If it seems like wasps are out earlier than usual this year, that's because they are.
Jason Gibbs, the Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Manitoba, says wasps build their colonies over the course of the summer and adds if they get off to an earlier start, like this year, the colony will simply be bigger. Gibbs says they mostly feed on other insects, carcasses of dead animals, fallen fruit and even pollen so, in drier years when their food sources aren't as plentiful, they tend to be a bit peskier and wander more around humans because they see our food as a good food source. He adds if you're out eating on your deck and a wasp comes around, remain calm and don't swat it.
"Well mostly, they are only aggressive whenever they are near their nest," notes Gibbs,"so if you get to close to a wasp nest, they’ll send out workers to sort of defend the nest because they sort of see us as threats but whenever they’re looking for food, we’re often a very good source of that."
Gibbs answers the age old question of do wasps sting or do they bite? "They can do both but the one that really hurts is the sting." He explains they have mandibles, which are kind of like teeth, to chew their food and they can give you a little pinch with those but he says on their back end, they have a stinger with venom which is what causes the pain.
If you do get stung, Gibbs notes you can wash the area where you were stung or put ice on it but adds usually time will take care of the pain and minor swelling. He says if you get stung in the hand, for example, and your face starts to swell, go to the hospital because you could be having an allergic reaction.
If you find a wasp nest in your yard and you want to get rid of it, Gibbs suggests you either call pest control or if you want to do it yourself, do it at night when the wasps are in their nest and not as active.
Gibbs explains the best way to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp. "Bees are typically pretty fuzzy, they have a lot more hairs on their body. If it’s yellow and black or white and black and very sleek looking, it’s probably a wasp. If it’s yellow and black and pretty hairy, it’s a bumble bee. Honey bees are more of an orange-black colour."