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Suffolk sees worst year for wasps in three DECADES – with deluge of rats on way

PUBLISHED: 05:30 02 October 2018

Wasps Picture: SIMON PARKER

Wasps Picture: SIMON PARKER

Pest controllers inundated with callouts for wasps and hornets are now expecting a deluge of rats as the weather turns cold.

Wasps nest in an attic. Picture: Bob Mills pest controlWasps nest in an attic. Picture: Bob Mills pest control

Expert Bob Mills, based in Ipswich, claims the wasp situation this year was the worst he had seen for 30 years.

With a five week waiting list for insecticide, Mr Mills admits he hasn’t seen this many wasps since he was a boy.

“Every pest control company had run out of the stuff you could kill them with,” he said.

“A lot of people had to try to buy it in from abroad.”

Nest eaten out by badgers, covered in insecticide Picture: Bob Mills Pest ControlNest eaten out by badgers, covered in insecticide Picture: Bob Mills Pest Control

Mr Mills recalls going to pubs in Felixstowe where “every drink had 30-40 wasps in” when he was little.

While the weather has turned cooler now, Mr Mills revealed there are still a lot of wasps around.

“I’m still doing 3-4 wasps nests most days,” he said.

“And I’ve never seen so many hornets.

Dave Smith, pest controller with JG Pest Control. Picture: Jessica HillDave Smith, pest controller with JG Pest Control. Picture: Jessica Hill

“Most years, I do 10 hornets nests, and this year it was 60.”

What has caused such an increase in wasps and hornets?

While the public may assume the heatwave was to blame for this year’s plague of wasps, Mr Mills claims the cause lies in the winter chill.

One of the rats spotted near the seafront in Felixstowe Picture: WILLIAM DREHEROne of the rats spotted near the seafront in Felixstowe Picture: WILLIAM DREHER

He added: “Wasps, hornets and bats had a brilliant year because of it was steadily cold through out the winter, which meant that they all stayed in hibernation.

“In the case of wasps, that led to more queens surviving.”

Rats ‘want somewhere warm’ in winter months

While wasp numbers are starting to dwindle as temperatures fall, Paul Wood – commercial director of Killgerm, the leading distributor of chemicals used to kill pests – expects the number of call-outs for rats to rise again.

Revealing this year was the busiest for wasps in nearly two decades, he said: “The sale of rodent products were down this summer because all the pest controllers were too busy killing wasps.

But in the winter months, rats want to find somewhere warm so they go into houses.”

The influx of wasps has also led to a few Suffolk badgers walking around with sore heads.

“Badgers eat a lot of wasps nests – I’ve seen wasps nests this year with holes the size of a steering wheel where a badger has tried to get in,” explained Mr Mills.

“They leave half of it because they get stung, then they are too angry to finish it off.”

New study claims wasps support wildlife despite bad rap over sting

But although wasps and hornets get a bad rap because of their sting, a new study in Ecological Entomology points out that wasps pollinate flowers and thereby help to support wildlife, as well as acting as a barrier to the spread of illness.

Wasps have also been known to kill several types of insects that transmit human diseases.

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