Many Tasmanians discover that wasps like to settle in and around homes and commercial buildings. Wasps are social insects that can gather in large numbers, and, if you have a big colony living in your home, you may also experience the nasty sting these insects can dish out. Learn more about the signs that you may have a wasp problem, and find out about the pest control steps you need to take.
Types of wasp you may find in Tasmania
Tasmania is now home to two invasive species of wasp. Homeowners first encountered the German Wasp (Vespula germanica) in Hobart in 1959, and, since then, the insects have spread across the state. Tasmanians didn't see the other species (the English or Common Wasp) until 1995, and you'll still only see this type of insect in the south-eastern part of the island.
English and European wasps (generally called vespid wasps) look much the same, and only an experienced pest controller can easily distinguish between the two species. The distinctive yellow and black stripes of both species spell trouble for Tasmania homeowners, particularly in gardens, orchards and areas where you find a lot of sweet foods or liquids.
Crucially, many Tasmanians are unaware that you can also find a native species of the insect called the Flower Wasp. You will normally find this variety of the insect in coastal areas, where the Flower Wasp lives a solitary existence. As such, Flower Wasps don't make nests and don't normally create the same nuisance as vespid wasps.
Signs of an infestation
You'll probably first realise there is a nest somewhere on your property when you spot a lot of the insects flying around. If you see several wasps in a small area, it's highly likely you have a nest nearby, even if the insects go underground.
Vespid wasps make their nests by chewing wood. The wood pulp quickly mixes with the insects' saliva to create a quick-drying, pliable material that looks like paper mache. Look for nests in sheltered spots where the wasps can easily get in and out. Popular places for wasps include wall cavities, roof spaces, sheds and garages. Avoid poking around in confined spaces when you're looking for a nest. If you disturb the nest, the insects will often attack you in large numbers.
The nests slowly grow in size. At the start of the season, a Queen wasp will start with a nest that is often no larger than a golf ball. As the number of wasps increases, the nest will quickly grow to the size of a football. It's generally easier and safer to deal with a small nest, as you don't need to worry about so many insects.
Problems that wasps can cause
Wasps can inflict a severe, painful sting. Later in the year, they are more likely to become aggressive if you interfere with them. Children and animals are at higher risk because sudden movements can aggravate the insects. One wasp can sting you repeatedly, and it's not unusual for the insects to attack in large numbers.
Vespid wasps like to feed on protein-rich food. As such, they will feed on pet food and picnic food, which can become a nuisance for your family during summer months. In some cases, the insects fly around pine or gum trees, where they feed on secretions from insects and aphids. Some gardeners like wasps because they feed on other predatory insects, but intense activity can also diminish other useful insects in the area.
Wasps can't generally feed on unripe fruit, so you'll only see wasps around damaged or ripe fruit. People who grow thin-skinned fruits like peaches or raspberries may lose their harvest if a colony of wasps moves in. Wasps can also enter beehives in their search for food, and, over time, the insects may cause problems for the bee population.
Dealing with a wasp infestation
You should never try to remove a wasp nest without professional help. In 2009, a British man suffered a fatal reaction to multiple wasp stings when he accidentally disturbed a nest. A professional pest controller will have the right protective equipment to avoid injury.
You don't actually need to remove a wasp's nest to deal with the problem. A pest controller will use a powerful insecticide to kill the wasps, after which the nest will remain empty and harmless. For a small fee, the pest controller will often get rid of the nest for you as well, which may give you the peace of mind you want. Until you can arrange a visit from the pest controller, keep pets and children away from the nest.
German and European wasps are relatively common in Tasmanian homes and gardens. If you think you have a problem with a nest, bring in a pest control company like Promaster Group as quickly as possible.Share
20 May 2015
Hello, my name is Mandi, and although I own a number of pets including my dog, two ferrets and a guinea pig, I am utterly afraid of all non-pet creatures in my house. I hold the guinea pigs as I watch TV, and I sleep with my dog, but the idea of a mouse running through the walls makes me incredibly uncomfortable and tense. Since pests are such a trigger issue for me, I have spent a lot of time researching them. I have learned how to get rid of them, but more importantly, how to get rid of them without bothering or putting my pets in danger. If you are trying to balance the wanted and the unwanted creatures in your home, I hope these posts help!