(image courtesy of European Wasp Control Program -
a co-ordinated approach by state and local government)
- This article is written for South Australia
Contact your Local Council for information. A range of information is available including carry bags, brochures, fridge magnets and car bumper stickers etc. Or why not visit their website on www.europeanwasp.lga.sa.gov.au
Must be a European wasps nest to warrant calling the Council
Single sightings are not sufficient, the caller must have located the nest (even if only approximately)
Only by destroying the nests can we control the spread of European Wasps. Simply catching individual wasps will not destroy the nest, but will result in queens being developed which will start new nests elsewhere. As such the community is the first line of defence against European wasps.
COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED
What are the distinguishing features of a European Wasp?
Bright yellow legs and body; black triangular markings on its abdomen
How is it different from a Bee or a native wasp?
European Wasp are larger and less hairy. Bees are usually black or brown.
Where are you likely to find a European Wasps nest?
Anywhere where shelter is available such as wall cavities, holes in the ground, trees. The small half tennis ball shaped nests suspended under eaves are not European Wasp but native wasps.
A European Wasp nest is often evident by a stream of wasps entering and leaving a hole (European Wasp's do not hover but fly directly and swiftly backwards and forwards to the nest.)
What does a European Wasps nest look like and how is it different from that of native wasps?
It is ball shaped and made from grey papier mache like material. The small half tennis ball shaped nests commonly found hanging from leaves etc. are not European Wasp nests but those of native wasps.
Check colour of wasps to confirm that they are not bright yellow in colour etc.
How can we find the nest?
To find the nest you need to establish the direction the wasps are flying in. Place a food source in a visible location, and once the wasp has collected the food it will fly in a direct line to the nest. A wasp may be scavenging up to 500m from the nest.
What should you do if you find a European Wasps nest?
Do not disturb the nest.
If the nest is disturbed the wasps release a chemical which
triggers the other wasps to defend the nest. Unlike bees, European Wasps can sting multiple times . If left alone the European Wasp is not aggressive to humans or animals.
Contact your Local Council and explain that you have found the nest and they will arrange for the nest to be destroyed (some Councils may charge for false alarms etc.)
Do not put a hose down the nest or attempt to dig it up. Keep family and animals away from the nest.
What sort of things are European Wasps attracted to?
European Wasps are attracted to sweet foods and meat. That is why they are commonly a nuisance at outdoor eating venues and barbeques. They do not collect pollen from trees and flowers, unlike bees.
What can we do to discourage them from our property?
To discourage wasps from your property :
- Do not leave food scraps or fallen fruits lying around
- Avoid leaving uneaten petfood or dog bones outside
- Feed pets indoors or in a environment not accessible to EW's where possible.
- Make sure rubbish bins have tight fitting lids
- Keep compost covered at all times
- Cover water sources such as fish ponds and swimming pools where possible, as European Wasps can be attracted by water.
What else can we do when outdoors to protect ourselves?
Drink only from clear containers or use a straw. Never drink from cans or bottles. A wasp may land on and enter the can or bottle and you may swallow it. This may result in a sting to the throat which is a highly sensitive area.
Are European wasps aggressive?
European Wasps are not usually aggressive if you do not aggravate them.
What should you do if you are stung by a European Wasp?
Wasps can sting repeatedly and their sting results in a fiery pain and red swelling. Apply an icepack to the effected area. Stings to the face and neck or multiple stings may lead to severe swelling and or an allergic reaction. If this occurs and the person has difficulty
breathing contact an ambulance, hospital, or doctor immediately.
What is being done about controlling European Wasps in SA?
The State and Local Governments are presently working together in a joint initiative to control the spread of European Wasps.
Research is currently underway into developing a form of control to stop the spread of European Wasps. This includes looking at things like biological controls (similar to the calici virus used to destroy rabbits) and also chemical baits that can use wasps to take bait back to the nest and kill the nest.
The main method of controlling the wasps is however by the community being vigilant and reporting nests, which are then destroyed, thereby reducing the number of queens available to propagate new nests.