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The rise of our wasp overlords

By 29 April 2013 19

wasp

TAMS are warning us that new European Wasp queens are breeding right now:

“The tell-tale sign of a nest is a steady stream of wasps flying in and out of a hole leading to where the nest is hidden away. Wasp nests are usually located underground or are built into the structure of the house such as cavity walls and roof spaces.

“With autumn well underway, European wasp colonies have begun queen rearing and each nest is capable of producing thousands of new queens. Each queen could potentially go on to produce a new nest next summer, so it is important as many nests as possible are eradicated prior to the new queens leaving to hibernate for the winter.

“As Canberra’s climate is considerably milder than much of Europe, the wasp season is prolonged and more queens are produced. While in Europe a wasp colony produces up to 2,000 queens, in Canberra a colony can produce up to 20,000 queens if a nest survives over winter. This is one reason that makes European wasps such a successful invasive species in Canberra.

“If residents locate a nest on their property they must engage a qualified pest control operator to treat it. Do not attempt to treat the nest yourself as you risk being stung,” Dr Spradbery said.

Dr Spradbery said the recommended first aid for a wasp sting is an ice pack to alleviate pain and swelling. If people are stung in the mouth, experience difficulty in breathing or develop an itchy rash indicating a severe allergic response, they should seek medical help immediately.

Canberrans are also encouraged to report European wasp nests in nature parks and urban open spaces. A single wasp colony can collect up to 100 kg of insect prey in a year, potentially upsetting the balance of nature and causing significant ecological damage. Insects play an important role in pollinating native plants and provide food for birds.

For advice on identification and control of European wasps, please contact the ACT Government’s European Wasp Hotline on 6162 1914.

wasp nest

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19 Responses to The rise of our wasp overlords
#1
hoody8:56 am, 29 Apr 13

We had a large nest in Spence a few years ago in the front yard. Petrol down the main hole, light and hear a muffled undergound explosion. We counted 4 separate holes, one at least 5 metres from the main one. Once the fire was out we poured sand over the nest and all the holes. It was funny watching the scouts coming back for a few days and trying to enter the nest but unable to. They never came back after that.

#2
Terra9:34 am, 29 Apr 13

We went for a walk in Namagie on Saturday, from Orroral Campground to the Tracking Station and back. I was completely amazed at the number of wasps buzzing along the ground underfoot. Keeping an eye out in the suburbs is one thing, but I’m pretty sure some fairly drastic intervention is needed to win back our native bush.
Does anyone have any thoughts/insights on this?

#3
dungfungus9:38 am, 29 Apr 13

hoody said :

We had a large nest in Spence a few years ago in the front yard. Petrol down the main hole, light and hear a muffled undergound explosion. We counted 4 separate holes, one at least 5 metres from the main one. Once the fire was out we poured sand over the nest and all the holes. It was funny watching the scouts coming back for a few days and trying to enter the nest but unable to. They never came back after that.

When your house subsides into a large hole you will know exactly where the nest was located.

#4
Zan9:43 am, 29 Apr 13

Petrol is no good, and dangerous, if they are nesting in a hole in the wall in one’s house, shed, carport/garage.

Best contact the Wasp hotline.

For advice on identification and control of European wasps, please contact the ACT Government’s
European Wasp Hotline on 6162 1914.

#5
bundah9:46 am, 29 Apr 13

Wow up to 20,000 queens? They’re going to become a massive problem in the future,scary!

#6
HiddenDragon11:06 am, 29 Apr 13

The normal flight behaviour of these demonic insects is deceptively docile (although still a bit creepy, when you watch them carefully) but if they are theatened, they go berserk, and can attack en masse – so anyone considering Rambo style heroics in dealing with a nest should think again. It is worth remembering that (unlike) bees, these wasps can sting repeatedly, and far more painfully.

#7
JazzyJess11:15 am, 29 Apr 13

This is timely. Found a nest this morning. Onto the Wasp Patrol now. Thanks Zan

#8
Madam Cholet11:28 am, 29 Apr 13

I know that these are serious little critters that should be gotten rid of, but that nest is quite beautiful.

Having been brought up and lived in he UK for 21 years, I don’t recall them being classified as a pest as obviously the climate there takes care of their numbers, but scary to think that they proliferate here. I do recall being stung once by a wasp though – it did hurt, and actually, now that I think about it I don’t recall much in the way of sympathy as a little four year old doing battle with a wasp! Persistent little bugger that he was.

#9
IrishPete12:40 pm, 29 Apr 13

hoody said :

We had a large nest in Spence a few years ago in the front yard. Petrol down the main hole, light and hear a muffled undergound explosion. We counted 4 separate holes, one at least 5 metres from the main one. Once the fire was out we poured sand over the nest and all the holes. It was funny watching the scouts coming back for a few days and trying to enter the nest but unable to. They never came back after that.

Sounds like a perfect way to start a fire.

IP

#10
IrishPete12:48 pm, 29 Apr 13

Madam Cholet said :

I know that these are serious little critters that should be gotten rid of, but that nest is quite beautiful.

Having been brought up and lived in he UK for 21 years, I don’t recall them being classified as a pest as obviously the climate there takes care of their numbers, but scary to think that they proliferate here. I do recall being stung once by a wasp though – it did hurt, and actually, now that I think about it I don’t recall much in the way of sympathy as a little four year old doing battle with a wasp! Persistent little bugger that he was.

Ditto, though 28 years in the UK, mainly in the country. I guess they’re not classified as a pest there because they’re native (like foxes and rabbits). Never been stung though, despite frequently chasing them around with rolled up magazines.

I would deal with a nest (and have done in the UK) by finding the entry holes and applying large amounts of insect spray down them, while having a good escape route in case it all goes horribly wrong, and retreating to a safe distance once satisfied with my handiwork. (Don’t stand around to watch – dying wasps aren’t happy critters and would probably sting a brick.) Repeat until solved. Sensible clothing too – not regular Ozzie firefighting and motorbike-riding gear of shorts and thongs – and preferably nowhere for a wasp to get trapped in your clothing or footwear.

In some countries the fire brigade will remove them, but here I think you have to pay the professional removal costs yourself, so it may be financially worth trying the amateur route first. If you are prone to allergic reactions, the sting could kill you, so bear that in mind.

IP

#11
Pork Hunt1:38 pm, 29 Apr 13

bundah said :

Wow up to 20,000 queens? They’re going to become a massive problem in the future,scary!

First they will over run the Mardi Gras and then insist on a mass wedding…

#12
hoody2:57 pm, 29 Apr 13

IrishPete said :

hoody said :

We had a large nest in Spence a few years ago in the front yard. Petrol down the main hole, light and hear a muffled undergound explosion. We counted 4 separate holes, one at least 5 metres from the main one. Once the fire was out we poured sand over the nest and all the holes. It was funny watching the scouts coming back for a few days and trying to enter the nest but unable to. They never came back after that.

Sounds like a perfect way to start a fire.

IP

The fire was mostly underground…mostly.

#13
dtc3:29 pm, 29 Apr 13

If its a nest in the ground, cover up all the exits. If feasible, cover with black plastic and then pile dirt and grass clippings and whatever on top. If not feasible with the plastic, just whatever you can cover it up with. Make it a couple of feet deep. This will kill off most of them. Spraying before hand probably also assists.

Petrol and fire, well, thats why they invented the Darwin awards

#14
Anna Key8:52 pm, 29 Apr 13

A few years ago I did discover one use for the eurowasp. After returning from a trip through southern NSW in the locust plague, I found a few of them munching on the splattered remains on the front of the car – cleaned it up quite nicely. Then just hit them with the ol’ Pea Beu

#15
dungfungus8:32 am, 30 Apr 13

Noticing how these wasps have a sweet tooth for the glass of drink at the backyard BBQ and how they scavenge for scraps of dog food and the like, surely there must be a scientist somewhere who could develop a cocktail of enticing liquid laced with a virus that would infect the whole nest after the wasp had gorged himself and returned home?
How about trialling cane toads by anchoring them to the nest entrance?

#16
bundah8:43 am, 30 Apr 13

dungfungus said :

Noticing how these wasps have a sweet tooth for the glass of drink at the backyard BBQ and how they scavenge for scraps of dog food and the like, surely there must be a scientist somewhere who could develop a cocktail of enticing liquid laced with a virus that would infect the whole nest after the wasp had gorged himself and returned home?
How about trialling cane toads by anchoring them to the nest entrance?

One small problem ie. i suspect that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of nests so the wasps will thrive in huge numbers not unlike the toads.

#17
brooooom9:55 am, 30 Apr 13

We were out at Orroral Tracking Station a few weeks back and noticed a large next in the ground out there. Reported it to the Hotline and was referred on to a ranger at Namadge (‘cos it’s in a national park not urban) and they were VERY keen to hear about it and were going to get onto it pronto.A bit surprised given how far out it is, but then they bait at Orroral Camp Gound as well.

Highly recommend reporting them wherever you find them – although I suspect we’ve missed the boat – they’re just everywhere.

#18
dungfungus11:09 am, 30 Apr 13

bundah said :

dungfungus said :

Noticing how these wasps have a sweet tooth for the glass of drink at the backyard BBQ and how they scavenge for scraps of dog food and the like, surely there must be a scientist somewhere who could develop a cocktail of enticing liquid laced with a virus that would infect the whole nest after the wasp had gorged himself and returned home?
How about trialling cane toads by anchoring them to the nest entrance?

One small problem ie. i suspect that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of nests so the wasps will thrive in huge numbers not unlike the toads.

According to this article there are 2 billion cane toads in Australia so I will back the cane toads.
http://travel.cnn.com/sydney/visit/cane-toad-invasion-reaches-south-and-north-communities-fight-back-027094

#19
HiddenDragon11:37 am, 30 Apr 13

dungfungus said :

Noticing how these wasps have a sweet tooth for the glass of drink at the backyard BBQ and how they scavenge for scraps of dog food and the like, surely there must be a scientist somewhere who could develop a cocktail of enticing liquid laced with a virus that would infect the whole nest after the wasp had gorged himself and returned home?
How about trialling cane toads by anchoring them to the nest entrance?

I love that – this is the sort of evil genius we need to counter this growing menace.

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