This summer is said to be the worst in recent years for wasps and it could be set to get worse still with a warm autumn expected and wasps reaching their peak activity over the August bank holiday weekend.
Pest control companies are saying it is the busiest wasp period in seven years.
The problem is expected to heighten as summer goes into autumn. The male worker wasps have no purpose after the Queen goes into hibernation in September and October and it is then they become bold in a desperate search for food.
But while picnics and beer gardens are plagued by the stripy yellow and black menaces, wildlife experts are urging people to keep calm and show some love and tolerance for the insects and appreciate the vital role they play in the environment.
Biologist Professor Adam Hart said: “Wasps are important to us as pest controllers. They take huge amounts of caterpillars and other insects we think of as pests from our crops and gardens.”
Wasps are increasingly recognised as valuable pollinators, transferring pollen as they visit flowers to drink nectar. It is actually their thirst for sweet liquids that explains why they become so bothersome at this time of year.
By late August, wasp nests have very large numbers of workers but they have stopped raising any larvae. All the time nests have larvae, the workers must collect protein, which accounts for all those invertebrates they hunt in our gardens. The larvae are able to convert their protein-rich diet into carbohydrates that they secrete as a sugary droplet to feed the adults.
With no larvae adult wasps must find other sources of sugar. When you combine that hunger for sugar with good weather and people eating and drinking outdoors, the result is inevitable.
The Big Wasp Survey, led by scientists, is trying to gather more information about wasps and their activities, To find out more visit www.bigwaspsurvey.org.
Picture by Brett Maclean taken on Hastings Pier this week.