Controlling European Wasps

European wasps have black and yellow stripes, with black spots down their abdomen and yellow legs. They are about 20mm long and slightly larger than a bee. Wasps are usually thinner than bees and have longer wings and long black antennae.

European wasps like sweet foods and meat. This is why they appear at barbeques. Unlike bees they do not collect pollen from trees and flowers.
European wasp nests have thousands of wasps. They can each sting a victim many times.

If you can see many wasps flying around your property, there is probably a nest somewhere. They usually fly within 50 to 200 metres from their nest. They are usually in the ground and more common in summer.

First Aid

The sting from a European wasp is more painful than a sting from a bee. It causes a red swelling. If you are stung, move away from the area as soon as possible to avoid further wasp attacks. Apply an ice pack to the sting.Stings to the face and neck or many stings may lead to severe swelling and or an allergic reaction. If you have difficulty breathing call an ambulance, hospital or doctor immediately.
Check if the reaction to the sting is not worse than normal. A normal sting site is swollen for a few hours, then itchy.
Anti-histamine cream may help the pain, itching and swelling.

Preventing stings

  • Drink from a glass when outdoors. If you must drink from a can, use a straw. If a person is stung in the throat it will cause swelling and possible choking
  • When eating food outdoors, you should check each mouthful of food before eating it
  • Wear shoes when walking on the grass
  • Don't swat or annoy wasps, as moving objects attract them.

To keep wasps away from  your property

  • Cover compost heaps and rubbish bins
  • Remove old or damaged fruit from fruit trees in your garden
  • Cover birdbaths and fish ponds.

Tips on destroying a wasps' nest

  • If you think you are allergic to bees or wasps, do not destroy the wasp nest yourself
  • Use insecticide dust. You can buy it from hardware shops. Ask staff at the shop for the best one
  • Always destroy the nest at night when the wasps are sleepy
  • Use a torch covered with red cellophane, as wasps cannot see the red colour
  • Cover all your skin
  • Approach the nest quietly and put the insecticide dust down the entrance
  • After a day or two, the wasps should be dead. If you still see wasps after four to five days, use the dust again
  • The hole can be filled in after a few days. You do not need to remove it.

Wasps’ nests

You can find nests in the ground, in rubbish heaps or at the bottom of trees and shrubs. You can also find them in roofs, walls and under the eaves of houses.
 Nests are usually light grey and look like cardboard. They are usually football sized or larger and you can see a two to five centimetre-wide entrance.

The wasp does not have natural predators in Australia to control them. Also, in Europe, the cold winters kill most of the wasps, but the warmer climate of Australia means the entire nest can survive. This means that there are too many wasps in Australia!

If you need any more information on wasps, please call the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 13 61 86.

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Last updated: 07 January 2019