Establishing a direct link between climate change and fluctuations in animal populations through long-term monitoring is difficult given the paucity of baseline data. We hypothesized that social wasps are sensitive to climatic variations, and thus studied the impact of ENSO events on social wasp populations in French Guiana. We noted that during the 2000 La Niña year there was a 77.1% decrease in their nest abundance along ca. 5 km of forest edges, and that 70.5% of the species were no longer present. Two simultaneous 13-year surveys (1997–2009) confirmed the decrease in social wasps during La Niña years (2000 and 2006), while an increase occurred during the 2009 El Niño year. A 30-year weather survey showed that these phenomena corresponded to particularly high levels of rainfall, and that temperature, humidity and global solar radiation were correlated with rainfall.