Love or loathe them, wasps are the marmite of the animal kingdom but are more hate than love. They are perceived as scary, useless and a nuisance but these common perceptions are unfair and wasps, much like the adored bee, play a vital role in the environment.
Summer is traditionally the busiest time for visits to the waterways, with millions of people hanging out at waterside pub gardens, parks and cafés, and the wild species people are most likely to encounter – and notice – is the wasp.
For many this is a negative experience, but by following a few simple tips, the Trust believes people can reduce their stress levels and perhaps even find a new respect for this enormously important species.
- Try to keep food and drink covered. The sweet smell of food and drink, especially alcohol, is really appealing to wasps.
- Wear red clothes and avoid white and yellow clothes: wasps are attracted to white and yellow but can't see red.
- Don't flap! – waving your arms around agitates wasps making them feel threatened and therefore more likely to sting. Instead move away until it has gone.
- If a wasp lands on you wait for it to fly off or brush it gently with a piece of paper. Do not brush it off with your hand.
- Never try to remove a wasp nest yourself: contact an expert or your local council.
- If you get stung by a wasp, seek medical attention.
Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, explains: "It's fair to say that wasps are probably among the nation's least favourite insects, but with a little more understanding and some small changes in our behaviour there's no reason why we can't have a more harmonious relationship with them.
"Many of the common perceptions about wasps are unfair and, like their more popular cousin the bee, they're some of the most important insects in the world. They have an important role in pollination and pest control – helping farmers and gardeners – they recycle dead wood into beautiful papery nests and they are a vital link in lots of food chains."
Great Nature Watch
Canals and rivers provide a fantastic nature reserve right on your doorstep and they're free. By taking part in the charity's annual Great Nature Watch campaign you can not only increase your own nature know-how by spotting and listening to a wide variety of wildlife but help us monitor the varieties and numbers of different species living on our waterways, which is essential when looking after and maintaining the network.
Wildlife sightings can be submitted by downloading the Trust's free mobile app: eNatureWatch (or search Canal & River Trust in the Apple App Store /Google Play Store). Anyone can take part and record as many sightings as they like between now and the end of September.
Please visit canalrivertrust.org.uk/great-nature-watch for more details and to test your own nature knowledge or join in the conversation on Twitter at #greatnaturewatch