Now it's official. It's the worst year for wasps in a decade. In fact the dour pest controller interviewed on Breakfast News a couple of days ago said it's one of the 2 worst instances he's seen in thirty years. Last week the cafe at Dyrham Park - a National Trust property close to here - had to be closed temporarily whilst a nest nearby was dealt with. I understand the situation there's much better now.
At Garden Organic on Tuesday, everyone was partaking in a new dance: the waft a wasp away. This isn't the thing to do if they get rather interested in you as it can anger them even more and increase the likelihood of stinging. Instead, you should stay absolutely still until they get bored and move on. I find muttering go away makes me feel like I'm actually doing something positive whilst playing at statues. I've also changed my approach to raspberry picking: the fruit tends to get a bit hidden under the foliage, so it's very easy to reach underneath to pick and not realise a wasp has just nipped in there. Now I have a good look first and find other fruit to pick if they're around.
I've also put out some traps: lovely coloured glass 'beehives' filled with sugar water to attract them away from my fruit. As you can see, the wasps have upped the ante and bought in reinforcements. Thank goodness these don't get stirred up as easily as their waspish cousins: the pictured hornet just glared at me whilst I picked my way round my raspberry canes.
If you do get stung, it's best to remove yourself from the area at once as the sting delivers a double whammy: a nasty poison plus a pheromone which can attract other wasps in the area to join in the attack. Luckily they didn't in my case even though I did continue to pick my raspberries. However, I did need to go home after a while as I started to react to the venom: the NHS Direct website has information on what to do should this happen to you.
Which pests are you finding the most troublesome this year?