Nature: European wasps terrorizing Western Australia

A record of number of European wasps are buzzing up trouble in Western Australia with the Department of Agriculture and Food warning on Monday, the out-of-control swarms could pose a threat to the state’s agricultural sector.

While there’s only estimated to be around 200 to 250 nests across the state, each one can contain tens-of-thousands of wasps.

“In Western Australia we have the capacity to get these super-nests,” Department of Agriculture and Food entomologist Marc Widmer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The nest carries on through winter and it’s turbo-charged by the time spring comes with all these queens.”

“They are complete and utter ecological vandals… they’ve got no predators, they’ve got no agents that control them like they would in their native range, so they are off and free.”

With warm weather and soft soils in the state, conditions in Western Australia are highly favorable for European wasps.

Despite a decades-long campaign to eradicate the stinging insect, it’s believed that the wasps continue to make their way down under by hitching a ride on cargo ships.

Attracted to sweet foods and raw meats, wasps not only pose a significant threat to Western Australian farming sector but according to Widmer, the numbers are getting so bad it may even start to affect the state’s outdoor lifestyle where barbecues and dining outside is an important part of the local culture.

“You wouldn’t have drinks outside if they were around. You would have wasps buzzing all around your picnic tables and your outdoor events,” he said.

“You would change your outdoor way of life. You wouldn’t feed your pets outside, you would be worried about your dog or your cat swallowing a wasp on their food.