With wasp numbers expected to be at a seven year high over the August bank holiday weekend and in early September, we look at what people can do to avoid being stung by the insects.
With a mini heat-wave expected in the coming weeks wasps are likely to be plaguing picnics and beer gardens,
But while many have a fear of the stripey yellow and black insects, wildlife experts say that wasps play a vital role in our environmental ecology and should not be seen as the enemy.
We have all seen people waving their arms around frantically like a windmill when wasps are buzzing around, but experts say the best advice to prevent being stung is to keep calm.
They say wasps will only sting if they feel threatened. If a wasp lands on you, don’t flap at it or try to brush it off – it will sting you. Just stay still and let it fly off in its own time.
Another way to lessen the chances of getting attention from wasps is to wear white or light clothing. Wasps (and bees) are iterated to colourful clothes, especially those with floral patterns.
If you should get stung by a wasp wash the sting area with soap and water to remove as much of the venom as possible. Apply a cold pack to the wound site to reduce swelling and pain and keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection.
The majority of people without sting allergies will show only minor symptoms during and after a wasp sting. The initial sensations can include sharp pain or burning at the sting site. Redness, swelling, and itching can occur as well. Painkillers and antihistamines can help.
Contact your GP or call NHS 111 for advice if your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days or are getting worse, if you’ve been stung or bitten in your mouth or throat, or near your eyes or a large area (around 10cm or more patch of skin) around the bite becomes red and swollen. Also call if you have symptoms of a wound infection, such as pus or increasing pain, swelling or redness.
Dr Seirian Sumner of University College London said: “Wasps are nature’s pest controllers and a world without wasps would mean that we would have to use a lot more pesticides to control the other insects that we dislike and find annoying.”
Wasps are increasingly recognised as valuable pollinators, transferring pollen as they visit flowers to drink nectar. It is actually their thirst for sweet liquids that explains why they become so bothersome at this time of year.
Pictured are wasps swarming on Hastings Pier earlier this month.