Millions of German nightmare wasps are invading homes across Britain after guzzling the juice of windfall apples making them drunk and liable to attack.
The German Wasp is characterised as slightly larger than the Common Wasp with three black spots on its face and repeatedly sting their victim.
However because their usual diet of flies and caterpillars are dwindling, with the onset of autumn, the pests have opted for a diet of ‘cider’ making them more likely to lash out.
German nightmare wasps are slightly larger than the Common Wasp with three black spots on its face
But firefighters are warning people not to use over-the-counter ‘smoke bomb’ pest controls to combat the wasps.
In the latest incident, a smoke bomb to rid a house of pests in Tidworth, Wiltshire, sparked a full-scale panic.
A crew from Ludgershall raced to Arnott Close, Tidworth, after reports of smoke alarms going off.
They found the property unoccupied but a number of pest control devices had been activated.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is now warning people that using pest control smoke bombs can inadvertently trigger fire alarm systems.
Spokeswoman Katie Cornhill said: ‘While it must have made perfect sense to set the devices and then leave home for the day, because of the fumes they generate, the smoke was enough to set off the smoke alarms.
If a wasp feels threatened, the colony will swarm out and attack
‘Smoke bombs are best used by pest control experts, as they know how to mitigate the risks, and certainly professional advice should be sought before using such devices in the home.’
Meanwhile a two-year-old toddler is recovering in Norfolk after being stung 12 times on his face by the angry wasps.
Lindsay Compton had taken her son Leo to the Orbit Housing Association playground near her home in Great Blakenham, Suffolk.
Leo was stung by a swarm of the wasps from a nest underneath the slide in the playground.
She feared he could have been stung by the German variety and rushed him to A&E.
Lindsay said: ‘There was a swarm – maybe 20 of them and they were everywhere, and three of them got into his hair.
‘It was a moment of pure panic and helplessness.
‘He was really badly swollen afterwards and was very upset for the next couple of hours.’
Because the wasp’s usual diet of flies and caterpillars are dwindling, with the onset of autumn, the pests have opted for a diet of ‘cider’ making them more likely to lash out
The swelling has now started to reduce and Lindsay said he’s returning to his normal happy self.
In a Facebook post, a council member said the wasps were acting ‘quite aggressively’ and suggested families avoid using the slide.
A spokesman for Orbit Housing Association, which manages the park, said a team of pest control contractors have now removed the nest.
Common Wasps (pictured) and their German counterparts reach their peak population in late summer and early autumn when colonies can contain up to 10,000 wasps
If people find nests under roof tiles, in the loft or even in the back garden, the advice is to leave well alone.
Fire brigades warn people not to smoke out nests after one man in Reading, Berkshire, used a blowtorch which ignited his roof.
Unlike honey bees in hives, wasps make their home in gaps and crevices in roofs and walls or even in holes in the lawn or flower beds.
If they feel threatened, the colony will swarm out and attack – and the German variety is particularly ferocious.
Hedgerows are dripping with a bumper crop of blackberries, and the wasps are also feasting on plums and damsons.
A spokesman for the East of England ambulance service said people should think twice before calling 999 when they get stung.
‘Most insect bites and stings, although they can be painful, are not dangerous and can be treated at home.
How to treat a wasp sting at home
To treat a bite or sting at home wash it with water and apply a cold compress to help reduce itchiness and swelling.
If it’s painful, over-the-counter tablets such as anti-histamines and paracetamol can help.
There are also creams and sprays available at the pharmacist.
If there is swelling or itching anywhere else on the body, or if the person is wheezing or having difficulty swallowing, they may need emergency medical treatment.
In such case it is vital to 999 as soon as possible.
‘If your symptoms persist over several days then we’d advise you to contact your GP.’
Our native British species and their German counterparts reach their peak population in late summer and early autumn when colonies can contain up to 10,000 wasps.
They can instantly send out alarm signals to mobilise the entire nest to sting an intruder – which can be someone trying to smoke them out.
Around three in 100 people suffer severe reactions to a wasp or hornet sting.
Unlike honey bees which can only sting once, wasps and hornets can attack repeatedly, injecting their victims with venom.
Wasp nests are made from chewed wood pulp and saliva and are often found underground or in a hollow tree, corner of a garden shed or loft ends.