The European wasp (vespula germanica) arrived first in Tasmania before spreading to the mainland. It is an aggressive, scavenging pest that is most active in summer and autumn. Wasps deliver a painful sting that, unlike their bee relatives, can be used repeatedly to drive off would-be predators. European wasp colonies are concealed underground, in buildings or other out of sight places.
Paper wasps (polistes humilis) are about 10-15mm long with long thin wings. They make their nests of a grey papery material made from wood fibres. The nests are often found under an overhang such as a pergola or the eaves of a roof. Colonies generally range from 12-20 individual wasps. Paper wasps are foragers, bringing food such as chewed-up caterpillars back to the nest for their larvae. Paper wasps may attack if they feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed.
European wasp workers (sterile females) become active in warmer weather. Workers search for carbohydrate or protein food for their wasp grubs, including caterpillars, insects, carcasses or even picnic food. Adult wasps feed on meat juices, nectar and other sweet materials. Grubs may also be fed nectar.
The queen lays numerous eggs during spring and summer, one per cell. The eggs hatch into grubs which are fed until they enter the pupa stage. Then they emerge as adult workers that may only live for a few weeks. In late summer to autumn the workers build many larger cells in which queens and drones (males) are reared. These reproductives leave the nest to mate. The drones will die once they have fertilised the queen who will seek out a place to shelter over winter before starting a new nest site. Most queens will die due to predation, cold or unsuitable shelter.
Wasps can be treated by a qualified technician at any time of the day. When treating at night, it is important to use a red light as wasps may react aggressively to normal torchlight (we suggest using red cellophane over a torch if a red lamp is unavailable).