REPORTS of European wasp nests increased six-fold in the past six weeks, with data indicating it’s going to be an above-average season, according to the City Services Directorate.
Between 12-16mm in size, European wasps are more aggressive than European bees and will attack if they feel their nest is threatened.
In a normal, seven-month season (starting in October and ending in April), the senior pest and weed officer of CoreEnviro Solutions, a free European wasp hotline and advice service, Jim Bariesheff, says only about 500 nests are usually reported, but since mid-January, there have already been 400 sightings.
He says wasps have been spurred on by “perfect conditions” because of recent rains and an abundance of food and have become more active, foraging for food and building material for their nests.
European wasps start building their nests in October, so at this stage of the season, people start to notice wasps because they have become large, Mr Bariesheff says.
Nests will continue to grow until April when the queen will leave the hive to hibernate, he says.
“The European wasp hotline has been kept busy with reports and people seeking advice, with some in the community already noticing increased activity around their properties and public spaces,” he says.
So far, Kambah has recorded the highest number of European wasp nests for south Canberra with 24 nests, while Weetangera has recorded 17 nests, the most in north Canberra, he says.
Mr Bariesheff also provided some advice on what areas of the home wasp nests may be found and what to do if they are found.
“A steady stream of yellow and black wasps entering or leaving a hole in the ground, a small entrance around doors and window frames or activity around the roof of a home are some common signs of where wasps have built their nests,” he says.
“European wasps can also nest in conifer trees and, in some cases, gardens. When inspecting outdoor areas around the home for wasp sightings, keep in mind that in some cases a nest may not be on your property but up to 500 metres away.
“If a nest is located, stay clear of the site, and contact the European wasp hotline for advice.”
If stung by a European wasp, the eWasp hotline recommends applying a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling. If there’s evidence of a more severe reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately, they say.
More information via the eWasp website.