WA’s European Wasp detections dip to lowest level in 12 years

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European Wasp.
Camera IconEuropean Wasp. Credit: Robyn Knox

WA is winning the war against one of the world’s worst pests and threats to primary industries, with detections of European Wasp nests across the State dropping to the lowest levels in 12 years.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development wrapped up its annual surveillance campaign this month, finding the State has made significant progress in its battle against the pest.

Native to Europe, North Africa and temperate Asia, the European Wasp has invaded other counties by hitchhiking on planes, ships and road vehicles – becoming established in North America, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and in south-east Australia.

This includes in South Australia, NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania.

Residents are asked to keep an eye out for any European wasps.
Camera IconResidents are asked to keep an eye out for any European wasps. Credit: Pia Scanlon

While occurrences of European wasp in Australia have been documented since 1960, the WA European Wasp Eradication Program has successfully eradicated each wasp incursion in WA.

The State Government ramped up its eradication program three years ago after a surge in outbreaks of the wasp, particularly along the Darling Scarp.

DPIRD technical manager John van Schagen said the 12-year detection low was the result of three years of sustained efforts to detect, delineate and extinguish wasp hotspots.

He said 61,100ha was surveyed this year and more than 3000 traps deployed.

“Four public reports led to detections of this pest and 14 nests were destroyed in the metropolitan area as part of this extensive campaign,” Mr van Schagen said.

“Additional resourcing, collaboration with local government, other departments and the community, along with strong community reporting, have combined to produce this great result.”

An inaugural baiting program carried out in 2019-20 also contributed to the success of the campaign.

Mr van Schagen said the baiting posed a “negligible risk to non-target species”, including bees.

“Given the large area of rugged, unsurpassable bushland terrain, it became apparent that the traditional lure, search and destroy methods to remove European wasps from this environment were going to be inadequate,” he said.

“Department officers drew on information from the Eastern States, New Zealand and Israel to implement the baiting program across 257 baiting stations stretching more than 2,500ha of continuous bushland from Lesmurdie to Martin.

“Surveillance in the area will continue a while longer.”

Four public reports led to detections of this pest and 14 nests were destroyed in the metropolitan area as part of this extensive campaign.

John van Schagen

The effectiveness and application of baiting programs will be evaluated to determine future use as part of an integrated pest management strategy.

Mr van Schagen thanked the community and collaborators for their continued support of the program, which has been running for 44 years, and encouraged them to remain vigilant and alert.

The pests look similar to yellow paper wasps but are distinguished by their completely black antennae and shorter legs, which they tuck up under their body when they fly.

Reports of suspect European wasp sightings can be made via the department’s My Pest Guide Reporter app, its website, or or by contacting the Pest and Disease Information service on 9368 3080 or padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.

To find out more about European wasps, including maps and statistics for the 2020-21 surveillance season, visit agric.wa.gov.au/wasps

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