Wasps and wasp nests have been extremely low in numbers this year. This follows an ‘average’ year with regarding wasps and wasp nest populations in 2013 which was preceded by a disastrous year in 2012. I say disastrous, well it is for the pest control companies finances but not if you are trying to have a barbecue but any outdoor activity in late Summer.
There are two main types of wasps in England, the German and Common wasps. The German wasp is more likely to nest outside but also in lofts and other building cavities. You can tell the difference by studying the individual links but the easiest way is by the cloud of the nest, German wasp nests are grey where as the Common Wasp is a creamy brown colour with whorls on. This year the number of outside nests (in bushes, trees and hedges) was extremely low. The low number was probably caused by the Winter flooding which would kill a lot of hibernating Queens.
The low number of Common Wasps is a bit of a mystery, the Spring weather although wet was warm which although not ideal for Queen wasps emerging from hibernation it was not considered by experts to be bad as cold and wet weather in Spring. If Queens die off then the number of nests is small and so the overall population is low. There have been a noticeable drop in insect numbers in the last three years. No one seems to know why and the low level of wasp nest numbers may be linked to this. PEST UK has been running with the same owners since 1989 and the number of wasp nest jobs has been recorded since then and never before has there been two years as poor (in wasp nest numbers) so close to each other. ‘Poor’ years do occur on a regular basis but normally only every five years or so.