The European Wasp, Vespula germanica, was first recorded on the Australian mainland in 1977, where it soon became well established. In South Australia, the European Wasp distribution appears to be throughout the hills surrounding Adelaide, and Adelaide itself. Despite early reports labelling it as a 'Killer Wasp', no human deaths have been recorded in Australia. The European Wasp is a public nuisance and a horticultural pest. Unlike a bee, that can only sting once, the European Wasp can sting repeatedly.
How do I Identify European Wasps?
Finding the Nest
In order for the nest to be destroyed YOU need to LOCATE the nest. To find the nest you need to establish the direction the wasps are flying. To do this, place a good food source (i.e. meat or pet food) in a visible location. Once the wasp has collected the food, it will fly in a direct line to the nest.
A wasp may be scavenging for food up to 500m from the nest. Keep relocating the food sources in the direction of the nest. You may need to work with your neighbours.
Nests are located where shelter is available. Common locations for nests include retaining walls, tree hollows and wall cavities.
Nests are often underground and will be evident by a stream of wasps entering and leaving a hole in the ground. The nest is made of grey paper mache material. Nests constructed of mud are NOT European Wasps nests.
Discouraging European Wasps
- DO NOT leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around your yard
- AVOID leaving uneaten pet food or dog bones outside
- Make SURE rubbish bins have tight fitting lids
- Keep Compost COVERED at all times
- COVER bird baths and fish ponds with fine mesh or shade cloth
- Keep your swimming pool COVERED when not in use
- Cover EXPOSED FOOD at picnics and barbeques
- DO NOT DRINK out of cans or bottles. USE CLEAR CONTAINERS OR A STRAW
Do not aggravate European Wasps
If a European Wasp is aggravated it may STING. Unlike the common bee, a European Wasp can sting MULTIPLE times. When left undisturbed the European Wasp is NOT AGGRESSIVE to humans or other animals. If nest is disturbed the wasp release a chemical which triggers other wasps to defend the nest. DO NOT DISTURB NESTS - contact the Alexandrina Council or a pest control operator.
Council will destroy European Wasp nests after positively identifying them.
What if you are stung? - First Aid
- APPLY ice/cold pack to sting
- Take oral analgesics if SEVERE pain
Stings to the face or neck or multiple stings may lead to severe swelling and/ or an allergic reaction.
If this occurs and/ or the person has difficulty breathing contact an ambulance, hospital or doctor.
Individuals who are allergic to bee stings may NOT necessarily be allergic to European Wasp stings.
If in doubt seek immediate medical advice. For more information on first aid treatment and wasp stings contact the Poisons Information Centre - 13 11 26.