The skies around Kamloops are buzzing louder than usual as a proliferation of wasps prompts an increase demand for traps while people take extra care to avoid being stung.
Anecdotally, the yellowjackets, hornets and paper wasps became a nuisance in late July. Tom Goode, manager of The Horse Barn, took notice when wasp traps started disappearing from his shelves.
"It's been one of the busier years for them," said Goode.
At first, he sold about 10 of the $7 traps a day. By mid to late August, they were selling at a rate of 60 a day, said Goode.
"I've heard the word out there from everyone. They are looking everywhere for traps," he said.
If The Horse Barn is busy, then the demand is there, he said. It's also likely that other stores have sold out or aren't carrying the traps anymore.
Goode said there's no rhyme or reason to why wasps are more of a problem one year than the next. He said he believes the pattern is cyclical and has to do with the weather.
Rob Higgins, assistant professor of biology at Thompson Rivers University, said Goode isn't wrong in his assessment.
He said harsh conditions during the winter can cause a high mortality rate in queens.
"One of the worst things that can happen are high mid-winter temperatures that cause the queens to become active, but at a time when they cannot find food," Higgins said in an email.
A low snowpack that allows the ground to freeze deeply can also increase the wasp-queen mortality, he said. That was clearly not the case this winter.
"While I have not looking at the overall weather conditions from this past winter, whatever it was, was good for wasps," said Higgins.
Staff at General Grant's bottle depot on Fortune Drive can attest to the good - or as they see it bad - wasp season. Manager Chris Ivany Smithies said the two-litre pop bottles employees have turned into traps are constantly half full of dead wasps.
"They work rather well," he said. "We have to keep emptying them out."
With leftover pop, beer, wine and coolers, the bottles and cans are a natural attractant for wasps, said Ivany Smithies. As long as staff don't swat at them or try to grab them, the wasps leave them alone.
That being said, a few employees have been stung this summer, he said.
"They don't like to be held for very long. There's been a lot of times where I've grabbed them but let go fast enough," said Ivany Smithies.
Goode has no idea how long the season will go. He said it all hinges on the weather. The nicer the weather, the more wasps there are.
"You tell me the weather, I'll tell you how long we'll have wasps," said Goode.
Higgins said there are 18 species of wasps, with the yellow-and-black striped yellowjackets the most aggressive.