Merton exterminators feel the sting of falling wasp numbers


Exterminators are suffering business losses due to declining wasp numbers in Merton borough.


By Mark Sands, Umrish Pandya, Moe Khazma & Ray Murphy

Exterminators are suffering business losses due to declining wasp numbers in Merton borough.

Pest controllers have seen a dramatic fall in call outs to tackle wasp infestations – which represent 23% of the industry’s trade.

Wasp infestations normally provide lucrative business but pest controllers have had to fall back on other areas of their business to make up for their losses.

Dave Mason, owner of Mason Pest Control, said: “This is probably the worst year we have had in 20 to 30 years.”

He added: “If you started a company relying on wasps you would be wiped out straightaway.”

Poor weather in April is believed to be behind the decreasing wasp population.

The insects hibernate during winter and emerge from their nests in the later summer months.

April saw temperatures averaging 9C in London, rarely rising above single figures, and a late frost also killed off large numbers of breeding queen wasps.

What’s more, wasps struggle to fly in temperatures below 10C so few have emerged from hibernation on time.

Pest controllers are not confident that the low numbers will be consigned to just 2012.

“It might take a couple of years for things to get back to normal,” said Mr Mason.

Patrick Stone, owner of Pest Control Surrey, said: “It can be quite lucrative but this year, I won’t even cover my advertising costs.”

Rising populations of urban foxes, mice and rats are mitigating some of the damage, but the controversial Hunting Act of 2004 barred the gassing of foxes and has seen some exterminators exit the business. 

Foxes can only be shot or re-released in other areas with the permission of landowners, and with many exterminators not in possession of gun licences, some have decided against offering fox control.

“Re-releasing is just not something we agree with,” Mr Mason said.

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