Councils across Scotland saw a spike in wasp pest control visits as callouts for the insect nearly doubled from 2020/21 to 2021/2022.
Another insect is also showing signs of a return as pest controllers warn of an influx of bedbugs following the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
Of the 21 local authorities which broke down their pest control visits to include data on wasps nesting within and outside homes, only one council, South Ayrshire, saw the figures decline in the twelve months up to the end of June 2022.
Overall, the figures shared with The Herald showed an increase from 5685 to 10,628 wasp visits across Scotland.
A total of eleven of those councils had seen the number of pest control visits needed for wasps at least double.
The biggest spike in visits was in South Lanarkshire where there were 760 wasp-related pest control visits in 2020/2021 but 1685 in 2021/2022.
Fife was second behind South Lanarkshire for the biggest spike in callouts for wasps in 2021/2022 with 1530 visits, up from 746.
Director of Edinburgh-based Barricade Pest Control, Rebekah Carral, said they were still getting up to fifteen calls about wasp nests this October.
“We have just been so busy with [wasp callouts]. it has been quite a year for that. Even now into October we’re still getting a good steady flow of wasp calls every day.”
City of Edinburgh Council had seen a 88.06% increase in wasp visits from 2020/21 to 2021/2022.
However, Ms Carral warned that colleagues at different businesses did not see the same workload this summer.
Pest Solutions managing director Chris Cagienard said: “The season looked like it was going to be a particularly busy wasp season and it turned out not to be.
“It may be that because of the increase in other things that the commercial pest controllers have been handling, the councils might have taken up the slack of it with more of the wasp nests.
“This year we have seen a really quiet season on the wasp front.”
The numbers of wasps depend on the weather earlier in the year, a British Pest Control Association (BPCA) technician John Horsely said.
Sudden frost after a two-to-three-week period of warm weather can nip their numbers in the bud, he said: “That weather shuts them down quite a lot, so you’ll have a higher mortality rate of new queens.
“If we don’t get that obviously then we get new queens that are able to survive a little bit more efficiently. “
Mr Cagienard added: “We thought it looked like an early start to strong numbers of wasps but it did not compare in significant numbers.”
While many commercial pest controllers have not seen an influx of wasps, bedbug callouts have surged again after a reported drop during the Covid lockdowns.
“We always notice after the Fringe, we have a surge in bedbugs and a surge in rodents as well,” Ms Carral said.
“That did quiet down over the August months of 2020 and 2021 because the festival wasn’t happening, and people weren’t coming in and out of the city.
“This year with everyone going on holiday and the Fringe festival running, that’s come back again. We are now back to being constantly busy with things like bedbugs and pests that travel with people.”
The numbers of the biting insect naturally fell as Covid restrictions and lockdowns saw travel come to a halt for many people.
BPCA technician Mr Horsley said: “Bedbugs are transported in people’s luggage.
“The nymph of a bedbug, scientists have found, can actually squeeze through the closed zipper of a suitcases.”
It may also be difficult to find the source of the issue, Mr Horsley said: “It can take sort of 10 to 14 days before you start to get a lump that is before you know you’ve been bitten, and by that point you could have stayed in three or four different hotels.”
Only 14 councils were able to provide figures for bedbug-related pest control visits, showing an overall increase from 235 to 287 in the more recent statistics.
Edinburgh had the highest number of council callouts with 101 visits, up from 76, followed by North Lanarkshire at 73, up from 51. Three councils saw the number of visits fall in 2021/2022.
Other insects, such as silverfish and beetles, and arachnids increased from 2020/2021, according to insect specific figures provided by 20 councils.
However, ant issues seemed to decline considerably with total confirmed council visits for the insect changing from 2058 across 18 councils to 1679.
Giving advice on keeping insect numbers in check, Mr Horsley said: “We always look at environmental management and what can we do to make the environment unfavourable for pests.
“You’re never going to stop wasps and insects, you can minimise that by making sure there’s no food left out, making sure there’s no debris, work surfaces are clean, and you don’t have excessive damp because that can provide a home to a number of different beetles.”
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