If Manitoba’s seemingly out-of-control wasp population is driving you crazy this summer, you’re not alone.
Jordan Bannerman, an entomologist at the University of Manitoba, told 680 CJOB the school’s “bugline” — a call-in service to help local residents identify or ask questions about insects — has been lighting up with complaints about the flying pests this season.
Bannerman said it’s not quite the worst year on record for wasps, but judging by the volume of calls the line has received so far, it’s likely the worst since 2013 or 2015.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen this many wasps in August,” he said.
“Really, at this time of year, the wasp colonies are as big as they’re going to get — each colony starts in the spring, and they get bigger and bigger throughout the year.
“When you have a dry year like this, you get even more wasps than normal.”
Bannerman said wasp colonies increase in size throughout the spring and summer, but in a typical wet season, moist conditions can introduce disease and increase wasp mortality.
When it’s very warm and very dry, the bugs will reproduce faster and are less likely to be naturally killed off.
“At this time of year, the wasps that you’re getting are the foragers — so anything you can do to remove things that attract them is a good idea,” he said.
“Any fruit or tomatoes — anything that’s starting to drop off the plant — make sure that early in the morning or late in the evening, you’re cleaning that up.
“Baited traps, placed appropriately, can also be very good. You want to place them away from where you’re spending time.”
Tony Siwicki of Silver Heights Restaurant told 680 CJOB that the wasp problem is extending to diners on local patios.
“They are so aggressive this year, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
“We actually have Benadryl in our restaurant for the customers, because they’re getting stung.
“You can’t get away from it. I think every restaurant is in the same situation.”
Wasps aren’t the only bugs irritating Manitobans at this time of year. Bannerman said the bugline is also fielding a lot of calls about crickets and grasshoppers, which are abundant for similar reasons.
“(Crickets) are largely benefiting from the same conditions that have made the wasps noticeable — same with grasshoppers,” he said.
“A lot of homeowners have noticed a very high number of crickets in their yards, starting to get into places like their garages — sometimes in their basements if they’re not well-sealed — and by virtue of their lovely singing, can be quite annoying at times as well.
“They hide. They don’t want to be seen, really. If you have crickets actually in your home, they’re active at night, which makes it a little more tricky.”
Entomologist Taz Stuart, of Poulin’s Pest Control, told Global News that crickets, while they might be annoying, are actually beneficial insects in that they eat garbage and some other insects and don’t pose any physical danger to humans.
But you still don’t want them in your house.
“They like very drought-y conditions, so you’ve seen across the last approximately three or four years, a rise in the numbers, and this year especially — it seems a little earlier than normal,” said Stuart.
“Nobody likes that sound — the chirping sound that keeps them up at night, and therefore they want to have control.
“Once they’re in the house they become a very nuisance problem because of the noise.”
Stuart said a good first step to stop crickets from coming in is to block any cracks, crevices or holes — anything they can squeeze into — as a preventive measure.