German wasps on their way to the bar, or in this case, a rotting apple. (Photo: Bernie/Public Domain)

“Drunk” and “angry” are just about the last two words you’d want to associate with a swarm of giant wasps. But if you’re in the United Kingdom, take cover: this summer, German wasps (Vespula Germanica) have been getting drunk and crashing parties. 

Over the last few months higher than average temperatures in the region have brought the wasps out in full force. And these wasps are bigger and angrier than your standard variety. Experts say that German wasps are over twice the size of regular wasps, and pack a noticeably more painful sting. One poor sap, stung on the chest, was convinced that he was having a heart attack. 

Not only that, the wasps are on summer break and looking to make mischief. According to Paul Bates, a manager of a local pest-control company in Essex, England, “these worker wasps have finished their life’s work as queen wasps have finished laying eggs, and don’t need food brought to them. This means that they are free to go out and enjoy themselves.”

As with many a human, summer unemployment for wasps means it’s time to gorge on alcohol—in the form of rotting fruit. Unfortunately, German wasps have quite a low tolerance for booze. And drunk, bored wasps are “likely to sting for no apparent reason,” says Bates.

One outdoor cafe owner in East Sussex summed up the problem: ”This summer has been a great year for wasps but a dreadful one for picnics. It’s a big problem for us because they come after our jam and our marmalade.”

Bates duly cautions any brave wasp killers: “One unfortunate victim told us how her brother had used a stick to smash a wasp’s nest but, since she was eating sherbet, the wasps attacked her.” 

Better to leave the hordes of venomous insects to the trained professionals. 

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