2012 a wild year for wasps in eastern Newfoundland

A manager with a pest control company says 2012 is going down as the year of the wasp in eastern Newfoundland.

"Yes, it's a big problem this year, more so than normal," confirmed Chris Kavanaugh, the N.L. branch manager for Orkin Pest Control Canada.

Kavanagh said wasp complaints have also been plentiful this year for branches of his company across Canada.

He said an unusually long and warm summer with lots of food for the insects encouraged the growth of a large population of wasps.

Then, said Kavanaugh, tropical storm Leslie blew through the area earlier in September, destroying a lot of nests that were hanging in trees and on decks.

"Once the nest was destroyed they're kind of lost," said Kavanaugh. "Where do I go? And again, they're trying to find a place to settle for the winter."

Tom Chapman, a biologist at Memorial University, said the wasps have also been behaving aggressively because it's mating season, and the male wasps are excited.

"Their lives are only about mating," said Chapman. "But we also have the new queens for next year that have mated with the males and they're trying to get into our homes."

The good news, Chapman added, is that the males do not have stingers, and wasps eat other insects. But, Chapman continued, wasps are also attracted to sugar and protein, and they have usually found the smell of both substances on human hands.

Chapman added that the hungry, homeless and amorous insects will stick around at least until the first frost of this autumn.

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