Dog walker's terror as swarm of wasps attack

Cocker spaniel Barney stung by swarm of wasps on Letchworth Garden City Greenway

Cocker spaniel Barney was smothered by a swarm of wasps on Letchworth's Garden City Greenway - Credit: Pexels / Vicky Burrell

A dog walker has spoken of her terror after a swarm of wasps attacked her and smothered her cocker spaniel.

Vicky Burrell, who lives in Letchworth, was taking a stroll with her dog Barney on the Garden City Greenway on Sunday morning when the horror unfolded. 

She said: "I was walking on the path that links The Grange Recreation Ground with the orchard and had thrown a ball for my dog. He ran, then suddenly stopped and started crying and pawing at his ears. He ran back to me and, as he got closer, I could see he was covered in wasps.

"They were all over his back and in his ears - he was smothered in them. I tried to brush some off and they started attacking me."

Terrified, Vicky ran through the orchard to Cashio Lane. "I have never seen so many wasps - there were at least 100," she said. "Every time I stopped, they hit me. I started hammering on someone's door, shouting 'please help me'."

Vicky eventually escaped the swarm after a stranger and a friend she had managed to call rushed to help.

Barney was taken to the Royal Veterinary College and is making a good recovery.

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Vicky said: "I thought the wasps were going to kill him. It was absolutely terrifying."

Map showing where nests of wasps are on Letchworth Garden City Greenway

There are several wasp nests along the stretch of Garden City Greenway that connects The Grange Recreation Ground with the orchard in Letchworth - Credit: Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

Covered in dozens of wasp stings - mostly on her head, but also on her body, after the wasps got into her clothing - she said: "I feel like I've walked through a field of stinging nettles.

"I want to warn people to stay away from that area. I'm so worried someone with a wasp allergy will get stung - that could be fatal."

Others have reported being stung in the same location over the weekend, including a man who described "raking" wasps out of a runner's hair with his fingers.

A spokesman for Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation said: "Thank you to those who have let us know there are several wasps nests along the Greenway, between Norton Pond and The Grange Recreation Ground, next to Croft Lane Orchard.

"Wasps can be particularly aggressive at this time of the year and may swarm, especially if inquisitive dogs start sniffing around the entrances to the nests.

"Our team is putting signage up around this area. Please take care and keep dogs on a lead, or try a different route along the Greenway for a few weeks, until the wasps are gone."