Britain under attack from plague of stinging pests: Killer Asian hornets and angry ‘drunk’ German wasps are invading UK after wet and warm weather created ‘perfect breeding ground’
- Wildlife experts warning picnickers and barbecuers about yellowjacket wasps
- German native has finished providing nectar for the queen and protecting nest
- They are getting drunk on fermented fruit and have become more aggressive
- Britain is also set to be invaded by killer Asian hornets in the coming weeks
- Have you been stung by a wasp recently? Email: [email protected]
The UK is under attack from drunk and jobless German wasps making the most of the good weather and fallen fruits.
And the country could also be set for an invasion by killer Asian hornets after recent wet weather created a ‘perfect breeding ground’ for them.
The warm spring, which saw a record 626 hours of sunshine, combined with a string of blazing summer hot spells has meant an abundance of fermenting fruit for German yellowjacket wasps to feed on.
Windfall from fruit trees – like apple, pear, plum and damson – is now at its peak, especially with Storms Ellen and Francis whipping up gales across the UK.
The UK is under attack from ‘drunk’ and jobless German wasps who are feasting on fermented fruit after finishing collection nectar for the queen
The warm spring also meant that more yellowjacket wasp nests survived this summer, meaning there are even more of the stinging pests around than normal.
Bosses at Cleankill Pest Control said that it has seen a year-on-year rise in callouts for angry wasps of 20 per cent – caused in the main by a warm spring and ‘abundant’ fermenting fruit.
German yellowjackets – whose Latin name is Vespula germanica – are ‘much more bad tempered’ than common wasps, Vespula vulgaris, and can give a much nastier sting.
There are around 200bn German yellowjackets – which are bigger then normal wasps, but smaller than hornets – in the UK and around 250bn common wasps.
The worker yellowjackets have now finished their work supplying the queen wasps with nectar and now have ‘nothing to do’ with their time.
Bosses at Cleankill Pest Control said that it has seen a year-on-year rise in callouts for angry wasps of 20 per cent – caused in the main by a warm spring and ‘abundant’ fermenting fruit. Pictured: The huge wasp nest found in a house in the Norfolk Broads
Most of the queen wasps have finished laying their eggs and have left their nests – meaning worker wasps no longer have to tend to the queen and instead – having nothing better to do – ‘get drunk’ by feasting on on ripe fruit.
Because the wasps are sozzled, they are ‘extra bold’ and more likely to sting for no reason.
Cleankill boss Paul Bates said that Brits should ‘beware’ the wasps while out and about – especially when having barbecues or picnics.
He said the German yellowjackets – which can be distinguished from normal wasps because of their size and three black spots on their face – ’caused the most problems’, adding: ‘The type of wasp causing most problems is the German yellowjacket which gives a particularly painful sting.
‘Warm weather in early parts of the season in March and April this year means that more yellowjacket nests survived.
Reports out this week also warned of swarms of Asian hornets – two-inch long critters whose sting can kill – set to arrive in the UK next month
‘Up until mid-August, workers provided food for the larva in the nest, but once the queen stops laying eggs there is no longer any need for food in the nest so the workers go out to have a good time.
‘They feed off BBQ scraps on plates and on fallen fermenting fruits that are in abundance at this time of year.’
The Asian Hornet invasion
Asian hornets are a foreign invasive specific and are ruthless killers of other flying insects – particularly honey-bees, of which they can consume up to 50 a day.
Lying in wait for the bees as they return to their hives, the hornets first decapitate them and rip off their wings, making it easier to carry the bees back to their own nests as protein-rich morsels for their young.
Should the hornets become established in Britain, they will pose an enormous threat to our honey-bees, already badly affected by habitat loss, parasites and pesticides.
Asian hornets first hitched a ride to the West in flower-pots exported from China to France in 2004.
They have since spread rapidly across Europe, arriving in Jersey in 2016 when winds carried fertilised queens over from France. Since then there have also been 17 sightings on the British mainland.
Asian hornets have a dark brown or black velvety body, have a yellow or orange band on the fourth segment of the abdomen and have yellow-tipped legs.
Last year alone saw seven nests destroyed, but the problem is getting bigger.
Windfall fruit can ferment on its own, when the high sugar content turns into alcohol – especially if the fruit is damaged and left lying around for several days.
Mr Bates added: ‘The best thing to teach anybody is not to frantically wave arms around at wasps as this suggests that they are under attack…and they will emit a pheromone to attract their mates, who are also likely to have been feasting on fermented fruit.’
Reports out this week also warned of swarms of Asian hornets – two-inch long critters whose sting can kill – set to arrive in the UK next month.
Recent wet weather has created a ‘perfect breeding ground’ and raised fears the deadly insects will arrive in record numbers on British shores.
The species began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship.
They were then spotted on the Channel Island of Jersey in late 2016, and are feared to have now made it to southern England.
A beekeepers association has pleaded for the public’s help to destroy nests before they are able to multiply and killed off Britain’s bee population.
Lynne Ingram, a beekeeper with 30 honeybee colonies near Bridgwater, Somerset, said: ‘Now is the time to spot the hornets so that their nests can be destroyed before they multiply.’
Hornets can kill a person who is allergic to their sting, and can also eat 50 bees in a day.
Yellowjacket wasp sting victim Alison Worth, of St Albans, Herts, said she was stung in the mouth after taking a swig from a can of fizzy pop – where the wasp was lurking.
She said: ‘I was in the garden and had a sip of my Coke and immediately got stung on my lip.
‘From now on I’m buying bottles, so I can screw down the cap – I’m not risking that again.’
Bosses at the The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) also warned of ‘drunken wasps’ at the end of August, saying they ‘quickly get inebriated’ after dining on ‘fermented fruits’
A spokesman said: ‘In the UK you’re most likely to come across Vespula vulgaris and German Wasps (Vespula germanica). Both species are yellow and black striped, and have painful stings that can cause allergic reactions.
‘In reality, wasps will usually only attack a person if they feel threatened. The problem is a social wasp in distress emits a pheromone that sends nearby colony members into a defensive, stinging frenzy.
‘That’s right – scare a wasp and it might call for backup.’
The species began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship
Wildlife expert Lynne Allbutt, writing in the Western Mail newspaper this week said: ‘At the end of the summer, all the wasps, apart from the ‘new queens’, are jobless, homeless and face certain death. Now if that’s not a good enough reason to go out and get drunk on windfall fruit I don’t know what is.
‘And not surprisingly, some want to fight. They’re angry. Wouldn’t you be? So the best thing to do, is not wave your arms around and look as though you are accepting the invitation to fight.’
A spokesman for Buglife, a nature-conservation charity, said: ‘Towards the end of the summer, wasps are seen more frequently as they hunt for sweet food.
‘They are sometimes considered a nuisance to humans, as they try to feed on sugary drinks and jam sandwiches…the wasps are looking for a sugar fix!’