Don't Panic, But The Heatwave Is Making Wasps Live Longer

Rodent problems have also got worse.
Pierre Aden via Getty Images

While the heatwave has provided perfect conditions for Britons to hit the beach, it has also been a boom time for wasps, with the UK experiencing one of the “worst” surges of the insect in recent years.

The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said pest controllers were destroying up to 12 nests a day and experts believe wasps may live longer this year as the warm weather is expected to last into the autumn.

Next year is also expected to be a “bumper” year for wasps, it said, adding that rats and mice have also thrived this year.

BPCA technical officer, Natalie Bungay, told Sky News that wasp nests could get “pretty big” this year and warned people not go near them.

“They [the wasps] are going to attack you if you do, so you need to have the right protection on you,” she said, adding: “The pest control industry isn’t just about killing things, we try not to do that if possible.

“If you can leave it, leave it alone and it will be fine as long as you don’t disturb them.”

BPCA technical advisor Kevin Higgins said regardless of the weather this year - one of the longest heatwaves on record – the association was already expecting a “bumper year” for wasps as their numbers traditionally rise and fall in a two-year pattern.

BPCA records show the UK was “inundated” with wasps in 2016, followed by a “distinct lull” in numbers in 2017.

Higgins said wasp numbers were now “rising significantly, exceeding initial expectations” which means people have a greater chance of being stung.

“This early abundance of fruit in the fields and gardens gives better feeding conditions in which they can thrive. Wasps get giddy on the fruit, it makes them slightly inebriated, and this is when they are most likely to sting.”

If this weather continues, the wasp season will extend Higgins said, meaning 2019 would see another surge of wasps “as conditions allow for more queens to thrive in the nests”.

The association said while reports of rats and mice tend to drop in the summer months, there had been no “slow-down” in the number of callouts to tackle rodents this year which was “highly unusual”.

Higgins said rodents tended to move away from the “warmth and shelter” of homes and outbuildings during summer, preferring instead to live outside.

“However, this year we are seeing no evidence of that, with our members saying that call-outs to deal with rodents are continuing in the summer months,” he said.

Higgins said one theory was that there is a “good deal of fruit around” due to the warm weather, meaning rodents don’t have to travel as far as usual to feed.

Higgins urged members of the public to be vigilant, as wasps, rats and mice can be a “real nuisance, and a public safety issue too”.


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