Sand wasps headache for daycare

Pesky sand wasps are ruining summer for a south Ottawa daycare operator.

“I bring a fly swatter to the park, just to be safe,” said Patsy Sauve, who looks after five children.

“I can’t really take the chance.”

Sauve lives in the Hunt Club Park area and has tried taking the kids to different parks, including Lorry Greenberg.

“They’re even as far as there,” she said. “They’re everywhere.”

Sauve contacted the city June 11 to complain, then again earlier this month.

She said she was told city crews were waiting for rain and in the meantime, planned to bring water trucks to flood the sand.

Ottawa is seeing a spike in reports of sand wasps, city spokesman Barre Campbell confirmed by e-mail.

“As a way to prevent sand wasps, staff have been roto-tilling sand areas more often and are wetting down problem areas to discourage their activity,” wrote Campbell.

At wading pool facilities, city staff haven’t seen an increase, and “staff regularly remove items like candy and pop tins that tend to attract wasps,” said Campbell.

The insects, also known as digger wasps, are common during the summer.

They have also been spotted at Mooney’s Bay beach, and are a recurring problem in Montreal and other parts of Quebec.

Last summer, play structures in 21 Gatineau parks were closed for four days because of an infestation.

Sand wasps are “timid and generally not dangerous for humans that come into contact with them,” according to information posted on the Town of Kirkland website.

“Female sand wasps may sting if provoked or if feeling trapped, however.”

Furthermore, the digger wasps aren’t social and “do not build nests, but lay their eggs directly in the sand or in dry, sandy soil.”

Municipalities in Quebec are tackling the wasp population by regularly raking and sifting sand lots, and are reluctant to eliminate them altogether because the bugs eat ants, spiders, flies, crickets, and other insects, and help pollinate flowers.

Still, Sauve wants the wasp problem resolved.

“We pay high property taxes. We should be able to enjoy our space,” she said.

There can be as many as 50 children at the park during the day, and Sauve is concerned about allergies.

“It’s my job to take the kids outside. The kids, they can’t really have as much fun as before.”

— With files from Marlo Cameron


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