European wasps’ nests discovered in City of Armadale area

Top: DAFWA technical officer Alan Cord checks a trap. Above: European wasps on a fishing lure, and drinking water.
Top: DAFWA technical officer Alan Cord checks a trap. Above: European wasps on a fishing lure, and drinking water.

EXOTIC pests have been spotted in the City of Armadale area.

Four European wasp nests have been discovered in Bedfordale, posing a potential threat to social amenity, lifestyle, horticultural industries and the environment.

Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) senior technical officer Marc Widmer said the find suggested there could be more nests in the area and asked residents to keep an eye out.

“With larger properties in the southeast metropolitan fringe, the public’s support to assist surveillance efforts is vital to ensure this social and environmental pest does not become established in Western Australia,” Mr Widmer said.

DAFWA technical officer Alan Cord was out looking for the pests last Tuesday morning.

“We’ve killed six nests around here so far – there was obviously a nest around here last year because for every nest you miss, the general rule of thumb is that there’s about 10 the following year.

“And the problem up here is we’ve never really had them in a place like this. Generally, they turn up in industrial areas, because the queens are transported from the east where they’re well established,” Mr Cord said.

“So (when) they turn up in a place like this, with low population density, people don’t tend to notice them. Whereas, they turn up in suburbia and there’s lots of people, so there’s more chance of them being spotted.”

European wasps should not be confused with paper wasps, which are very common in WA.

Differences include black antennae on the European wasps, a bee-shaped body, the tendency to buzz around barbecues and pet food, and the places they nested.

“Paper wasps are going to be up under eaves, sometimes in trees.

“European wasps, 98 per cent of the time, they’re in the ground. And they’ll be a big ball, the size of a basketball, probably bigger. There’ll be a hole in the ground and you’ll see them flying in and out,” Mr Cord said.

“Paper wasp nests might have about 100, if that. European wasps can have thousands and thousands.

“And you think, if you get 20 nests around here, each with 2000 or 3000 wasps in them.”

Reports of European wasp sightings can be made on the department’s website, or a free call to the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881.

Local residents and businesses are also invited to join the Adopt-a-Trap program, which uses protein lures to capture foraging workers and track down nests.

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