Hot weather: Bad for humans; bad for wasps, too
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Hot weather: Bad for humans; bad for wasps, too

There's been a big drop in the number of nests of non-native European wasps uncovered in the ACT over the summer.

One reason is the active program of eradication by the territory government last summer.

CoreEnviro Solutions senior pest and weed officer Jim Bariesheff inspects a European Wasp nest in Evatt.

CoreEnviro Solutions senior pest and weed officer Jim Bariesheff inspects a European Wasp nest in Evatt.Credit:Jay Cronan

But another is that the exceptional heat has displeased wasps (as it has displeased humans) - but in the case of the insects, it put them off breeding so pest nest numbers dwindled.

According to Jim Bariesheff, the city's wasp expert who deals with nests, there were 450 nests of European wasps found up to the end of last summer compared with 131 so far this summer. The hot weather may not be over yet but the numbers are unlikely to rise to last year's levels.

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There have been 13 stings this year compared with 48 in the same period last year.

There's been a big drop particularly in nests found in lofts because they have got especially hot - up between 52 and 55 degrees on the hottest days - and that's impaired the breeding ability of queen wasps, the sole source of a nest's long-term viability. "We are seeing far fewer nests in roof voids," Mr Bariesheff, who works for CoreEnviro Solutions, said.

He added that this year's wasp hot spots have been Pialligo, Weston, Forde, Franklin and Dunlop.

“Some nests can contain 2000 European Wasps. This number is expected to grow even further by the end of February," he said.

Most of the stinging has been of residents who disturbed a nest while gardening or with a hose.

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He warned that disturbing a nest threatened the colony - and that turned wasps aggressive.

"Wasps will swarm in large numbers and can sting multiple times. Multiple stings can cause a severe allergic reaction, if this occurs, seek immediate medical attention," he said.

“Nests are often hidden with the most common nesting sites in wall cavities, a hole in the ground, roof voids and they can also be found in conifer trees. Wasps can gain access through cracks, crevices and holes around windows and door frames."

It is strongly advised that when a nest is located stay clear from the area, report it to the European Wasp Hotline on 6258 5551 and call a professional pest control company to treat/destroy the nest as soon as possible.

Steve Evans is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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