The summer is a great time to sit outside with a nice cold drink. And it turns out that’s not just the case for humans. reports wasps also tend to imbibe in late summer—and they get drunk, too.
in the U.K. puts it in a more dramatic way, with a headline reading, “Britain is under attack from 'drunk and irritable' wasps who are going on 'stinging rampages' after drinking cider in pub gardens because they have run out of food.” Apparently, wasp season started earlier than usual in the U.K. thanks to a cold winter, which means wasps have been annoying beer gardens all summer long.
According to the , which alerted the Daily Mail to the drunk-wasp news, the bugs in question are worker wasps, which cannot procreate and only exist to help feed the queen wasps and larvae. During most of the season, once they gather food, which comes from “soft-bodied invertebrates,” they chew it up to feed it to the larvae, which in turn produce a sugary fluid the adult wasps can drink. Adult wasps can’t digest the food they feed the larvae because of their small waists, so the need this fluid to survive.
But around late summer, the queen stops producing larvae, and that means wasps no longer have access to as much sugary fluid. They have to go foraging for sweet goodness on their own—and usually get it from rotting, fermented fruit or leftover booze. Consuming even a tiny drop of alcohol can make the wasps drunk, irritable, and prone to causing trouble among humans.
Luckily, wasps' drunk and belligerent behavior doesn’t last long—once the weather gets cold, the entire colony will die and the queens will hibernate until the drama starts all over again. Until then, experts advise you make sure to dispose of your waste properly, and keep it away from where kids might play outside.