A paper led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology published last year, analysed 25,000 trends for 726 species and calculated that on average seasonal events were occurring 11 days earlier than a generation ago. Some spring species recorded their earliest appearance since records began in the late 1700s. This year I wonder if there would be an increase on that figure as there seems to be a lot of insect activity. Whilst there is food available this shouldn’t be a problem to insects and there certainly seems to be more wasps around later in the season than last autumn.
With such mild weather following a brief cold snap it’s not surprising that nature doesn’t seem to know if it’s spring or autumn. The trees may be threadbare but there are ripe tomatoes dangling from my patio pots and the roses are in bloom.
This weekend I did some gardening. As I raked a thick blanket of soggy leaves from the lawn, a huge queen wasp buzzed past, probably scouting for somewhere sheltered to spend the winter. Inside the shed something buzzed beneath my gardening gloves. I think I had disturbed a hibernating wasp, and there’s nothing more angrier than a tired and grumpy queen. Luckily I retrieved my hand before I got stung but others in my household haven’t been so lucky.
Inside the house I have had to put a few queen wasps firmly in their place – outside. I have discovered them nesting in the cosy folds of my curtains and inside a throw. One bold wasp even tried to befriend me by snuggling sleepily inside my sweater. I briskly ended that friendship with a flick outside. Wasps don’t make good friends. As soon as you get close to them they will let you down by stinging you when you least expect it.
Even as I write these words there’s a wasp lazily drifting through the air looking for somewhere to overwinter. It has finally selected a high oak beam in the centre of the living room, within reaching distance of the vacuum cleaner.
I suspect there must be a wasp nest nearby. I’m finding dead wasps on the floor daily. They buzz around irritatingly then drop out of the air like Kamikaze wasps and lie half-dead on the carpet, waiting for someone to stand on them like an evil death-wish. Although the weather seems to be getting milder unfortunately for wasps they don’t have the life expectancy to live for more than a few weeks. As soon as the first frost bites the workers wasps will die off, leaving behind an empty nest of crumbling carcasses.