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Look out for European wasps in Western Australia

A European wasp nest found in the roof of a Busselton house. Photo credit: Ben Hughes

Residents and pest controllers in Western Australia are asked to look out for and report European wasps, after a nest was found in the roof cavity of a house in Busselton.

The Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food’s Pest and Disease Information Service received the report of a nest from an alert pest controller who detected the nest while undertaking work on a client’s property.

The European wasp is a declared pest in WA due to its potential to flourish and impact on horticultural industries, outdoor lifestyles, and the health of people, pets, and livestock.

WA Department of Agriculture and Food senior technical officer, Marc Widmer said the find was concerning because European wasps hadn’t been found in Western Australia since 2007, when a nest was found in Capel.

“European wasps are more frequently found in metropolitan Perth or in regional cities such as Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Albany, and Geraldton, where fertilised queens arrive in freight and cargo from the eastern states, where the European wasp is an established pest,” Mr Widmer said.

“It’s important that we find every nest each season, because there is a risk that fertilised queen wasps will emerge from mature nests and start new nests the following spring.”

Local residents and pest controllers in Western Australia have been asked to look out for European wasps and report them immediately to the department to enable their treatment and removal.

Mr Widmer said residents, local governments, and business could also volunteer to Adopt-a-Trap to supplement the WA Department of Agriculture and Food’s own surveillance grid of more than 1100 traps.

“The WA Department of Agriculture and Food implemented the ‘Adopt-a-Trap’ initiative in 2011 and since then, it has resulted in a positive response from the community that sees residents and local government place traps in their gardens with a lure, and check them regularly,” he said.

“This helps in the surveillance and eradication of European wasps.”

The traps are free and more information about the ‘Adopt-a-Trap’ initiative is available on the department’s website agric.wa.gov.au.

European wasps have a thick-body and are about the same size and shape as a bee. They are a bright lemon-yellow colour with black stripes and yellow legs, and their antennae are entirely black.

They fly swiftly with their legs tucked up close to their body and their large nests are usually built into the ground.

European wasps are scavengers, so if a wasp settles on pet food, fish, or other meat products, they should be reported immediately to the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food’s Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

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