With Norfolk in the midst of a heatwave, many people will be planning to spend time outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.

But this summer's hot temperatures have also led to a rise in a common pest - wasps.

Experts have warned a mild winter and spring has caused a surge in numbers, prompting some to call 2022 the "year of the wasp".

The heat has also meant the flying insects have matured at a faster rate, leaving the worker wasps with "nothing to do" but become a "real menace".

Why are there more wasps?

Dr Quinton Fivelman, chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratory, said: "Britain has enjoyed record temperatures this year meaning more queen wasps have survived the winter and conditions have been perfect for establishing nests this spring.

"Worker wasps spend the early summer hunting insects to feed their growing colonies' larvae, which in return feed the wasps through a rich sugary secretion.

"By August most of the larvae have pupated which means worker wasps have to get their sugar fix elsewhere."

How has Norfolk been affected?

Norfolk pest control expert, Richard Pummell, says the heat has meant the larvae have matured at a faster rate, leaving the worker wasps with "nothing to do" but become a "real menace".

He said: "Usually they don't appear in larger numbers until late August and September but wasps are maturing at a quicker rate due to warmer summers.

"Once the nest has finished the workers have nothing to do so they can become a real menace.

"Some parts of Norfolk are more susceptible to wasp infestations.

"Wasps feed on live insects, which are found in higher numbers in and around trees, particularly oaks.

"This means houses near wooded areas are more susceptible, particularly places like Thetford and east of Norwich around Bramerton and Thorpe.

"Whereas coastal areas have lower numbers of wasps."

How can I avoid attracting wasps?

  • Ensure your bins are secured and have tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep windows and doors shut to avoid wasps entering your home.
  • If you have spotted a nest, keep your children and pets away from it.
  • Avoid wearing bright colours or floral patterns as this will make you look like a flower.
  • Wasps are attracted to sweeter smells so avoid wearing perfume.
  • Carefully dispose of food and drink and keep fresh food covered.
  • Grow herbs like spearmint, thyme and eucalyptus as wasps do not like aromatic scents.
  • Protect your feet by wearing closed shoes.

What should I do if a wasp chases me?

Batting, swatting or whacking a wasp can make things worse, according to pest control experts Rentokil.

If a wasp lands on you the best thing to do is stay still and let it fly off in its own time.

When wasps feel threatened they release a distress signal pheromone that alerts other wasps in the colony, which could cause them to swarm towards you in defence of their nest.

What should I do if I get stung by a wasp?

The NHS has the following advice to treat a sting:

  • Remove the sting if still in the skin
  • Wash the affected area with soap or water
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack to reduce swelling
  • Avoid scratching the area
  • Avoid home remedies like vinegar or bicarbonate of soda as they are unlikely to help
  • Ask your pharmacist for suitable treatments like antihistamines, hydrocortisone cream or ointment

Are wasps the least of our worries?

While wasps are a common nuisance in the summer months, the UK could soon be invaded by much more harmful insects that are slowly travelling north due to the warming climate.

Mr Pummell, who has over 35 years of experience in pest control, added: "Global warming could mean pests from Africa and continental Europe will move north.

"In years to come, the concern will be from other species of wasps and from other insects like tiger mosquitos, which can cause nasty bites and spread infection."