What can landlords do about anti-social wasps?

With signs of a bumper wasp season being seen across the country due to the mild winter, pest managers have indicated they’re concerned wasp activity will be high for a second year in a row and are urging people to ‘watch out for wasps’.

It is not always clear whether the responsibility for clearing up a wasp’s nest rests with the landlord or the tenant, but wasps in properties can affect brickwork and pose a threat to the health and safety of tenants, so it is important that landlords are well-informed when it comes to wasps. Other than checking whether your insurance covers removal of nests (which Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s Premier policy does), how should landlords deal with anti-social wasps in their rental property?

Our guest blog from the British Pest Control Association explores what landlords can do to protect their interests when it comes to dealing with wasps.


The British Pest Control Association advises landlords about wasps

There are few things that ruin the summer like a wasp infestation. They induce fear, cause complaints and could potentially leave your tenants with a nasty sting. But is there more for a landlord to worry about than the nuisance factor of wasps? Natalie Bungay, British Pest Control Association’s Technical Officer, investigates the public health and safety concerns relating to wasps and asks what landlords can do to protect their interests.

Queen wasps emerge and start working on new nests in the spring, as the weather gets warmer. But around now, in the summer, wasp nests are working overtime. Up to 300 eggs are being produced every day, with up to 5,000 adults feeding grubs and building the nest structure.

In the UK you’re most likely to come across the ‘common wasp’ (Vespula vulgaris) and German Wasps, which are also known as European wasps or German yellowjackets (Vespula germanica). Both species are yellow and black striped, with painful stings that can cause allergic reactions.

Sugary drinks, foods and the natural environment all provide an attractive place for wasps to thrive. This means that as your tenants spend more time outside eating, drinking and enjoying themselves, they’re far more likely to come across these antisocial visitors.

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Why do wasps attack?

Wasps are one of Britain’s most feared and potentially aggressive pests, known for their nasty stings and seemingly unprovoked attacks. Yet in reality, wasps will usually only attack a person if they feel threatened.

The problem is a social wasp in distress emits a pheromone that sends nearby colony members into a defensive, stinging frenzy. Which means that if your tenants attack one, the whole garden could soon be swarming with vengeful wasps.

Towards the end of summer, the queen abandons her nest and the thousands of workers are left with nothing to do other than to try not to starve to death.

These wasps then desperately search out fermented fruit and sugars. Imagine your most light-weight friend drinking a quarter of their body-weight in alcohol. Drunken wasps are more aggressive and more likely to sting those getting between them and their booze.

Why can wasps be a problem for landlords?

But everyone gets wasps. There’s no reason to worry about it too much, right? Wrong. If tenants experience a high level of wasp activity, then complaints are likely to ensue.

This alone is less than ideal, but if you or a tenant gets a sting, or worse still, receives multiple stings, then the presence of wasps becomes detrimental to public health.

This particularly applies to children, elderly people, those with allergies and pets, who can be particularly sensitive to wasp stings.

The matter becomes serious if a sting sends someone into anaphylaxis; a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Even if someone has been stung by a wasp before and not had a severe reaction, it doesn’t mean that they cannot have a bad reaction if stung again.