It’s usually around August when wasps start making a nuisance of themselves, however the heatwave gripping the UK has pushed their mass outing forward. Oh joy.
Complaints and call outs regarding wasps have increased, says The British Pest Control Association (BCPA), as the warmer weather has resulted in an early abundance of fruit in fields and gardens, luring wasps out of their nests to feed.
Usually wasps are more prevalent in August and September in the UK. Dr Seirian Sumner, an expert in Behavioural Ecology at University College London, explains: “It’s at the time in the colony cycle when the nest is at its biggest in terms of workers. Also we notice them more at that time because the workers no longer have many larvae to feed and so they are not foraging for insect prey (which is protein for the larvae).”
Larvae release a sugary reward when they are fed which keeps adult wasps partially satisfied, however at the end of the colony cycle the larvae will have “pupated” so the adults are on the hunt for sugar to feed themselves.
“So it’s a double whammy of workers having less ‘work’ to do as the pupae don’t need looking after and that they are not getting the sugary reward from the larvae for feeding them,” adds Dr Sumner.
With more wasps buzzing around in the late summer months, the risk of being stung is heightened. So what should you do if that happens?
Like a peanut allergy, anaphylaxis may be caused by bee or wasp stings on rare occasions, so if you feel suddenly and generally unwell afterwards call 999.
If you feel okay but the area is generally quite sore, Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, recommends buying an over-the-counter, non-sedating antihistamine which should “work within minutes”. You might need to take it for a few days.
Over-the-counter steroid creams might also help relieve the area, says Dr Alexandroff, before recommending 1% hydrocortisone cream for children and Eumovate cream for adults.
Other treatments include calamine lotion, menthol in aqueous cream and Balneum Plus cream all of which will provide immediate but short-lived relief and therefore should be applied frequently.
Avoid scratching the area if possible and in the rare case that the sting becomes infected, book in to see your GP.