A perfect storm of climatic conditions, genetic quirks and the wasps' life cycle have resulted in increased numbers of wasps becoming 'intoxicated' and making a nuisance of themselves with heightened numbers of stinging attacks.
In some areas, the number of wasp attacks have trebled since this time last year.
Shane Jones, a pest control expert from Basingstoke, said the wasps are “really aggressive at this time of year”.
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“Wasps have built absolutely massive nests and, now that all the larvae have grown up and the queen has stopped laying eggs, the colonies have a workforce with nothing to do – and nothing to eat. So they go down to the pub, obviously.
“Wasps can’t handle their booze, so they get tanked-up and fighty – like lager louts”
A spokesperson from the Sussex Wildlife Trust said the wasps’ normal food sources had been depleted.
The wasps normally eat sugar-rich larvae spittle created by the queen’s larvae. However, the queen wasp stops producing larvae at the end of summer and without this staple, wasps look for other food sources and are drawn to fermented fruit, sugary foods and even cider.
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Genetics and wasp life cycles are producing ‘lager lout’ wasps
Another factor in the increased numbers of wasp attacks is a genetic trait that means that older wasps become unable to eat flies and they seek out sugars. Only a tiny sip or morsel is enough to send the wasps into an ‘intoxicated’ state where the wasps exhibit more aggressive behaviour and are more likely to sting.
The Sussex Wildlife Trust said a wasp colony continues to expand through summer until the queen starts producing more male wasps and queens.
The spokesperson continued: “After these ‘reproductives’ have left the nest, the old queen stops laying and the workers no longer have access to larvae.
“Instead, they live on the sugar produced by rotting fruit, which can be a problem as fermenting fruit contains alcohol, so wasps can become intoxicated and rather irritating.”
“Wasps can't handle their booze, so they get tanked-up and fighty” https://t.co/UcVb3a4InA
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) August 8, 2018
Dee Ward-Thompson of the British Pest Control Association said: “Heat and humidity can impact upon wasp numbers, but so can a number of other factors.”
The Association advised people to ensure they disposed of food, particularly sugary snacks and soft drinks, so as not to attracts wasps.
“We always advise waste to be securely bagged and held within a clean container, away from where young children might play.”
The end is nigh for these “lager louts” however as most of the wasp population dies out during winter with only the new queens surviving the season.