The scorching British summer has fuelled an early soft berry crop and an attendant super army of wasps.
Pest controllers across Scotland and the north of England say they can’t remember a summer like it and have been rushed off their feet exterminating the pests.
Super hives some 15,000 strong have proliferated in the recent sweltering conditions.
And things are only going to get worse as drunken worker wasps gorging on fermenting fruit turn increasingly aggressive.
“It seems like all we are doing is being called to deal with wasps nests,” said Heidi Wise, director of Cumbria-based Pied Piper Northern Ltd pest controllers.
“Compared to previous years, it is the busiest we have ever been and is showing no signs of slowing down.”
The heatwave has resulted in some soft fruits ripening almost a month ahead of schedule, according to the Woodland Trust.
Wasps feed off fallen berries and fruits. Pest control experts have warned that, as fruits have developed earlier than normal, queen wasps are producing more eggs and larger nests.
Worker wasps are attracted to the large crops of strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and cherries causing them to become “drunk” and aggressive.
Pest expert Ross Graham of Graham Environmental Services, which operates across Scotland, said his team had been called out to more than 2,000 wasps nests already this summer. That compares to just 505 during the cold summer of 2012.
“They certainly seem to have begun a lot earlier in the year since the start of this nice spell of weather,” he said. “Come the end of the season in September, their nests are usually the size of a football but some are that size already.
“There can be 10,000 to 15,000 in a single nest.”
Angry wasps have already been wreaking havoc across the UK in the past few weeks. A pair of 12-year-old girls were rushed to hospital after being stung more than 30 times in a wasp attack in Lockerbie.
Lisa McKinney and Louise Finlay were left in agony after the wasps swarmed all over them. They had accidentally disturbed the wasps’ nest while playing hide and seek near a park last week.
Lisa’s mum Marianne Webster, 41, said: “She was screaming her head off and was in complete agony. When she started asking me to cut her legs off because she couldn’t stand the pain, I was heartbroken because I felt like there was nothing I could do.”
The girls were given anti-histamine injections and sent home to rest.
Laurence Barnard of the British Pest Control Association said figures were not yet available for this year’s wasp populations. But he said the association’s members were reporting a surge in the number of huge wasp nests.
He said: “In 2012 we had a really wet and terrible summer and the number of wasps was close to nothing across the board.
“In 2013 the populations were a lot bigger and, from what I have seen so far this year, they are going to be bigger still.”