Never poke a wasps' nest as it could cause them to swarm

East Devon's Environmental Health team has been run off its feet this year responding to wasp related call outs

It’s been a bumper year for wasps in East Devon, reveals the council’s Environmental Health service. According to their records, in July 2017 there were 57 wasp related incidents, while this year, in July alone, they’ve responded to 168 requests to deal with Vespula vulgaris, otherwise known as the common wasp.

The council charges £40 to treat a wasps’ nest – usually in a single visit – but if a second visit is required, it is free.

Janet Wallace, East Devon’s principal environmental health officer, says that despite the snow in March, the queen wasps seem to have bred with a vengeance, which may be related to the hot dry weather this country has experienced over the summer.

To keep up with the unprecedented number of wasp nest callouts, Ian Simpson, the council’s pest control technician, has had to add Saturdays to his schedule: “I have never known a year like it for wasps’ nests. They are turning up in all sorts of place and every one I treat is different.”

He came across one recently in the sleeve of a riding jacket and the biggest one he encountered was last year in an outside lavatory. “Nests are usually about the size of a football, but this one was a metre across,” he recalls. Ian also deals with nests in public places, such as footpaths and schools, but these visits are done free of charge.

“An unusual level of wasp activity can be a sign of a nest being nearby,” says Janet Wallace, who recommends purchasing wasp killer spray, which is normally available in garden centres, if a nest is small.

However, she does not recommend trying to smoke wasps out, due to fire risk and says you should never poke a nest as it could aggravate the wasps and cause to swarm.