New wasps in the Bega Valley
We recently had some wasps that were found nesting in a wood heap in Bega brought in for identification. These wasps looked similar to our native paper wasps but were slightly bigger and the colours and patterns on the body were different when looked at closely. A digital photo was sent to the Australian Museum and the wasps were confirmed to be Asian Paper Wasps.
The Asian Paper Wasp was first reported in Australia around 1990 and has generally only been reported in the Sydney region with one record at Jamberoo and a recent confirmed report in Canberra. This was the first time it has been reported on the far south coast though the entomologist at the Museum thinks that they are probably more widespread than we realise but have been under reported.
They are slender wasps with a body length of between 13mm to 25mm; reddish brown to black bodies with yellow rings and reddish areas on the abdomen and the wings are reddish or amber brown. The wasps mainly eat invertebrate prey and can have a significant impact on the local invertebrate fauna. It is also a considerable public nuisance, stinging people when it is disturbed and constructing its nest on houses.
Other exotic wasps such as European wasps are already established in our region and are causing issues for people and the environment. The paper wasps are less aggressive than European wasps but can be aggressive if their nests are disturbed and can deliver painful stings so care should be taken around the nests or when treating the nests.
In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation therapy is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy.
A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Land Services Officer