The European wasp (Vespula germanica) is one of the most invasive insect pests globally, with major incursions in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, the USA and Canada. Because this social wasp species thrives in suburbia as well as wilderness areas, it has a profound impact on humans as well as the environment.
European wasps are bright yellow and black, with bright yellow legs. They are predominantly black on their front with bright yellow markings, and bright yellow on their back with black stripes, and black dots between the stripes down each side of the abdomen, sometimes joining the stripes.
Wasp nests are established by single queens in spring, and by mid-autumn successful nests are busy rearing the new generation with a potential output of over 7,000 new queens per nest.
European wasp nests occur primarily in the ground and are easily sighted due to the constant wasp activity above the nest, although the entrance hole may be well hidden amongst vegetation. Wasps also build nests in the cavity of walls and roof spaces of buildings and will excavate the plaster board to extend the space for their nest. Nests in buildings can also be identified by a constant stream of wasps going to and from a particular location.
European wasps are attracted to sweet drinks, food, insects and pet food, and will also forage on road kill. Residents are advised to feed their pets indoors if wasps are present. European wasps can be very aggressive if disturbed.
The ACT Government treats European wasp nests on Government land. If a wasp nest is on your property, it is your responsibility to have it removed by a qualified pest control operator. People should not attempt to treat the nest themselves as they risk being stung.
The ACT Government also contracts Core Enviro Solutions to provide the European wasp advice and insect identification service. This is a free service to all members of the public and provides advice on European wasps including:
- assistance in identification of wasps
- first aid for wasp stings
- reporting of wasp nests on public land.
If you require any advice on European wasps or would like to report a wasp nest on government land, contact CoreEnviro Solutions' free European wasp hotline via their website or 6258 5551.