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Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 14:05 UK
Teessiders told to 'love wasps'

David MacMillan
By David Macmillan
BBC Tees

A wasp

CBBC Newsround: Wasps invade the UK

July is the peak season for wasps, but while many see the insect as a dangerous pest, experts on Teesside are urging us to love them.

Middlesbrough Council's Pest Control Centre have said wasps, whose numbers are at their height in July and August, are a vital part of the local eco-system and their nests should be protected whenever possible.

Wasp
Wasp colonies are a good form of local pest control

Wasps, though, have an image problem.

They are seen as evil, skinny, vicious, ugly little wretches whose sole aim in life is climbing into your condiments and traumatising your children.

Whereas bees carry have a much friendlier and welcoming profile.

They are cute, flabby and fuzzy. They make charming cartoon characters and, most importantly, they make tasty, sweet and healthy honey.

But we shouldn't feel that way, according to officers at Middlesbrough Council's Pest Control Centre.

"They do some good," said Chris Hudson, a senior pest control officer.

"They go out and catch aphids, and they kill little bugs and larvae which cause damage to crops. So they are a good form of pest control themselves."

Like the bee, wasps are talented little insects too and masters at building. Chris has an abandoned wasps' nest in his office - it's an intricately built property.

The outside looks like an oversized football made from thousands of rainbow shaped pieces of cardboard. The inside looks like a honeycombed holiday camp for 10,000 insects.

Natural talent for recycling

Chris said they have a natural talent for recycling when building their homes.

"The nest is actually made from wood pulp, It's chewed and regurgitated and turned into paper fibres, which they use to make the cells, then the surrounding dome."

Wasps' nest
A wasps' nest is made from chewed wood fibres, mixed with saliva

Mid-summer is the wasp's favourite time of year and large colonies emerge in homes and gardens, but you shouldn't try to to remove a wasp nest without seeking professional help.

"We try to discourage the public from going out and trying to treat them themselves," said Chris.

A normal sized nest can grow up to two feet wide and you can have anything from five to 10,000 wasps in that nest."

Although Chris wants us to view the wasp with a new level of appreciation and respect, it does not mean we should stop being wary of them.

"They can be very dangerous. If they sting around the head or neck area and you suffer from anaphylactic shock you've got problems," he said.

Midsummer is also the peak period for the wasp's big cousin, the hornet, but if you think you may have a hornet's nest on your property the advice is; 'settle yourself, you don't have a hornet's nest on your property'.

"We don't have that problem in this region," said Chris

"Hornets are just down south, we don't have them up north. Early on in the season we get calls from people believing they have hornets, but it isn't.

"It's probably just a queen which has come out to look for a nest for the new season," he added.




SEE ALSO
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