European wasps

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The City of Swan works in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to prevent the establishment of European wasps in WA. WA has been battling European wasp since 1977 and remains the only place in the world to successfully keep this pest from establishing for so long. Over 700 nests have been destroyed in this time which is about 40 per year.

Why are European wasps a problem and where do they come from?

European wasps are aggressive and more attracted to human activities than other wasps. Their sting is very painful and may be life threatening. One of the main concerns is that European wasps are attracted to meat products and may invade barbeques or other sources of outdoor food such as pet bowls. They also creep inside soft drink cans which can then pose a danger if swallowed as the person may be stung in the mouth or throat. European wasps are well established in the eastern states. Interstate freight is the main source into WA and nests are often detected in industrial areas as a result.

What is being done?

Both DPIRD and the City set surveillance traps in various locations within the district. Traps, which are set using fish as a lure, will remain out until the end of May. Where a European wasp is found it is tracked back to its nest which is then destroyed by DPIRD. Whilst not common, nests have been found within the City of Swan in the past.

What can residents do?

Residents who believe they have seen European wasps can report it directly to DPIRD either by telephoning their Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080 or email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.  Alternatively the matter can be reported to the City on 9267 9267 or via submitting our investigation request form.  If European wasps are confirmed the matter can be referred to the Department for further action.  Quite often Paper wasps are mistaken for European wasps and it is important that they are correctly identified.

Identifying European wasps

Characteristics of European wasps generally include:

  • Bright lemon-yellow and black markings
  • Totally black antennae (feelers) on their head
  • Solid build (not elongate or slender), similar to a normal honeybee but slightly larger
  • Fast flying with legs held close to their bodies; rear legs definitely not trailing or hanging down in flight
  • Generally do not hover during flight
  • Nest usually concealed either underground, in a wall or roof cavity or in a hollow tree
  • Are attracted to raw meat, such as sausages, steak and fish at barbecues, or pet food For a comparison between European and Paper wasps please refer to the Department's Wasp Identification Guide(PDF, 1MB).

Where a wasp is suspected of being a European wasp

Where European wasps are confirmed the wasp will be traced back to the nest. The nest will then be destroyed by DPIRD free of charge.

Where a wasp is not suspected of being a European wasp

It will be up to the resident to arrange for the wasp nest's destruction. Either a pest control company can be used or you can do it yourself. Insecticides are available from most hardware stores or supermarkets and directions on the label should be followed. Action should be taken after sunset as this is when wasps are less active. Suitable personal protection should be used to avoid being stung. If a person suffers an allergic reaction following a sting, they should seek immediate medical assistance. If the wasp nest is found to be on Council land then the City will arrange for the nest to be destroyed.

For more information on European wasps you can visit the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.