The recent discovery of invasive European wasps in Greenmount marks the seventh nest statewide this season. Shire of Mundaring residents are warned to be on the lookout for unusual wasp behaviour, especially around pet food or barbeques.
The nest find comes only weeks after the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development kicked off its annual campaign to detect, locate and destroy European wasps.
DPIRD Pest and Disease Information Service supervisor Catherine Webb said the European wasp was a declared pest in WA. It has potential to spread and seriously impact on agriculture, outdoor lifestyles and the safety of people, pets and livestock. "Summer presents the best opportunity to detect the pests as the wasps leave the nest to scavenge food, driving them into our yards, recreational areas and traps," Ms Webb said.
"The European wasp has distinct behaviours among wasp species and other insects in Western Australia, which make it easy to identify. "Wasps that feed on meat, fruit, human food and drinks, pet food and insects, or wasps with their legs raised during flight, are behaviours unique to European wasps and should be reported to the department.
Fertilised queens can make their way into Western Australia on vehicles and in freight and cargo, then disperse and lay low, hidden, while they build their nest containing thousands of worker wasps.
DPIRD's efforts are complemented by other government agencies, volunteer community members and community groups that assist with trapping throughout the State to detect the wasps. The Shire of Mundaring is assisting by managing a string of monitoring traps that form an outer surveillance boundary through the suburbs of Helena Valley, Boya, Darlington and Glen Forrest to complement those being managed by DPIRD.
Ms Webb said when European wasp reports were confirmed, department officers were brought in to locate and destroy the nest. "A collaborative approach has proven to be most effective for managing the declared wasp in Western Australia, successfully preventing the pest from establishing since the European wasp surveillance and eradication began 41 years ago," she said.
"Last season's program resulted in 130 nests being destroyed over an area the size of Tasmania – the highest on record, and, given European wasps are also gaining ground in many Australian states and territories, another difficult season is anticipated.
To assist Shire of Mundaring's residents identify the pest, European wasp specimens are available for viewing at the Shire Administration Building and the Boya Library. Posters are also being distributed through the affected suburbs.
The Shire's Senior Environmental Health Officer Martin Shurlock said "The Shire encourages residents to familiarise themselves with characteristics of the European wasp and report any suspected sightings to DPIRD's pest and disease information service."
"To report suspect European wasps to DPIRD, simply describe what you saw, where you saw it and how it happened, and include a photo of the wasps, if it is safe to photograph them."
Find out more about the European wasp, including identification guide, via the DPIRD website here.
Reports can be made online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au, by using the MyPestGuideTM Reporter app or by contacting DPIRD's Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.