Wasp invasion! Expert issues stark warning of ‘bumper summer’

Summer with a sting in the tail: Mild winter could lead to an increase in the number of wasps
Summer with a sting in the tail: Mild winter could lead to an increase in the number of wasps
  • Experts say weather conditions have created perfect storm for a wasp invasion
  • Bedford had highest number of treatments from more than 16 councils last year
  • Homeowners warned tackling a wasps nest themselves ‘is not worth the risk’

Pest experts are warning this summer will come with a sting in the tail as it is set to be a bumper year for wasps in Bedford.

Mild spring temperatures after a relatively cold winter have created perfect conditions for the nuisance insects.

And with forecasters predicting warmer than average weather for the rest of May and June, experts are expecting a huge rise in both the number and size of nests.

Figures produced by the British Pest Control Association last week indicate problems with wasps shot up by around 87% in the UK last year compared to an unusually quiet 2013.

Last year Bedford Borough Council reported a 115% rise in its number of wasp treatments with 611 up from 284 the year before.

But the figures also showed the authority had by far the highest number of recorded cases from more than 16 councils across seven counties. It also had 410 cases more than Bedfordshire Central District Council.

Experts say weather conditions have been ideal for wasps to thrive

Experts say weather conditions have been ideal for wasps to thrive

Now Rob Simpson, leader of independent pest controllers register BASIS PROMPT, is warning of another surge in complaints this time around.

He said: “The annual wasp population in the UK is very much dependent on weather conditions.

“The number of nests seemed to be down significantly in 2013, but there was a substantial increase last year when numbers returned to something like normal.

“Colder winters often mean there are more wasps about the following summer as mated queens spend the period deep in hibernation.

Treating a wasps nest can be very dangerous as they feel threatened and are likely to become aggressive if their nest is tampered with. A mature nest can contain thousands of wasps, so it’s really not worth the risk.

Rob Simpson, leader of independent pest controllers register BASIS PROMPT

“If it’s milder in December and January, wasps become restless and use up their food reserves. They then have nothing left to forage on, so they die.

“This year, temperatures were relatively cold during the winter and have so far been warm in spring, so we’re expecting our members to receive a deluge of calls.”

In a typical British summer, wasps will not appear in huge numbers or become an issue until August or September.

But they begin building new nests in spring and Mr Simpson advises it is less dangerous to have them treated as early as possible, when the colony is smaller and the wasps less aggressive.

A heat map showing where wasps have been most prevalent

A heat map showing where wasps have been most prevalent

He added: “With warm weather expected and nests growing in size as the season progresses, we expect the number of wasp-related enquiries to rise substantially.

“So if people do find a nest in their garden or around the house, however small at the moment, it shouldn’t be ignored.”

But the pest expert warned against homeowners tackling any issues themselves saying it is ‘really not worth the risk’.

“Treating a wasps nest can be very dangerous as they feel threatened and are likely to become aggressive if their nest is tampered with,” he said.

“A mature nest can contain thousands of wasps, so it’s really not worth the risk.

“You don’t need to remove a nest, but you do need to have it treated as early as possible and it’s definitely a job that should be left to experts.”

Homeowners seeking professional advice are being urged to find a company registered with BASIS PROMPT – an industry initiative designed to promote standards in pest control.