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Invasion! How wasps are threatening to ruin the Norfolk summer

PUBLISHED: 15:52 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 13 August 2018

A wasp landing on a raspberry  

Picture:  Stephen Dalton

A wasp landing on a raspberry Picture: Stephen Dalton

The record-breaking heatwave is today being blamed for ushering in an invasion of wasps.

Norfolk is abuzz with talk of the yellow-and-black insects invading houses, pub gardens, schools and tourist attraction.

Richard Pummell of Norwich and Norfolk Pest Control called the prevalence of wasps “the worst in my 26-year history of doing the job”.

MORE: Warning over potentially deadly bites from ‘vampire horseflies’ as numbers rise in heatwave

Andrew Dellbridge of Ace Pest Control said the amount of wasps this year had been “unseasonal”, adding that the number of nests he had cleared had increased from “four or five every one or two months” to “dozens upon dozens a week”.

He said: “I’ve had to clear them out of pub gardens, from people’s barbecues and even from a local school.”

Visitors to Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade have found themselves stung by more than long queues in the heat.

Rachel Hollman, a season ticket holder at the attraction, said the number of wasps pestering guests was “worse than I’ve ever seen before”.

The park owners attributed the current wasp frenzy to a seasonal insect phenomenon called “hyperphagia” where the queen wasp evicts workers from nests by refusing to feed them.

This leads the desperate and irritable wasps searching for nutrition elsewhere - making them “more prominent in areas where there is water and food”.

A spokesman said: “As with any current insect they are seeking moisture and food as natural resources are not as abundant as they might normally be at this time of year.”

They assured guests that their in-house pest control had been working to remove nests, clean sticky areas and install wasp traps.

Martin Dupee, director of operations at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, said wasps seemed to be prevalent than in recent years. “My understanding is that with the rain a number of days ago followed by the heat, these are perfect conditions for them to vacate their nests in search of food.”

He said the parks have control measures in place to proactively seek out wasps nests and to minimise food sources by emptying and cleaning litter bins more frequently.

While having an outside seating area can be a boon for pubs in the summer months, putting food and drink outside means insects become almost unavoidable.

The Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road, Norwich is one which has seen wasps bothering customers and staff in recent days.

A spokesman for the pub said it had set up unintrusive wasp traps on the premises and was looking into other traps and deterrents including fake wasps nests, which can drive wasps away by giving the impression that there are rival hives nearby.

Mr Dellbridge said the best way to deter wasps was “to wash all surfaces from food after use and keep food bins with lids tightly secured. If you discover a serious infestation it’s best to stay calm around them and call a professional.”

He added: “Many people try to block the holes of nests themselves in the hope it will kill them off, but they’re crafty excavators and this generally leads to them burrowing even deeper into your house!”

He also spoke up for the unpopular insects. He said: “The nest I have near my house I refuse to touch. It sounds silly to say as I work in pest control but I don’t like harming them unnecessarily.

“They have such a vital role in the regulation of the local ecosystem and in pollination. Live and let live, I say.”

Numerous people commented on our Facebook page, including:

■ Hannah Harrison: “We need wasps. People just need to chill out when one comes near them, stop windmilling your arms and legs and it will leave you alone. After watching them in my garden, I’m rather fond of them.”

■ Dee Fisher: “I’m terrified of them, always have been and they bring on my anxiety massively. It annoys me when people say just stand still because when you have anxiety and fear you just want to get out of that situation and feel safe again. There are a lot more this year than the last few years and it’s a struggle for me daily to deal with them and people just think I’m silly for having that fear. I’m a cleaner and one of the houses we clean has a hornet nest in and I’ve got to the point I can no longer clean that house.”

■ Thomas Davies: “I normally freak out when they come close to me, but since learning more about them I just don’t panic and they go away. A good friend of mine told me to just sit still and let the wasp fly away by itself. I had one on the back of my head and I continued drinking my pint instead of jumping around like a madman and it just flew away. If a wasp senses danger it will call more wasps for back up so you are best to just let them be.”

■ Carol Stevenson: “We have a large wasp nest in our roof but can’t do much about it. No local council pest control and the cost of getting someone out is too much, so we just have to put up with them.”

■ Emily Hughes: “I don’t mind them in the day time, but for some reason at night time if we have a door or window open in a lit up room, they all start coming in! Also if we just have a light on, we get at least three to five buzzing on the other side of the window! And these wasps aren’t your normal ones, they’re double the size! Absolutely massive!”

■ Liz Edward: “Driving us mad here on outdoor work site especially in the welfare unit had one sting already it’s a constant daily battle. I was so annoyed I looked on Google - what’s the point of wasps? I learnt a lot so don’t feel so hateful now.”

■ Lynn Bean: “Tried to celebrate my daughter’s and granddaughter’s birthdays on Saturday with a BBQ and I have never seen so many wasps about before. The last couple of years we only had one or two bothering us. I hate them and got a phobia of them sadly.”

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