First it was the hornets, now wasps are a menace
AS if dealing with the invasion of Asian hornets wasn’t bad enough, the Island is now seemingly buzzing more than ever with the most annoying of insects – the common wasp.
In recent weeks Islanders have reported seeing huge numbers of the winged pests as they dive-bomb picnics, hover over beer gardens and invade homes.
Some experts have suggested that the wasp population has soared this year as they emerged later than usual thanks to the Beast from the East cold spell and made the most of the very warm end to spring.
But others have suggested that we are simply seeing more of them as we are on the lookout for Asian hornets.
Regardless, wasps are always more bothersome in August as they are making the most of their short lives – by getting drunk.
JEP nature columnist and beekeeper Bob Tompkins said: ‘People think wasps are a pain in the backside but they do a very important job by eating flies, midges and aphids which they take as food for their young.
‘However, at this time of the year the grubs have grown so the worker wasps have plenty of spare time when fruit is ripening, and when apples, pears and other fruits fall to the ground they ferment and produce alcohol – and there is nothing that wasps like better.
‘They are still continuing to kill flies but their workload has been decreased because the majority of the young have been raised.
‘Come late August and early September, they can best be likened to an out-of-control hen party.’
Mr Tompkins says Islanders are noticing more wasps this year as so many people are looking out for hornets.
On Thursday he was called out by a householder who feared they had an Asian hornet nest in a roof space only to discover it was a colony of common wasps.
Wasps had a good start to this year as their lifestyle started later than usual due to the cold winter and early spring. They emerged to a short, but abundant, late spring. However, Environment’s principal ecologists John Pinel says this has not necessarily led to greater numbers, as the size of the population depends on the number of queen wasps that survive the winter.
‘August is the time when we get the most wasp activity and it is also when people are outside having picnics, rather than sitting inside and eating so it is when they are likely to notice insects more,’ Mr Pinel said.
Mr Tompkins concurred but added that the good spring weather had given wasps and other insects a good start to their annual lifestyle, which has been boosted further by the prolonged hot and dry spell that began in June and ended this week.
And that, he continued, is good news for members of the swallow family who are currently feasting on insects across the countryside as they prepare to fly south for the winter.