Seasonal offensive on wasps

Seasonal offensive on wasps
Camera IconSeasonal offensive on wasps Credit: Countryman

A seasonal offensive is underway to stop the establishment of European wasps in WA and residents can become involved by "adopting a trap" from the Department of Agriculture and Food.

This summer will involve a widespread surveillance effort with 550 surveillance traps operated by the department and up to 300 traps "adopted" by local governments, community groups and individual volunteers.

Department research officer Oonagh Byrne said the adopt-a-trap program began in 2011 and the initiative had gained momentum as a result of strong support from the community.

"Traps alert us to the presence of this pest, helping us detect and destroy nests in the area, with 39 destroyed last season," Dr Byrne said. "Undetected nests have the potential to release thousands of new queens and establish new nests of their own."

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European wasps are considered the world's worst wasp and if established, would impact on the State's horticulture, viticulture, tourism and apiculture industries and outdoor lifestyle.

"A high priority activity for the department's wasp team is to locate and destroy any existing nests," Dr Byrne said. "Nine nests have been destroyed so far this season, in the suburbs of Munster, Welshpool, Belmont, Bayswater and Canning Vale."

The department is again looking for volunteers to adopt wasp traps this summer in Perth and in high risk regional areas, particularly Kalgoorlie, Albany, Geraldton and Bunbury.

Information about the 'adopt-a-trap' initiative is available by emailing info@agric.wa.gov .au

European wasps superficially resemble the common yellow paper wasp with bright yellow and black striped bodies. However, they are more stout, have black antennae (feelers) and don't hover.

"European wasps feed on meat and other protein products," Dr Byrne said. "The community can also play a role by reporting any unusual activity such as wasps landing on pet food or bbq meat."

Anyone who thinks they have spotted a European wasp or a nest is asked to contact the department's Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.

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