BE ON WATCH FOR WASPS

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - David Charlesworth

RES­I­DENTS are urged to be on the look­out af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing pest, the Euro­pean wasp, was de­tected in Aus­tralind last month.

Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Euro­pean wasp ac­tiv­ity leader Catherine Webb said the pest was one of the world’s worst type of wasp and had the po­ten­tial to dam­age hor­ti­cul­ture, tourism and food ser­vice in­dus­tries.

Ms Webb said the wasps were small and of­ten ar­rived in WA in in­ter­state freight.

The Euro­pean wasp is at­tracted to food such as fish or other meat prod­ucts, which is why it is of­ten at­tracted to restau­rants and cafe ar­eas.

“Cafes and restau­rants have huge prob­lems where these have been es­tab­lished,” she said.

The wasps can also pose a dan­ger to hor­ti­cul­ture both in af­fect­ing the ecol­ogy and as a haz­ard to staff as they nest un­der­ground.

Ms Webb said a num­ber of nests were de­tected and de­stroyed in metropoli­tan ar­eas, but in re­gional ar­eas the lower pop­u­la­tion den­sity meant re­port­ing from the com­mu­nity was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant.

“Com­mu­nity and ru­ral re­port­ing and aware­ness is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant,” she said.

“We’ve in­creased com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Shire of Har­vey and com­mu­nity groups like the Peel-Har­vey Catch­ment Coun­cil.”

The Euro­pean wasp was ini­tially de­tected by an Aus­tralind res­i­dent.

“The pub­lic can put up traps in their back­yard as an early alert sys­tem,” Ms Webb said.

Ms Webb said while the nest in Aus­tralind had not been found, the depart­ment was clos­ing in.

“Wasps caught in traps in­di­cate a nearby nest, usu­ally lo­cated within 1km,” she said.

“The depart­ment’s biose­cu­rity of­fi­cers track for­ag­ing wasps to the nest and erad­i­cate it free of charge. About 90 per cent of nests are hid­den un­der­ground and rarely vis­i­ble.”

Euro­pean wasps re­sem­ble com­mon yel­low pa­per wasps but are the size and shape of a honey bee, are bright lemon-yel­low with black stripes, yel­low legs and black an­ten­nae.

Res­i­dents can ob­tain a trap or re­port a sus­pected Euro­pean wasp by call­ing the Pest and Dis­ease In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice on 9368 3080 or email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Euro­pean wasps can be iden­ti­fied by their bright yel­low colour with black stripes, yel­low legs and black an­ten­nae.

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