‘It’s extremely busy’: Calgary sees spike in wasp calls in August

August is typically wasp season in Calgary, but city officials and pest extermination experts have said this summer has been particularly busy.

Peter Canada, a resident of northwest Calgary, said he noticed wasps around his home after a nest sprung up in his neighbour’s siding.

“They got rid of it, but next thing I know they’re building a nest right by our front steps there,” Canada said. “The problem we ran into is [when] I went to a couple stores, they didn’t have anything…. they didn’t really have any products for wasps, so I began to think, ‘Well is there a problem in Calgary?’”

Read more: Alberta drought spurs wasp influx; here’s how to get rid of them

Experts said that there is no current tracking of wasp populations in Calgary, and there is no way to tell if there is a larger population this year compared to years past.

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However, for Bill Martin, who runs local extermination company Martin’s Pest Control, the calls continue to roll in.

“I would say we’re doing triple the number of calls for wasps this year on average,” Martin said. “Right now I would say 30 to 40 per cent of our calls are for wasps.”

Martin said he believes there are several factors as to why there are more wasp calls this summer compared to previous years.

According to Martin, more people are staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are renovating their homes and uncovering hidden nests. Wet spring weather could also be contributing to the extra buzzing.

“We had such a large amount of rain earlier this year, the rain has created more insects and so there’s more food for wasps,” Martin said. “Nests were larger earlier this year.”

For people looking to get rid of a pesky wasp nest in their yard, Martin said the best approach is to spray the nest in the middle of the night, while wearing protection. He said if the nest is inside the building’s envelope, its best to call the experts as a heavier duty response would be needed.

“Don’t go out in the middle of the night and think about [using] spray foam or caulking or whatever,” Martin said. “We’ve had a couple calls this week already with people sealing the wasps in their house and waking up overnight with wasps chewing through their ceiling.”

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Martin suggested calling the professionals even just for advice, a suggestion that comes on the same day that EMS confirmed a Calgary man was taken to hospital with serious burns after attempting to get rid of a wasp nest with gasoline.

“We can give them advice, and help them do it themselves if its safe to do so,” Martin said.

Read more: Calgary woman develops blister ‘about the size of an egg’ after wasp sting

The City of Calgary said its also receiving complaints through 311 regarding wasps.

City officials said there have been 67 calls between March and August.

“If its in a public area and its a safety risk to citizens, then we would considering controlling wasps,” parks integrated pest management technician Alexandra Pepperdine said. “But if the wasps are on private property or if they’re in an area where they don’t represent a safety risk, then we will just leave them.”

According to Rob Longair, a former biological sciences professor at the University of Calgary, it may be best to leave nests alone if they aren’t in a place with no risk to humans, as wasps do eat insects like mosquitoes.

“Unless you’re someone who has a real allergy to them, so the potential for anaphylactic shock if they get stung, its best to leave nests that aren’t interfering with your day-to-day activities alone and let them do their job,” Longair said.

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