I have a confession to make: I really donâ€™t like wasps. They bother my kids when weâ€™re having a picnic, they nosedive into my beer and they make a beeline (no pun intended) for my hair.
Because of the freezing temperatures last winter, this yearâ€™s a bit uncertain for the little blighters. On one hand, many wasps nests from the 2009 bumper crop may have been left untreated due to the recession. But on the other, this yearâ€™s adverse weather may have had a negative impact on wasp populations if queens didnâ€™t survive the winter months. So, with this in mind, we have launched a service to find out whatâ€™s happening with our black and yellow foes across the UK â€“ and we need your help!
UKWaspWatch is a website that plots wasp sightings geographically across the country onto an interactive Google Map, together with the severity of the incident using colour-coded markers.
If you have a Twitter profile you can take part simply by tweeting the hashtag #ukwaspwatch together with your postcode and a rating of 1-10, For example: #ukwaspwatch SW1 3/10.
The key on the website indicates whether you have encountered anything from a single wasp, to getting stung, to spotting a small/large wasps nest. You can even add some text or a short-link to a picture of the offending insect in the rest of your tweet.
UKWaspWatch also contains:
- tips on preventing and treating stings,
- dealing with wasps and waspâ€™s nests,
- some fascinating information on spheksophobia (the fear of wasps).
The application uses open-source web technology to cleverly blend the Twitter API and the Google Maps API in order to geo-code and aggregate tweets using the #ukwaspwatch hashtag. It uses a similar protocol to the #uksnow application that you may have seen during the winter.
You can find more information on the site itself at www.ukwaspwatch.co.uk, so if you have a Twitter account (and even if you donâ€™t), please take a look and help out with this study.