Avoid wasps spoiling outdoor autumn events
Why wasps gatecrash all the best BBQs and outdoor events
As summer ticks by, there is a natural desire to make the best use possible of each shortening evening or upcoming weekend and to enjoy eating or drinking outdoors; whether it’s a barbecue for friends, a picnic with family or a romantic sunset for two at the beach.
On every occasion, the one gate-crasher you definitely don’t want to turn up is a wasp.
But time after time, at this point of the year, that annoying buzz can be heard. And, unlike in the spring, this time they seem hell-bent on whatever food or drink you’ve thought to bring along.
What is going on?
The answer is that the wasp at this time of year really is after your food and drink, whereas it was far more interested in flies, aphids or caterpillars in the spring and early summer.
Wasps are actually our friends – most of the time. Farmers and gardeners rely on them as the natural predators for even worse insects. During this period, the worker wasps are finding food – protein – to satisfy the nest full of larvae.
That young generation needs the energy to grow, and the worker wasps take little of the protein for themselves. Instead, they keep going by relying on a carbohydrate-rich sugary secretion that the larvae produce. It’s a virtuous circle, while it lasts.
You see, wasps live for one season. So, as the summer passes, the number of larvae left to hatch into adult workers declines and worker wasps begin to outrun the supply of that sugary secretion – which scientists believe is the key nutrient for adult wasps.
The result: the adults must look for their sugary fix from somewhere else… like your picnic.
They are still a good thing for nature: as they search flowers for a fix of something sweet, wasps will pollinate – and they can be just as effective as bees.
But wait, isn’t this all bad news for our autumn outings?
Well, there are things you can do to mitigate the risk.
Some people suggest scented candles, or having some ground coffee smouldering (but be careful with burning embers if the surrounding ground is tinder dry). Another option is to bring a portion for the wasps. Typically, they are always cautious of people, so if you leave a few easy pickings a little way off it is likely any wasp that is around will focus on that, and not the mouthful in your hand.