Brits warned over ‘drunk and irritable’ wasps

Boozy insects getting lairy in their quest to consume sugar


Getting stung by an angry wasp is one of the risks of the Great British Summer, as the insects swarm around beer gardens and picnic tables across the country.

However, it turns out that, like many humans, wasps can get especially lairy when they’ve had a few too many.

Their late summer diet of fermented fruit means the insects “can become intoxicated and rather irritating”, says the Sussex Wildlife Trust. Or, as the Daily Mirror has it, “lager louts”.

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The Trust says that older wasps are unable to eat their usual diet of flies because of a constricting band that develops around their abdomen.

Instead, “the workers chew up the prey and feed it to the larvae – in return, the larvae produce a sugar-rich spit that the workers can drink”, says the Trust.

However, when the queen of the hive stops laying eggs in the summer, the supply dries up, leaving the sugar-addicted wasps in need of a “fix”.

Their search for the sweet stuff drives them to gorge themselves on overripe fruit, which ferments and gives off alcohol as it decays.

Desperate wasps will also dip into sugary alcoholic drinks, such as cider, left unattended by summertime revellers, which only exacerbates the problem. “Tiny doses of alcohol are enough to make wasps 'irritable' and more likely to sting,” says the Daily Mail.

Shane Jones, who runs a pest control company in Basingstoke, told the Mirror that wasps are “very aggressive at this time of year”.

“Wasps can't handle their booze, so they get tanked-up and fighty - like lager louts,” he said.

It’s not only leftover booze that gets wasps in a tizzy, however. Anything with a high sugar content, such as jam or fizzy drinks, is liable to attract unwelcome attention.

Dee Ward-Thompson, technical manager at the British Pest Control Association, says that waste disposal is the “most influential factor on wasp numbers”, and urges Brits not to leave leftover food and drink out in the open.

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