We’ve all been there, sitting with family and friends, enjoying a nice relaxing afternoon BBQ only to have it interrupted by annoying European Wasps that seem to come out of nowhere. Soon enough more wasps from the colony join in and what was to be a nice enjoyable BBQ, soon turns into pandemonium with everybody running for cover or the nearest can of fly spray.
So how did these foreign invaders become so established in Australia? The first record of European wasps in Australia was in Tasmania in 1959. They were most likely transported in a shipping container or by air freight. It took another twenty years for the wasps to make their way to mainland Australia, arriving in the late 70’s and first appearing in Melbourne. From there, they quickly spread throughout the other states. In South Australia our first nest was found and destroyed in Port Adelaide in 1978, from there they have firmly established themselves throughout the Adelaide Plains and Hills.
Researchers believe that our freighting network greatly aided the European Wasps success in spreading throughout the majority of Australia by hitching rides to new locations.
The European wasps are easily recognisable by their bright yellow legs and black & yellow markings on the abdomen. In regards to size, a European wasp is around the same size as a bee 10-15mm, but unlike the bee it has less visible hair and while at rest will fold back its wings.
Whatever you do, it is strongly recommended that you do not disturb or aggravate the wasps, as they will go on the defensive and may sting. Unlike bee’s, European wasps are capable of stinging multiple times. Try and keep pets away from where you are seeing the wasps and remove any pet food and water as this will attract the wasps. The best thing you can do is place a small piece of meat down and wait for the wasp to pick it up. They will fly in a straight line back to their nest. Wasps can on average forage up to 500m away, which means the problem might be in a neighbouring property.
The next step is to call in the professionals. Some local councils will treat European Wasps. But if your council won’t, contact a licenced pest control company. Give them the location of the nest but never approach the nest yourself. Nests are normally located in the ground or in the roof and look like they’re made of paper mache.
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