Year of the wasp: Yellow jackets spike in numbers as pests scavenge for food – The Province

That long, dry summer is having some painful side-effects — and we’re not talking sunburn.

Heat-loving wasps are out in huge numbers, making life miserable for patio lovers — and much more tragic for at least one B.C. man.

A 60-year-old male with a known allergy was found collapsed in a Sooke parking lot on July 30 — the victim of a wasp or bee sting.

B.C. coroner Barbara McLintock said he was rushed to hospital, but couldn’t be revived.

“They’re nasty right now,� said Ryan Dreyer of Westside Pest Control, donning his sting-proof hoodie and screened helmet before tackling a wasp nest in Katherine Burlin’s Point Grey home.

“They’re the scavengers of the bee world — if they see your hamburger, your steak, your fruit, they want it.

“Last year we were getting three to five wasp calls a day — this year it’s eight to 10.�

Burlin and her partner, Jeff Watchorn, tried a number of recommended solutions, then finally called Dreyer.

“Jeff used a pressure washer last summer to get rid of the nest, but they’re back again this year,� said Burlin, pointing to a swarm of wasps emerging from her home’s cedar shakes.

“We have a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, and they’ve both been stung.�

Dreyer dons his respirator, climbs a ladder and sprays a green solution into a number of openings where wasps have burrowed into the siding, sending clouds of wasps buzzing away angrily.

“If I don’t have to use pesticide, I won’t — I just take a large bag and grab the whole nest.�

Treatment applied, Burlis is relieved and Dreyer is hopeful he’s done all he can.

“There were three openings, so you have to spray them all,� he said.

“There are probably three queens — if I get every other wasp and leave just one queen, she’ll start laying eggs and we’ll have more wasps.�

Though painful, wasp bites are non-lethal — except in rare cases where a bite triggers an allergic reaction leading to anaphylactic shock.

An EpiPen that some allergy sufferers carry with them delivers epinephrine as an antidote, but must be administered quickly to remedy the symptoms, which include difficulty breathing, itching and hives.

Westside’s Mike Londry said the warm summer was great for humans — and wasps: “It’s been a terrific year if you’re a wasp. Wasps love sweets, and they love protein. You’d be brave to eat a steak on your back porch this September.�

In addition to old-school remedies — an inflated paper bag (or a commercially bought Waspinator) hung from a tree or a roof will often deter territorial wasps who mistake it for a competing nest — Londry recommends pheromone traps that’ll deter wasps before they call your home their home.

Sweet-smelling soaps, shampoos and aftershave can also attract the insects.

“In the middle of the summer, they’re busy working and foraging,� said Dreyer.

“This time of year, if you get in their way they’ll bite you.�

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Year of the wasp: Yellow jackets spike in numbers as pests scavenge for food – The Province
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