This diverse species of insects’ amounts to over 12,000 in Australia alone, with varieties ranging from the cicada and spider killing wasps, to the very small diapriid wasps, hardly visible to the human eye. The majority of wasps produce larvae that feed on other spiders and insects.
Features of wasps
- The ovipositors or egg-laying structures in some wasps are adapted as stingers
- Adult wasps pollinate flowers as they feed on nectar
- Some wasps use other wasps as “hosts” or are parasitic when feeding their young
- Most wasp species are self-sufficient, but some do form colonies, such as the paper wasps.
First discovered in Australia around 1959 as an introduced species, spreading since then to many districts, including Melbourne. Their nests can grow to 3 metres long, containing many thousands of wasps, especially during the warm weather conditions. They pose a real hazard at BBQs, when eating outdoors and especially for pets. If annoyed they will sting many times, and can be very dangerous causing asphyxiation in some extreme cases.
Around the same size as a honey bee but less hairy, the European Wasp has distinct triangle-shaped black and yellow body markings with long, black antennae. When flying they hold their legs tucked into their body, with their wings folded when resting.
The Wasps’ Nest
Many wasps’ nests are constructed underground, or hidden inside a wall cavity, a retaining wall or in a hollow tree. Varying in shape, the nest is usually always concealed, consisting of layers of cells covered with pieces of chewed up wood fibres on the outside.
In contrast, the Papernest Wasps’ nest is usually a lot smaller, partially or fully exposed with a honeycomb appearance, more commonly discovered hanging from a branch or on the underside of the house eaves.
Never attempt to remove any wasps’ nest yourself, but call in professional help.