Problem: Social Wasps
Social wasps are so named because they live in colonies. This group includes yellow jackets, hornets, and umbrella or paper wasps. These insects all live in paper nests they build either in abandoned rodent burrows or hanging from eaves or branches. The paper nest material is a combination of plant fibers and wasp saliva. A mature colony contains from 200 to 15,000 individuals, depending on the kind of wasp. In fall, most of the wasps die, and the colony is abandoned. The old nests are rarely used again. Only recently mated females (queens) live until the next year. They establish new colonies in the spring, and by late summer the number of individuals in the colony is at a peak. At this time social wasps become pests around picnic tables, ripe fruit, and garbage cans as they search for sweets and bits of meat. Normally, however, social wasps prey on other insects. They feed partially digested bits of the prey to their young. The adults also feed on sweet substances such as nectar and honeydew. Some social wasps aggressively defend their nests and may attack en masse if disturbed. Unlike the honeybee, the social wasp can easily withdraw its stinger and escape or sting again.
Keep food and garbage covered to discourage wasps from becoming pests. Social wasps can easily withdraw their stingers and sting again. If you are stung, apply a cold compress to the area.