Belgium continues to suffer a plague of wasps of almost Biblical proportions, with hospitals – as well as Red Cross services at music festivals – reporting twice as many cases of wasp stings as usual for the time of year. Most recently, the Red Cross manning the Pukkelpop festival in Limburg reported 700 cases of wasp stings.
There are a number of reasons for the plague, according to nature conservation organisation Natuurpunt. The spring was extremely mild, which allowed the larvae to be fed up to size quickly and easily. As a result worker wasps have nothing to do but go out to feed their own addiction.
Each time a worker in a nest feeds a larva, it is itself rewarded with something sweet. With no more larvae to feed, workers now have to hunt down their own.
One of the easiest ways is to steal a portion of your Coca-Cola or Aperol spritzer as you enjoy the summer weather on a terrace. And as luck would have it, there are more and more of us doing so. That makes the wasps more daring, the people more agitated, and the wasps in turn more aggressive, Natuurpunt explained.
If you are stung, the experts advise heat, from a hair-dryer or hot water, which neutralises the proteins in the venom. Then cold water or ice for the pain. Sucking out a sting is of no use, as the wasp, unlike the bee, does not leave its sting behind.
These measures are suitable for people who are not allergic. Those who are – about 4% of the population – should seek medical advice immediately, from a doctor or an emergency department.