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.