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ENVIRONMENT

Why 2022 is the ‘year of the wasp’ in France

After a mild winter and spring, pest control specialists in France have been receiving more requests to eradicate wasp nests, dubbing 2022 the "year of the wasp".

Why 2022 is the 'year of the wasp' in France
A paper wasp builds a a nest in France (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

If you feel like you’ve been swatting away more pesky insects lately – especially wasps – then you might be onto something. 

After a mild winder and even milder spring, there are more wasps than usual buzzing around France. As a result, pest control companies are citing a higher volume of requests to destroy the nests. They are calling 2022 the “year of the wasp”.

Some bug exterminators are citing double the number of requests between this year and last year: “This year, we are doing between 10 to 12 interventions a day. Last year, we were at five,” Sebastien Pommereul, the manager of the company Stop wasps – Stop pests told BFMTV.

Pommereul presumes that the larger than average normal number of wasps is due to a lack of below freezing cold snaps this past winter. 

The warmer weather over winter in France meant fewer wasp colonies were lost to the cold and so meant faster reproduction rates. 

As a result, French restaurants are getting creative.

One restaurant owner in France told BFMTV she puts bottles of syrup in the plant pots along her terrace to encourage the insects to buzz over there, in an attempt to keep them from bothering her clients.

However, it is worth nothing that though wasps can be pain, they do play an essential role in the ecosystem.

That being said, if you find yourself with a wasp nest by your house that needs getting rid of, here are some important French terms to know:

Wasp – Guêpe

Bee – Abeille

Hornet – Frelon

Wasp Spray – Aeresol pour guêpes

Exterminator – Exterminateur

Sting – Piqûre

Buzzing – Bourdonnement

Nest – Nid

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FOOD & DRINK

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

Warming sea temperatures are bringing more spider crabs to France's coastline, which could spell disaster for the French mussel industry.

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

You may not be able to see it from land, but underwater, an invasive species of spider crabs are ravaging the mussel population on the Western coast of France.

In Normandy and Brittany, mussel farmers are struggling to control the expanding spider crab population – which normally migrates onward, but has stayed put on France’s coasts.

Experts believe the crabs, who feast on mussels and all manner of shellfish, have not continued in their migration due to warming water temperatures, as a result of the climate crisis.

This has left French mussel farmers worried that if the crab population is not controlled, then mussel production could end in the region within a decade. 

Some mussel farmers, like David Dubosco, have lost a significant amount of mussels in just the last year. Dubosco told TF1 that in 2022 he lost at least 150 tonnes.

(You can listen to The Local France team discuss the future of moules-frites in our new podcast episode below. Just press play or download it here for later.)

Dubosco is not alone in his experience. According to reporting by TF1, production across the board will be lower this year 2022, which means that the number of mussels imported from other countries will likely increase, a decision that will not be popular with French consumers who prefer homegrown mussels to make the classic moules-frites.

The proliferation of the spider crabs has been an ongoing problem for the last six years, but due to warming waters, more and more have stayed in French waters.

The crabs do not have many predators besides humans – as they are edible, but the supply has begun to outweigh demand. Additionally, the crabs have grown so big that traditional cages used to trap them are no longer effective, according to Actu France.

On September 21st, over 80 mussel producers staged a demonstration in front of the Manche préfecture in Saint-Lô to demand further measures against this invasive species.

“We have seen the proliferation of spider crabs and our alerts have gone unheeded by the administrative authorities. The species comes to feed on our stocks,” said Vincent Godefroy, head of the “Group of mussel farmers on bouchot” (Groupement des mytiliculteurs sur bouchot) to Actu France. 

In response, the Manche prefecture met with six representatives from the group, eventually publishing a a statement saying it would allow “for the experimentation of new measures” to combat the crabs, which would include dragging them out to sea.

Additionally, government actors and mussel farmers will work together this autumn to conduct a study on the economic value of spider crabs with goals of building up a new industry. The assessment will be made in November.

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