Wasps endanger Edmonton waste management workers

WATCH ABOVE: The city’s waste management department is asking residents to do a few things to protect collectors from wasp stings. Kendra Slugoski has the details.

EDMONTON – The Capital City’s waste management department has seen four serious wasp encounters already this year and it’s expecting even more.

As the weather gets colder and food supplies diminish, yellow jackets can get very aggressive and sting collectors when they pick up the garbage.

“There is more this year, it seems,” said waste collector Derek Pleasant.

“I’ve been stung once this year… He had his cans inside a wooden enclosure and I moved the can and there was a … hive up in the corner and I didn’t see it. A wasp came down and stung my arm,” said Pleasant.

“Drop everything, get into your truck, and get away from it and call your foreman to come and they’ll spray your wasp for you. Then you go back and collect the garbage afterwards and go talk to the resident – let them know there’s a wasp in their stand.”

Story continues below advertisement

“Quite a few guys have been stung this year.”

Waste management officials say they have roaming foremen carry EpiPens with them just in case an employee gets stung multiple times.

READ MORE: Top 5 things you should know about wasps 

Myles Curry, with the city’s waste management services, says the department has already seen some serious cases.

“Someone will take a bag that has a number of wasps or it’s maybe under a wasp nest and wasps will do a mass attack or they’ll swarm the collector and they’ll have multiple stings.

“That creates an allergic reaction even in someone who wouldn’t be normally allergic to wasps and that’s where they require having to go to the hospital.”

The threat has become so serious that the city is asking residents to take certain steps with their garbage to help protect collectors.

– Ensure that garbage bags are tied up and cans have lids

– Keep waste storage area clean

– Bag empty wine crates, as wasps are attracted to sugar and alcohol

– Remove wasp nests from garbage areas as soon as they are discovered

Story continues below advertisement

– Use wasp traps

– Pick up all apples from lawns

– If you have a compost pile, make sure to turn it regularly and always cover fresh waste such as apples and vegetables with dry leaves or soil

“It’s a combination of open bags, mostly apples, and also in the enclosures… a nest hidden in the enclosure,” said Pleasant.

Curry asks residents to help keep the collectors – and members of the public – safe.

“It’s about reducing the risk for our collectors. We aren’t going to be able to get rid of wasps, but keeping all of your bags closed, keeping lids on your garbage and making sure the area around your waste is clean.”

Edmonton waste collectors battle wasps, September 16, 2014. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

In August, an Edmonton fumigator said he had received about 15 per cent more calls about wasps than he did last summer.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: ‘Hot, hot, hot creates lots more wasps,’ says Edmonton fumigator

“It’s been pretty hectic this year,” said James Baxter with Birch Fumigators. “The phones have been ringing off the hook at our offices as well as other professional exterminators around town.”

He blamed the increase on the hot weather the Capital Region saw this summer.

For more information about how to deal with yellow jackets, click here.