European wasps conquer Perth as ‘wasp whisperer’ spots more in WA’s south

Saturday, September 22, 2018

European wasps can be deadly and thrive in the WA climateEuropean wasps continue to spread across Perth with the insects now covering an area that occupies most of the city’s metropolitan area.

Marc Widmer, senior technical officer with the Department of Agriculture and Food, said the wasps have gained a strong hold on the city, from Joondalup to Bedfordale, from Fremantle to Midland.

He was in Banjup on Tuesday to remove another nest.

“It seems to be really widespread this year,” Mr Widmer said.

“Two years ago we found our first nest in Banjup, now we’ve found 12 in the last two months.”

Mr Widmer said 43 nests have been removed from Perth so far this year.

“And there’s still plenty of activity,” he said.

Mr Widmer said the reasons as to why so many wasps are appearing in Perth remain a mystery.

“We don’t know why: is it because a nest was missed and they matured and released queens,” he said.

“Or is there an industry nearby that’s bringing in heavily infested produce?”

The European wasp, or Vespula germanica, is considered the world’s worst social wasp and has the potential to become a greater pest in WA than anywhere in the world, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food.

It appears the wasp problem in WA may be the result of authorities in the eastern states letting their wasp populations get out of hand.

“As they’ve been left uncontrolled in the eastern states, they’re spreading,” Mr Widmer said.

“A larger area is now infested.”

Self proclaimed “wasp whisperer” Shannon Cash believes the wasp problem may be worse than many think.

He said he recently travelled to Quinninup, about 300 kms south of Perth, and while he was having a beer with mates at a local hotel, he noticed some wasps buzzing around that he thought were of the European strain.

When asked if he was sure if they were European wasps, Mr Cash replied: “Mate, I’m 100 per cent sure.”

Wasp whisperer Cash does have an eye for spotting the insects.

He managed to detect some wasps in Fremantle before their nest was removed in January, as revealed by Fairfax Media, and has since studied the insects after being provided with a wasp detection kit by Mr Widmer.

“I was alarmed when I saw them buzzing around a fence in Quindanning especially after our close encounter in Fremantle,” Mr Cash said.

“Clearly, the wasp problem is getting worse.”

Mr Widmer said he will investigate.

Anyone interested in helping to stop the wasps can contact the Pest and Diseases Information Service on 1800 084 881. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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