and avoiding being stung are the key priorities. Long-range aerosols, such as WaspJet from Sumitomo Chemical, provide a quick, safe and convenient tool to deal with paper wasp nests.
Spraying at dusk is generally the best option as all the wasps are back in the nest and generally more subdued. With a spray range of up to six metres, there’s no need to climb a ladder and you can keep a safe distance. The combination of high active concentration and powerful solvent immobilises the wasps within seconds, preventing any escapees. The use of carbon dioxide as the propellant and low conductivity formulation minimises issues around electrical areas.
The high output of WaspJet delivers around ten grams of products per second, so each nest only needs a 1-2 second spray, meaning each aerosol can eliminate around 20 nests. Having a can of WaspJet in the ute allows you do deal with paper wasps nest quickly and with a modest charge per nest, it provides for a profitable small add-on to any pest treatment.