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Bees and Wasps

European wasp (Vespula germanica):
The European wasp originated in Europe but found its way to America, Asia Minor and parts of Africa. It arrived in Australia in the late 1970's and is now classed as a pest.
If a nest is found, it is the homeowner's or occupier's responsibility to have it eradicated. Due to the aggressive nature of this wasp, this is best done by an experienced licensed pest manager.
 
There are two castes - the workers, and the reproductives (the queen and the males).
A worker is about the same size as the honey bee. It has black arrow striped markings and bands on its stocky and smooth, vivid yellow body. Its antennae are about half the length of its body and it has longitudinally folded wings.

Biology and Habits
 
In colder climates, nests usually last one season, but in warm climates, like Australia, colonies may survive and extend all year round. Grey and papery, the European wasp nest is commonly found in the ground, behind retaining walls, in roof cavities, and in tree stumps. Nests can vary in size from 15 centimetres to 5 metres and may contain thousands of wasps.
European wasps are extremely aggressive, especially in spring and summer. They can sting multiple times until their supply of venom is exhausted. They are attracted to cooking meat, sweet drinks and decaying food. There have been some cases whereby European wasps have entered open drink cans and have stung victims in the mouth and throat, leading to swelling of the throat, causing choking and even death.
 
The sting of the European wasp is very painful and dangerous for allergic people. An ice pack can relieve the pain from a sting, but if there is any sign of allergy, medical attention should be sought immediately.
 
Control
The first step in the control of European wasps is to locate their nest. It is important to note that the wasps can forage for food up to 500m away from the nest. Also, nests are often found high off the ground. Once the nest is located, Austrapest's trained local experts carefully inspect the nest and ascertain the best course of action. Control of the wasps is done in the evening when they are less aggressive and when they are back in the nest. As treatment can be a dangerous process, it is best to contact Austrapest for professional help.
 
Honey bee (Apis spp.):
Honey bees may leave commercial hives and become a problem around homes by nesting in walls or cavities. European wasps are often confused with bees, which are more orange in colour and have much shorter antennae. Unlike the European wasp, the wings of bees do not fold when at rest. Also, bees only sting once.
Honey bees are approximately 12-15 mm in length.
If bees nest in wall and roofs – the hive may have to be destroyed especially if the occupants are allergic. Control methods are similar to the European wasp.
 
Native bees (many species) are smaller than the honey bee and a dark colour. It is not necessary to eradicate a native bee nest as all the native bees in NSW do not sting.
 
Paper wasps (Polistes humilis)
This native wasp is usually brown or orange in colour, approximately 22mm in length, with shorter antennae than the European wasp. They make a small nest about the size of a tennis ball to 30cm in length and will sting if disturbed. Care should be taken as some people are very allergic to wasp stings.
 
Chinese wasp (Polistes chinensis)
These wasps seem to be coming more evident in Sydney. Their nests are similar to the paper wasps nest. However, they can be more aggressive when disturbed, and their stings are painful and dangerous to people who are allergic.


European and paper wasp nests. C/- Austrapest

Chinese wasps nest

The European Wasp. C/- Local Government Association of South Australia

The Honey Bee. C/- Local Government Association of South Australia

The Paper Wasp. C/- Local Government Association of South Australia

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