Missing the buzz of autumn? Wasp numbers down by 85% this year

A less common visitor this autumn. Photo: Depositphotos
A less common visitor this autumn. Photo: Depositphotos

Wasp numbers have plummeted this year as unfavourable weather has dampened the prospects for the stripy pests.

A study by Wageningen University & Research for website Nature Today found that the number of nests found by pest controllers was around 15% to 20% of the level of an average year.

Biologist Arnold van Vliet said the wasps had been hit by extreme temperatures at crucial periods for their development in both winter and summer.

The heavy cold snap in February was followed by a rapid rise in temperature, the trigger for queens to emerge from their hibernation too early. Queen wasps depend on nectar to survive the spring, but most flowers had not started producing it.

The creatures also suffered from the heavy rain in parts of the country in July, which interfered with their efforts to build nests.

‘Summer downpours in particular, which are increasing with climate change, have a big effect,’ Van Vliet told nu.nl. ‘Not just for wasps, but for all flying insects.

‘Normally flying insects shelter under plants when it rains, but if the rainfall is intense they get washed away. One extreme downpour can mean the end of a nest.

‘There hasn’t been much research into it, but this must have influenced lots of other species.’

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