It’s finally beginning to heat up across the Northern Hemisphere, but hold up before you head to the park and fire up the BBQ.
Experts have warned there could be a flood of German “super” wasps to the United Kingdom, according to The Sun. A mild spring and pleasant start to the summer (well, pleasant for the UK at least) have created ideal conditions for these wasps to reproduce.
These wasps also pack a nasty punch, capable of delivering several painful stings to an unsuspecting victim. Since they often nest in buildings and scavenge food, they frequently come into contact with humans – although their sting shouldn’t be any worse than a common wasp and no deaths have ever been officially attributed to them.
Like many species of wasp, seasonal changes are important. The German wasp hibernates over winter. During late-winter and early-spring, the queen hunts for a new nest and the workers become active from May until November.
“Many insects will have come out of hibernation early to seek food,” said Ian Urquhart of Advanced Pest Management, according to The Sun. “It means we could have more prolific breeding trends and a larger population. We will only know for sure later in the year but we could be facing a bumper season.”
The species is known as the German wasp or German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica). Despite their name, they are native to Europe but can now be found in temperate climates across the world. They became established in the northeastern US during the 1970s and reached down to Southern California by 1991.
They are about the same size as their common cousin, Vespula vulgaris, measuring in at around 1.3 centimeters (0.5 inches) in length, although you can distinguish them by the three tiny black dots on the front of their face.
While it might sound bad to have your summer surrounded by these wasps, they have actually declined in numbers over the past decades, much like V. vulgaris.