Swarms of wasps could be set to invade Britain this summer, experts are warning.
The cold winter followed by a mild spring mean conditions are perfect for the nuisance insects.
And with more warm weather forecast for the coming months, an increase in the size and number of nests is predicted.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says problems with wasps increased by 87 per cent compared to an unusually quiet 2013.
The leader of independent pest controllers register Basis Prompt Rob Simpson is expecting a similar surge in complaints this time around.
He said: “The annual wasp population in the UK is very much dependent on weather conditions.
“The number of nests seemed to be down significantly in 2013, but there was a substantial increase last year when numbers returned to something like normal.
“Colder winters often mean there are more wasps about the following summer as mated queens spend the period deep in hibernation.
“If it’s milder in December and January, wasps become restless and use up their food reserves. They then have nothing left to forage on, so they die.
“In a typical British summer, wasps will not appear in huge numbers or become a big issue until August or September.”
But they begin building new nests in spring and Mr Simpson says it is best to have them treated as early as possible, when the colony is smaller and the wasps less aggressive.
He said: “With warm weather expected and nests growing in size as the season progresses, we expect the number of wasp-related inquiries to rise substantially.
“So if people do find a nest in their garden or around the house, however small at the moment, it shouldn’t be ignored.”
Mr Simpson says homeowners should not be tempted to tackle issues themselves.
He said: “Treating a wasps nest can be very dangerous as they feel threatened and are likely to become aggressive if their nest is tampered with. A mature nest can contain thousands of wasps, so it’s really not worth the risk.
“You don’t need to remove a nest, but you do need to have it treated as early as possible and it’s definitely a job that should be left to experts.”
Homeowners are being urged to find a company registered with Basis Prompt – an industry initiative designed to promote standards in pest control.