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Greek holiday wasps warning

- by Andy Cornish

Soccer loving holidaymakers in Crete were warned to stay away from a local soccer league game on the island's beach strip of Platanias after the local club admitted the stadium was under siege by wasps.

Fans of Platanias Football Club, near Chania in western Crete, were also told to stay clear of the ground despite the team players turning out for a friendly match with league rivals Irodotus.

Officials in charge of the stadium issued the warning over fears that spectators could be stung by wasps. They also refused to charge an admission fee for the match after admitting that the soccer stands were riddled with wasp nets.

Only a handful of brave spectators turned up to watch the game and none reported any wasp stings but the race is now on to clear the soccer stadium of wasp nests before the next game.

A statement from Platanias team officials said: "Platanias FC in Chania, sadly advises the team fans not to attend the match due to issues concerning their safety, given that it was revealed today during a check of the Municipal Stadium that there are several wasp nests, which make it dangerous to attend the match."

Holiday visitors to the Greek Islands will know that wasps can be a real nuisance at this time of year. Holiday beaches especially close to woodland can be a problem in August as young wasps emerge from their nests.

The number of wasps on holiday beaches depends very much on the spring weather in the Greek Islands. Wet springs can result in wasp nests being damaged or even washed away in heavy rains. But a warm spring like 2014 means many nests survive, with wasps emerging in some numbers in July and August.

The wasps in Greece can be very active during the fruit harvesting and winemaking season in August and September when they gorge themselves on the ripe fruit. The insects are often attracted to beach tavernas drawn by the smell of food, particularly the aroma of fresh fruit and sugary drinks.

Although not normally aggressive they can sting when provoked. The venom in a wasp sting is alkaline, so a quick treatment to help neutralize the effect is to apply something acidic such as vinegar.

Fortunately this is a handy item for holidaymakers in a taverna where oil and vinegar bottle are usually found on the tables. Lemon juice is another quick acidic remedy that can help relieve the pain of a wasp sting.

A bee sting however is quite the opposite and you should never use vinegar or lemon juice here. The sting is very acidic so something alkaline is needed to neutralize the effects. Handy items for holiday visitors would include toothpaste or bicarbonate of soda.

Wasps and bees are not a particular problem in the popular holiday resort of Platanias on Crete. The beach lies on the north coast of the island just west of the port of Chania and is one of a string of sandy beaches along this part of the Greek Island coast.