The reason for the higher number of wasps in Manitoba this year

This year may seem like the year of the wasp as the pesky insect population has had a banner year, according to one entomologist.

Rob Currie, a professor and head of University of Manitoba entomology, said the healthy population can be attributed to a trifecta of factors; the winter, a successful spring nesting period, and a hot, dry summer.

“The single most important factor is what the winter is like and if you have a relatively mild winter you have a lot more queens that will enter the spring alive,” said Currie.

While many people find them annoying, wasps help out in ways you may not realize.

Like bees, wasps do feed on flowers and pollinate some plants. The more unknown benefit of wasps is that they are predators and feed on other insects.

“A single wasp colony, that might consist of 500-1,500 individuals, can consume about 200-240 flies an hour, so imagine if the wasps weren’t there and how many flies you’d have in your yard,” said Currie.

If you are looking to rid your yard of the wasps, Currie said the best thing to do is try to find the nest. He said wasps rarely travel more than 400-500 metres from their home so there is a good chance the nest will actually be in your yard.

Once located, Currie said to spray the opening of the nest with pesticide and cut it down in the evening. Then spray again and dispose of the nest.

Another option, he said, is to trap the wasps. An easy DIY solution is to take a larger plastic bottle, cut off the top and insert it back in the bottle upside down.

Then, if you fill the bottle with a sugar syrup of some kind mixed with some soapy water, the wasps will get in but will not be able to get out. They will eventually drown. Currie said this process is slower and won’t take out the population, but it will significantly reduce numbers.

-With files from CTV’s Michael Hutchinson.