Watch out for wasps
David Bell was in the shower one morning last year when he realised he was not alone.
Five German wasps had flown in through the bathroom window when the light was turned on and quickly had him in a state of nude ‘‘swatting’’.
‘‘It was enough to make me yell and wake up everyone in the house,’’ Bell says.
‘‘I’m now very careful to check the windows are closed before I have a shower.’’
He was stung once and says the experience was traumatic.
German and common wasps have no natural predators in New Zealand where numbers are among the highest in the world.
The mild winters and plentiful food sources means nests can often survive for up to several seasons.
Barry Sharp from Acute Pest Eradication has been working in the industry for 40 years and knows the cycle well. ‘‘The majority of nests will die (over winter) but a few will survive.’’
Sharp says two mild winters in a row meant ‘‘it was a bad year last year, everything was just perfect for them to thrive’’.
‘‘It’s not a good sign if you’re seeing wasps in winter.’’
A 10 litre bucket-sized nest can home up to 5000 wasps. Sharp will destroy up to 500 nests in a busy season.
Any German wasp spotted at this time of the year will be a queen building its nest.
Sharp expects this summer won’t be as bad as the last.
‘‘There will still be problems but I don’t think it will be as bad as last season.
‘‘I think we’ve had a slightly wetter winter so that will definitely slow them down a bit.’’
Sharp recommends professional help and urges people to take caution if they try to destroy a nest.
‘‘If you disturb their nest they can go into a stinging frenzy.’’
Sharp can only recall one nest he couldn’t kill in all his years of wasp eradication
‘‘It was about 10 metres up a tree and it was way out on a branch. Now we have tools that can reach those nests.’’
The biggest nest he ever found was the size of a van. The world’s largest recorded wasp nest was discovered near Auckland at Waimauku and was 3.75 metres tall and 1.7m wide.
Gearing up: Exterminator Barry Sharp can destroy up to 500 nests in a busy season. A 10 litre nest, about the size of a bucket, can home up to 5000 wasps.