European Wasps are a stout wasp with a bright yellow and black banded abdomen, and a pair of black spots on each yellow band. They have two pairs of clear wings with the first pair larger and the body is about 1.2 cm – 1.5 cm long. They have black antennae and fly with their legs held close to the body.
Habitat and Biology
European Wasps are found in large communal nests, normally only visible as a small entrance hole. They are normally built either underground or in cavities in walls, ceilings, logs or trees. The nests are made from chewed wood fibre. Worker wasps leave the nest in search of food, and are attracted to meats, sweet food, and drink.
Colonies begin in spring with a single fertilised queen, who makes a nest with a single egg in each of a small number of cells. These eggs hatch into grub-like larvae that are tended by the queen for the few weeks it takes them to reach maturity. This first batch of workers takes over nest construction and rearing larvae, and the queen concentrates on egg-laying. The nest continues to be extended throughout summer.
Towards the end of summer, several larger cells are constructed, in which a new generation of queens develop. Males also develop, and mate with the queens outside the nest before they die.
In late autumn the original queen dies, and the new queens disperse to find suitable over-wintering sites before forming a new nest in spring. In Europe, the old nest then disintegrates and the dispersed queens hibernate in sheltered spots beneath loose tree bark or in roofs. A hibernating queen holds on to the substrate with her jaws, and tucks her legs, wings and antennae beneath her, remaining immobile for up to six months. However, it is significant that in the warmer climate of Australia, one of the new queens may stay in the nest and begin laying eggs, without the usual over-wintering period being observed. Over several seasons, this can result in giant nests containing more than 100,000 wasps.
European Wasps are more aggressive than bees and will attack when their nests are disturbed. Unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, and do not die after stinging. The sting causes a burning pain and swelling. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.
In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy. Seven deaths over a twenty-year period attributed to wasp stings have been recorded in Australia, mainly amongst known allergy sufferers who were not carrying their preventative medicine with them.
A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting, alternatively vinegar is effective. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately.
European Wasps have established themselves in Canberra. And unfortunately, are here to stay. Hart Pest Management is committed to assisting in their control at an affordable cost. As with all our work you get a generous warranty period, this is important as sometimes the nests are well imbedded into the structure of your home and several attempts may be required to eradicate them, generally speaking though we get them the first time! We use compressed air (not CO2 as this is environmentally unfriendly) to blow insecticidal dust (it has an extremely low toxicity to human’s dogs, cats etc) right into the nest. The nest is wiped out within a couple of hours, depending on time of day of the treatment as wasps out of the nest at the time of treatment must return and contact the dust for them to die. In this interim period there can be much activity around the nest entrance and it’s very prudent to stay well clear!:
European wasp nest FREE REMOVAL!… In certain circumstances depending on requirements, we may be able to arrange free removal of the nest by Dr.Philip Spradbury who is doing ground breaking research into the control of the pest by biological methods. Only ground nests would be potentially suitable and would be determined by us upon arrival. Hart Pest Management is committed to supporting Dr Spradbury by keeping him supplied with wasp nests in his quest for a long term solution to this dreadful pest.
To contact the brilliant entomologist Dr Phillip Spradbury who previously ran the European Wasp Hotline please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us for referral.
To report a nest on government land please contact Canberra Connect 0n 13 22 81.
If you call this number for help in a private situation you will be referred to a private pest control company contracted to TAMS and you will be charged for their services accordingly.