European Wasps in Australia
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.
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.
More info than anyone needs on wasps. :-)
Don't Get Stung!
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,
- 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.
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!
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
Do you get European wasps in your garden?
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.
Trap them and be wasp free.
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..
So you don't like wasps? This might help.
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. :-)
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?