Large, conspicuous buzzing insects with yellow and black striped, wasp-waisted bodies, 10-15mm long. They have a sweet tooth at one end and a painful sting at the other.
The queen wasp is larger (20mm) and she hibernates over winter, making a nest in the spring in which to lay her eggs. She feeds the grubs on insects until they develop into worker wasps, three to four weeks later. Workers, all sterile females, forage for over a mile in search of food. One nest may produce 30,000 wasps in a year.
At their peak in August and September with the youngsters reared, the workers turn to the sweet food they prefer and become a nuisance wherever this is available. If annoyed or threatened, wasps will sting and the best remedy – after removing the sting with a clean finger nail – is to apply an anti-histamine. Some people react violently to being stung with several dying each year.
A term frequently misused to describe beetles in general, but actually applicable only to a distinctive group of beetles with long, pointed “snouts” which they use for boring into whole grains, hard processed cereals such as pasta, and timber.
Mainly pests of stored cereals on farms.
A brown beetle, about 1cm long, with pronounced antennae and a tendency to emerge from damp basements and fly about near rivers or estuaries in early summer.
The grubs live in very decayed wet timber such as old jetties or wooden piles. Buildings built over old bombed sites with timbers buried under them are sometimes invaded by these beetles for a few odd days.
Woodlice are one of the few land crustaceans. They have oval, grey, segmented bodies 10-15mm long, with 14 legs and prominent antennae. Common names include ‘slaters’, ‘sow-bugs’ and ‘pill-bugs’.
There are three species that enter houses from the garden – one of which, the pill woodlouse, rolls up into a tight ball when disturbed. Woodlice are harmless feeders upon rotten wood or other vegetable matter in cool damp areas.
They normally live underneath stones, clumps of plants, logs, or doormats, from which they may crawl into dark corners of a house. Rockeries with aubrietia are great favourites with them.
A term used for the destructive larvae of the Common Furniture Beetle.
First sign of woodworm is the appearance of neat round holes, 2mm across, in wooden surfaces, often accompanied by tiny piles of wood dust beneath them. Fresh holes show clean white wood inside. The holes are made by emerging adult beetles, immature grubs may still be tunnelling away inside the wood.
The adult Furniture Beetle is a small brown insect 3mm to 6mm long which flies quite readily. It lays eggs on rough, unpolished wood and the grubs bore straight into the wood – leaving no trace until they emerge as beetles three years or so later, usually between May and September.
Woodworm is frequently introduced into the house in second-hand furniture, tea chests or wicker-work; but the beetles are quite capable of flying in through a window from nearby dead branches of trees. They may then attack floorboards, joinery and, more seriously, structural timbers such as rafters and joists.
Other woodborers include: Death Watch Beetle, which infests only large old hardwood beams; the House Longhorn, confined – at least for the moment – to North West Surrey; Powder Post Beetle which needs a diet of starch in certain hardwoods, and woodboring weevils, which are associated with wet rot and die out when it is treated.