Wasp populations expected to swarm

There’s a lot of buzz circling around insect populations taking over the city’s mounting garbage collection.

With the city staff strike in its third week, Eileen King, owner of Atlanta Pest Control and Wildlife Removal, said creepy crawlies could reap the benefits of extra food.

“Bees and wasps, when they have sources of food readily available, they can build their nests anywhere,” she said. “The garbage strike is very good for them.”

Yet Chris Darling, senior entomology curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, said he believes yellowjackets are a non-issue.

“As far as I know, these piles of garbage are in plastic bags and there’s no way the wasps are going to get in plastic bags,” he said. “They don’t cut through garbage bags, especially if they’re double-bagged, which is what the city has been asking us to do.”

Animal alliances between scavenging seagulls, raccoons and skunks may prove fruitful as it could help hornets penetrate those plastic barriers.

Wasps tend to feed on anything from fermenting fruit to rotting meat, which they carry home to feed larvae. The maturing process of a wasp from egg to larvae to adult takes 18–20 days.

Cockroaches have a similar life cycle from batches of 20-40 eggs, and urban species include both the American and Oriental, said University of Toronto biology professor Darryl Gwynne.

But, the omnivores don’t fair so well in open spaces like mini-dumps.

“These things are very much adapted to or do very well in buildings,” he said, adding an area needs a founding population in order to experience a boom.

That’s not to say roaches won’t be starting their own revolution. With garbage lying close to buildings, especially restaurants, King said she thinks the opportunity is there.

“Where the problems would be is if people have thrown out old grain, older products where the egg caplets already are in them, than that’s where you’re more likely to have problems with the cockroaches breeding,” she said, adding the hotter it gets, the more roaches there will be.

Additional six-leggers may concern some, but the health risks are limited, according to King.

Humans could potentially be allergic to proteins cockroaches leave behind that have been linked to asthma. In addition, hangers-on like microbes could cause problems too.

When it comes to the bees and wasps, it’s only those who are allergic who have to be concerned, King said.

“Sometimes people don’t know they have the allergy and that’s where the difficulty lies.”

Her solution for preventing a full-on assault:

“It’s good to clear (garbage bags) and get them out to the garbage site within a week or two weeks,” she said. “And if it’s high heat, within a week if at all possible.”

For more of the Town Crier’s critter coverage:


About this article:

By: Brian Baker
Posted: Jul 7 2009 1:31 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto