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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Giant 'Euro-wasp' plague warning
Wasp, BBC
Native wasps are dwarfed by their giant European cousins
Gardeners and parents are being warned about giant "Euro-wasps" colonising parts of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Their football size nests are being found in garden shrubs and bushes and each contains up to 20,000 insects.

Andy Noy, a pest controller from Leiston in Suffolk, said the huge insects started flying across the North Sea from the Continent 15 years ago.

"They're bigger than our own variety, carry more venom and nest in the open where youngsters can disturb them."

More of the giant wasps have been seen this year as a result of fewer queens dying during the relatively warm East Anglian winters.

They nest in shrubs and bushes so it's much more frightening for little children who may come across them while playing in the garden and get stung
Andy Noy

Mr Noy said: "I've been in the business for 17 years and they suddenly started arriving about 15 years ago.

"At that time we were dealing with two or three nests a season, from May to September, but this year I've already been called out to 20 nests."

The "super wasps" belong to a strain which grows to more than twice the size of native British species which live underground or in lofts.

Mr Noy said: "They nest in shrubs and bushes so it's much more frightening for little children who may come across them while playing in the garden and get stung.

"The nest looks like a grey football and the nest fabric is much tougher than common wasp nests. Gardeners are getting stung big time."

Wasps spread when a female wasps leaves the nest and finds a safe place to hibernate through the winter.

Some will die but the survivors give birth to male wasps who build and protect a new nest which will eventually contain thousands of wasps.

Mr Noy said: "Once we get into late September and October these wasps will be very angry and there will be more queens, which will hibernate and next year you could end up with 100 more nests."


SEE ALSO:
Rare wasp cancels village plans
22 Mar 05 |  Suffolk
Farm changes 'behind wasp plague'
10 Aug 04 |  Science/Nature


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