My absolute favourite time of year is when the clocks go forward at the end of March and the evenings start to get lighter. The days are longer and warmer, the gloom of winter lifts and I start looking forward to a summer filled with picnics, barbecues and lazy weekends with friends and family. The feeling is even better when the sun comes to play early in the year and we get a bright and warm spring. And 2011 is certainly delivering on that count, with us set to have a beautiful Easter weekend.
There is a downside to all this cheeriness, however: wasps. Along with a mini April heatwave comes the early start of wasp season. Last year was a bumper season for our black and yellow friends, with enquiries for Rentokil’s wasp control services rising by around 25% year-on-year. And 2011 promises to be, arguably, even busier if the unusually warm weather is anything to go by.
Last year we introduced UKWaspWatch, an initiative that enabled us to track trends in wasp populations across the country via the power of the tweet. We encouraged Twitter users to tweet when they spotted wasps, or were stung, or discovered a nest, including their postcode and the special #UKWaspWatch hashtag. Tweets were automatically marked on a map of the UK using our custom-built application, building up a picture of where wasps were most prevalent over the summer.
THIS YEAR, UKWASPWATCH IS BACK
And it’s now bigger and better, with a Facebook app and an option to mark directly onto the map itself. Given how much Twitter users loved the app in 2010, we decided to extend its functionality so that EVERYONE can use it, regardless of whether or not you have a Twitter profile. So we now have a brand new Facebook page devoted to our Vespa vulgaris friends where you can log your sightings, at www.facebook.com/ukwaspwatch. Or you can visit the website at www.ukwaspwatch.co.uk and use the new postcode finder. And you can still tweet as well. We’ll also be touring the country this summer in a special IQ Car, pitching up at some of the summer’s biggest outdoor events (alas, we don’t have an invite to the Royal Wedding). We’ll be running competitions online to win some cool stuff as we go, so follow our progress and learn all about wasps and how to deal with them by ‘Liking’ the Facebook page and/or following us on Twitter.
We’re set for a long, hot summer and an extended wasp season. And it’s already started. So please get involved this Easter by logging your sightings!