Aggressive, bored and 'drunk' German wasps (Vespula germanica) are terrorising the UK as a result of a mild winter and dry spring, pest controllers have warned. The worker wasps have finished their chores, and as a result, are free to go out and occupy themselves with the hunt for food and drink – leading to an invasion in German wasps that have a particularly painful sting.
Paul Bates, managing director of Cleankill Environmental Services, said: "Worker wasps have finished their life's work as queen wasps have stopped laying and don't need food bringing to them. This means that the workers are free to go out and enjoy themselves which includes stealing meat from the barbecue. There will also be drunk wasps around who have been feasting on fermented fruit and will be extra bold. All this means that the wasps are likely to sting for no reason and they are now at their most dangerous."
Nests normally contain around 10,000 wasps and Bates advised people to avoid them, especially when wearing clothing that exposes skin like shorts and t-shirts. They are normally found in attic spaces and he urged people not to try to deal with the problem themselves.
The company also asked people to share their wasp sting stories on its Facebook page. One man got in touch to say he swallowed one that had got into his sandwich and it stung him inside his chest: "I didn't know I'd been stung, I thought I was having a heart attack. My pal carried all 17st of me about half a mile to the medic where I spent all day on oxygen getting jabbed in my heart and generally not having a good festival experience."
Their stings are more painful than other wasp species and can be fatal to those allergic to them. "If you are having late summer barbecues be aware that you may attract uninvited guests to the table. Be particularly careful if you have small children as we've heard some horrific stories involving children being stung. It's bad enough if you are stung as an adult, but wasp stings are even more excruciating for children."
Bates added that people do not build up resistance: "It's just the opposite in most cases. Each time you get stung there's a chance that you will have a worse reaction to the wasp venom."