Types of Wasps
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.
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.
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.
Parasytic wasps are native to Australia, and are generally harmless to all vertebrate animals including humans. They are solitary wasps, and the pest controllers of the natural world. They feed on and parasitise insect prey to lay their eggs. We do not recommend treating for parasytic wasps.
Bees are often confused with European wasps. Unlike the European wasp, which are more orange in colour and have much shorter antennae, the wings of bees do not fold when at rest. Also, bees only sting once. Honey bees are approximately 12-15 mm in length. Bees are highly beneficial to the natural environment and only pose a problem when a nest is established in an undesirable location, for example in our roof or wall cavities.
European Honey Bee
How to get rid of wasps or bees
- To avoid unwanted attention outdoors, close lids of sauce and cover food. Wasps are often attracted to cooked meat and sweet smells.
Keep lids on garbage bins and keep garbage areas tidy.
- When encountering a wasp or bee, avoid swatting, and keep your distance. If indoors, open doors and windows to encourage them to head outside on their own. Avoid spraying or attempting to kill them.
- Wasps and bees will often build their nests in roof spaces, under eaves, awnings and gutters, and under verandahs and decks. If you encounter a nest, avoid the area and call a pest specialist, such as Austrapest, to safely remove the nest. We will often do this late in the day or at night when they are calmer and less likely to sting.
How to treat a wasp sting or bee sting
- Wasp stings and bee stings can be very painful and dangerous for people with allergies. If there is any sign of allergy, medical attention should be sought immediately.
- There have been some cases where 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.
Biology and Habits
In colder climates, European wasp 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.