Lesmurdie: recent European wasp discovery prompts warning


Residents are asked to keep an eye out from European wasps, which are bright yellow in colour, with black stripes and yellow legs and black antennae.
Residents are asked to keep an eye out from European wasps, which are bright yellow in colour, with black stripes and yellow legs and black antennae.

RESIDENTS are being urged to report any sightings of the declared pest European wasp, after three recent discoveries in unexpected locations across the metropolitan area including in Lesmurdie.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has more than 1200 agency and volunteer European wasp traps throughout the city, in high-risk areas where the pest is most likely to be detected.

Department senior technical officer Marc Widmer said the recent reports were from just outside the surveillance program’s cross-section of the city, from Lesmurdie, Landsdale and Forrestdale.

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Mr Widmer said the public’s reports highlighted the importance of the community’s role in biosecurity.

“If these recent reports were not made, the nests could have matured and released thousands of reproductive queens, which would make the problem even more widespread,” he said.

The department has since found and destroyed the Lesmurdie nests.

There has been a marked decline in the number of European wasp nests this year compared to this time last year, with only 23 confirmed in the metropolitan area to date, compared with 84 nests in 2016.

This year marks 40 years since the department launched its eradication program, and WA remains the only place in the world, within the wasp’s range, to keep these wasps from establishing.

“We suspect the lower number is due to certain climatic conditions in the eastern states, from where newly fertilised wasp queens come from within imported goods,” he said.

Mr Widmer said community surveillance would become even more valuable in coming weeks, as the weather cooled and the effectiveness of the lures used in trapping became reduced.

“The high protein lures become less attractive to wasp workers as the colony ages,” he said.

“We encourage the public to remain vigilant and to keep an eye out for European wasps, especially near industrialised areas, and to report any suspected sightings to the department.

“These wasps are one of the world’s worst social pests, and can cause a nasty or dangerous sting to people, pets and livestock.”

People and organisations interested in supporting European wasp surveillance can join the department’s Adopt-a-Trap program.

More information is available on the department’s website agric.wa.gov.au.