ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

European Wasps in Australia

Updated on August 29, 2017

European Wasps Are Invading My Garden!

Over the past few years, there seem to have been more and more European wasps in my garden. I'd like to tell you a little about how these creatures came to be in Australia, and give a little information on how to get rid of them.

The European wasps are competing with our native wasps and killing some of our insects, so we definitely would like to see the end of them. They can also be aggressive when threatened, and can be dangerous.

There is also some information on what to do if you are stung by one of these insects. Stings can be extremely painful, and multiple stings can even kill.

European Wasp by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.
European Wasp by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. | Source
European wasp.
European wasp. | Source

Discovering The Pests In The Garden

For some years, there have been the occasional few wasps in my garden, and even in my house, mostly in Spring. I've even had to kill a queen wasp, who looked as if she was going to set up house near my chimney stack - not something I was really enamoured of, that's for sure! I really hate these things, and although I don't like killing anything, these wasps get absolutely no mercy from me. After all, they aren't even native.

This weekend, my partner pointed out that the bottlebrush (Callistemon) tree in the front garden was absolutely full of them, which made working nearby a little uncomfortable. There was no nest in the tree, nor is the plant in flower, so all we can think of is that they were collecting pieces of bark for their nest, and found this type of tree to be very suitable. This morning, I discovered that the bottlebrush in the back garden is also infested with them.

The worst thing is, I can't do anything about it, as the nest is not on my property, and I haven't been able to see where it is. Hopefully, someone will discover it, and have the council destroy it.

The Social Biology of Wasps
The Social Biology of Wasps

More info than anyone needs on wasps. :-)


Don't Get Stung!

Wasp on flowers.
Wasp on flowers. | Source

European Wasps Can Be Dangerous - What to do if you are stung:

European wasps (Vespula gemanica) can be very dangerous. If the nest is attacted, or accidentally damaged, the insects will swarm and attact the offending animal or person. The best way to escape this attack is getting inside or getting underwater. It is not unknown for death to result from multiple stings.

Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, can be caused by a sting from a European wasp; this can be fatal if treatment is not sought immediately. It can be much more severe in people and animals who have previously been stung by this insect, and are therefore more sensitive.


  • Skin burning or tingling,
  • Hives,
  • Nausea,
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Cramps,
  • Breathing difficulties.

Breathing problems means less oxygen getting to the brain, and the person may become irrational. They may also experience panic attacks. Blood pressure may also be affected, possibly causing unconsciousness.


If, after being stung by a European wasp, or any other insect, the victim suffers from anaphylaxis (shock), it is important to get them to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

Basic first aid for someone stung by a wasp or bee is to wash the area and apply an ice pack. An antihistamine may be taken if necessary.

Wasp Facts & Information
Wasp Facts & Information

Everything you've ever wanted to know about wasps


These Wasps Shouldn't Be Here!

I don't like European and English wasps - they are almost the same, and as far as Australia is concerned, they are pests, which should never have come here. It's not really certain how they were introduced, but now we can't get rid of them.

You can read about them, and how to get rid of them at the MuseumVictoria wasp site.

These creatures can give a really nasty sting, so if you're allergic to ant and bee stings, stay well away from them. Unlike bees, they don't lose their sting after using it, so they can get you multiple times!

Wasp Nest.
Wasp Nest. | Source

Wasp Nests

European wasps build their nests from wood pulp. They gather it, chew it, and then use it build the nest as in the photo. They can also build underground, often in sloping ground. Wasps have also built in attics, meter boxes, and many other inconvenient (for humans) places.

Recently, I was on my front doorstep, when I noticed a Queen European wasp beginning to build her nest above the door. This was just not going to happen - the last thing I wanted above my front door was a European wasp nest. The insect spray was located, and the wasp was terminated. I don't like to kill, but these insects are feral.

The image is a wasp's nest, similar to those built by the European type.. Photo Credit

Wasp Poll

Do you get European wasps in your garden?

See results
Wasp eating apply, by fir0002 |
Wasp eating apply, by fir0002 | | Source

Wasp Free Summer? Perhaps Never Again

Some years, we don't see many European wasps at all, and we hope that perhaps they are dying out, but it hasn't happened yet. There are sometimes a few queen wasps looking for homes, in fact one of them came into the house, but didn't survive the visit.

Sometimes the wasp trap stays up for a few weeks, but doesn't seem to do much catching, and what we get are blowflies. Not that I mind those being trapped and killed, but it seems strange that they are attracted to wasp bait

Last year the only time I saw European wasps was in the last month of summer.. Mostly they seemed to come for water, since I keep bowls in the back yard for the local birds. Wasps are also fond of fruit and meat, so we have to be careful around the scraps we put out for the wildlife.

Bottlebrush Tree

Bolttlebrush or Callistemon.   Image by Snakesmum
Bolttlebrush or Callistemon. Image by Snakesmum

Wasps Love Callistemon (Bottlebrush Trees)

Above is a photo of the tree which the wasps seem to love. We think they collect the bark for their nests, as it is in Autumn they are most active in this bottlebrush, and that is probably when they swarm..

Now We're Trying A Wasp Trap

One weekend, we finally decided to try a wasp trap, because there were all too many of these insects in my garden, and to be honest, I'm scared of them. They sting! They also have bad tempers, and will chase you.

Anyway, we bought a wasp trap, and my partner put the packet of powder in some water, and hung the trap in a tree. It would take 24 hours for the powder to dissolve and become active.

Several days later, nothing had happened, so I took the packet of powder out of the trap to see what was happening. No wonder it didn't work - the packet wasn't soluble, and it hadn't been taken out of there! All that needed to be done was to empty the powder into the water.

Two hours later, we had our first wasp, dead in the trap! Guess that means one should read the instructions a little more carefully. :-)

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Wasp Trap Powder

On visiting the hardware store last week to get some wasp powder for the trap, we had an interesting discussion with the man working in the gardening area.

We had mentioned that our wasp trap seemed to be attracting more blowflies than wasps in the past summer and were wondering if they had another brand in stock. He said they didn't, and gave us a tip on how to make the trap more attractive to wasps.

His suggestion was to add a small portion of meat or cat food to the mix, as wasps are meat eaters, and would be more likely to come to such a food. He added "Don't leave it more than a few days, as it smells pretty bad then!"

We will definitely be using this tip this summer and will let you know how it works.

If you are wondering whether or not to add sugar or honey instead of meat to the trap, please don't, as this will only trap honey bees, and they are harmless creatures if left alone.

They Seem To Be Multiplyng!

One day, it was a warm day, with very little wind, and there were hordes of those horrible insects in my bottlebrush trees! It make working out there a bit unpleasant, because European wasps have a reputation for being vicious if annoyed, and will attack en masse on occasions.

Too bad my fishpond isn't big enough to jump in, if this happens, as apparently going under water is a great way to escape them. They can fly faster than I can run! Hopefully they will never feel like attacking me. Perhaps I'd better invest in a wasp trap, but that will only get a few, and there's a whole nest of them nearby somewhere.

Anyone got any suggestions?

Your Waspy Comments - Anything to say about wasps?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Tasha North profile image

      Tasha North 4 years ago

      Great lens, it is always good to know, i didn't know a lot of this

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      We need bees, but wasps? I remember many a Summer picnic with fried chicken or some other aromatic cooked meat. We'd be eating, enjoying ourselves and suddenly be invaded by a tornado of wasps. Boy do they hurt when they sting!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 4 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Any type of bee can really be a nuisance if there are too many. I put a fountain garden in my side yard only to have it invaded by bees, (guess they were thirsty).

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I absolutely am terrified of wasps after having a bad reaction to a sting a couple years ago. We managed to knock one wasp nest out last year but the few survivors flew off to insure the colony survived. I the winter my husband managed to knock off two dormant wasp nests so I am hoping that this year will be wasp free. Wasps can get so very aggressive as the summer progresses and their nests become over crowded. I hate the little buggers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Local control is now the only option as they are pretty well established in Australia. They have been in North America for over a century from Europe, but it doesn't seem to be a problem there as there are over a dozen other breeds of yellow Vespid wasps there, most of which are actually native there. The European wasps supposedly came over to Tasmania back in the 1940s when a barge containing freight of airplane parts during the month of November from Europe about the time when the wasp season is winding down when newly hatched queen wasps were going into hibernation and there were perhaps hundreds on them on board that barge in between all of those parts, and then instead of hibernating, they started to immediately reemerge to find nesting sites after arriving in Tasmania, as November in the southern hemisphere is like the month of May in the northern hemisphere for which is when they would there.

    • profile image

      Zienna1 4 years ago

      I jdon't like them. They've been hanging around in my grapes vine. So many of them. We decided to put a plastic bottle with a bit of honey inside it and they were all roaming around it. We hanged four bottles in the pergola and it seemed to be working. Thanks for sharing this lens.

    • profile image

      wilsonkht 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the European wasp's information with us. I didn't know how dangerous it was. Great job!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Wasps are not dangerous insects always, rather they are helpful creature for our nature.

    • sheacherie profile image

      sheacherie 4 years ago

      Oh god this looks scary. But well great lens and grateful we don't have much of those here in Mauritius ;)

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @michalk lm: Because of the wasps? We've got a lot worse things than those here, believe me. It's not such a bad place! Thanks for visiting

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 5 years ago

      Wasps were destroying our garden furniture last year to make their nests. The noise they made as they stripped the wood was so loud!

    • michalk lm profile image

      michalk lm 5 years ago

      Glad I don't live in Australia :)

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Carashops: They are always in our bottle brush trees doing the same. Wish they'd go away! Thanks for your visit.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @LadyDuck: I'm not surprised you were scared, they can be pretty vicious, and 3000 angry wasps is frightening! Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 5 years ago

      These dangerous wasps built their nest under the roof in my attic. I had to call pest specialists who came with strong insect spray to get rid of them. There where about 3,000 of them, I was scared!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @anonymous: Think I'd freak out if there was a nest on my fence! Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These little terrors used to build their nests under the capping on the asbestos fences. We would forget and start talking to the neighbor and rest our hand on the fence. WRONG !! They would come out of their nest in a hurry ready to attack. And attack they did. We found the best way to kill them was to wait until nightfall and spray them with strong insect spray. That got them for sure.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @norma-holt: The thought of a nest in my garden terrifies me! Thankyou for your blessing.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Ughhhh. I had a nest of them in my ceiling last year and they actually bored a hole through into the dining room/kitchen. Silly me through they were harmless native bees so I started catching them in bottles and putting them outside. A visitor had about twenty of them around his head when I told him they were harmless native bees, so he started brushing them off. The next day when putting some rubbish into the bin under the sink one bit me on the finger. It swelled up and was excruciatingly painful. The pest control people came and killed them. Not bothered with them since. Great lens and nicely put together. Blessed

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 5 years ago

      We have meat eating wasps in the US and they build underground nests. When you step in one it is bad! We all them yellow jackets.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @inspirationz: Thanks for visiting and glad you found the lens interesting!

    • profile image

      inspirationz 5 years ago

      This is so interesting. I've just spent a while researching bee stings and wasp stings so it's interesting to hear about this other side of their existence.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: This summer, there have been less wasps around, which is great! It is usually water, wood or meat that the wasps are looking for, so we really don't need protective clothing unless trying to kill a nest. None in my garden, thankfully!

      Thanks for visiting and blessing this lens. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Whew, what a difficult situation with this European Wasp infestation, I'm so sorry for you! Have you tried the protective type clothing that bee keepers use to help you be safe while you garden? I love honey bees and bumble bees but wasps have never been my friend.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Bercton1: Thanks for visiting! ;-)

    • Bercton1 profile image

      Bercton1 6 years ago

      Very unique lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @rob-hemphill: Hi Rob. That's interesting - several people have commented on how the numbers are down this year. Wonder why? They shouldn't even be here in Australia though. :-)

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 6 years ago from Ireland

      Very interesting lens. Wasp numbers seem to be down here in Ireland as well this year!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @Virginia Allain: I think nearly all wasps give painful stings! We bought the wasp trap in a large hardwares store. Perhaps one of your retail hardware stores will have them?

      Cheers, Jean

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I'll have to check Amazon for these wasp traps. We don't have the European wasps, but whatever kind we have in the U.S. (paper wasps, mud daubers) give painful stings.

      Blessed by the Insect Angel on Squidoo and featured on Best Insect Web Pages on Squidoo.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hope you manage to get rid of your wasps soon. I don't like them either. Hopefully you can find a non poisonous way of getting rid of them that won't harm your garden or animals and birds. Good luck.