Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

Beware of these flying insects when trail riding with your horse.
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Photo courtesy: Washington State Department of Agriculture

If you think you’re seeing more wasps than usual this year, you’re probably seeing a critter we inherited recently from Europe, the European paperwasp.

The European paperwasp Polistes dominulus was first recorded in the U.S. in Massachusetts in 1981 and has moved its way West since then, reaching Washington State in 1998. As Keith Seinfeld, KPLU News Seattle, reported in 2006, “So far there’s no sign of environmental damage done by the European wasps and it’s not particularly aggressive, in fact it may do a little good in the garden by eating other pests.”

These paperwasps are often confused with yellowjackets, another kind of wasp, because they have similar markings. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is their nesting habits. European Paperwasps create nests that are only one cell deep forming a single comb and resembling a Dixie cup-sized upside down umbrella. Yellowjackets create large aerial nests that are entirely enclosed in paper. Yellowjackets will also construct nests below the soil surface.

Fortunately, there are some good things about both the European paperwasp and yellowjackets: wasps eat flies, aphids, caterpillars and other invertebrates making them an important insect-controlling predator. “We would have serious pest problems if it weren’t for yellowjackets,” says Todd Murray, an entomologist from Washington State University’s Extension program. In fact, yellowjackets are used as biological control agents in corn, cotton and tobacco crops. A few well-placed nests can clean acres of crops of any pests. It’s the wasp larvae that feed on other insects, supplied to them by adults. Adults feed on nectar, pollen, fallen fruit and other dead insects

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

6 Responses

  1. re: Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

    We were invaded by European paper wasps some ten years ago and they are extremely aggressive. They nest everywhere, in wind chimes, under eaves in stalls, on horse blankets hanging up to dry in the tubes of gates, feed buckets lawn mower, in car doors,

  2. re: Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

    I was at a local state park this past Sunday, and was talking to the park ranger about wasps building around the house. I am allergic to their sting, so this is a major concern for me.  He said that they use the original Irish Spring soap to rub w

  3. re: Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

    Be careful of open channel gates too. We have had wasps attempting to make nests in our main gate to our thoroughbred farm as well as our farm mailbox. Also according to our local bee keepers, wasps are mortal enemies to honeybees. If you keep the wasp

  4. re: Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

    Wow Mary that IS crazy, like being stalked by wasps! I think you’ve done about everything there is. My only suggestion would be to contact your extension office to see if an entomologist there has any further advice. Otherwise you may just have to wait

  5. re: Wasp Control for You and Your Horse

    I have had the worse time with wasps in the mail box this summer. I have lived there 50 years and this is horrible.I removed the comb and destroyed it 2 cans of wasp spray in the box a box of mothballs a glue trap placed inside, cut away the bushes nea

  6. re: Wasp Control, for You and Your Horse

    Excellent article…we had a work party at a practice arena, and when one of the workers pulled up a bush, it stirred up…several of the work party got stung more than 30 times each…fortunately they were not allergic.  What a rodeo it would hav

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