Flintshire wasp-busters come to aid of pest-hit school

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A PLAGUE of wasps has turned a primary school playground into a no-go area – but Flintshire students are helping fight the invasion.

Pupils at Ysgol Melyd in Meliden, near Prestatyn, are on the warpath to win back their playground – with the help of a group of ladybirds.

Thousands of wasps have been converging on the school to feast on sap secreted by aphids which live on the school’s population of willow trees.

Now, thanks to students from Northop College, they are hoping ladybirds will eat the aphids, thereby reducing the playground’s appeal to wasps.

Headteacher Lowri Evans said: “It is a huge problem for us. We had an abundance of wasps in our playground last year. It is horrendous.”

Mrs Evans said they were forced to seal off two-thirds of the playground including its prized ‘sensory garden’ and ‘story bowl’.

Mrs Evans said: “We are trying to stop the same thing happening again to us.”

After efforts by the local education authority failed to put a stop to the wasp plague, an ‘intelligence unit and research team’ was quickly established to find ways of combatting the problem without the use of harmful pesticides.

Dannielle Jefferson, who heads the school’s gardening club and is heading the mission, said: “Last year most of the playground was closed for two and a half months.

“We consulted with Northop College (the Northop campus of Deeside College – formerly the Welsh College of horticulture) and carried out research on the internet before deciding to go with the ladybird plan.”

Children at the school have been busy building 20 homes for the ladybirds using pampas grass to make them feel at home.

Danielle said: “We released 250 ladybirds native to the area last week and now we will just have to wait and see what happens over the summer.

“As a school we don’t want to use chemicals to tackle the problem.”

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