Primary Pest Control - The Termite Specialists
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There may be hundreds of species of wasps, hornets and bees found around the world. Only a few of these are seen as real pests here in Australia and some of them do not sting.
There are two types of wasps – the social wasps and the solitary wasps.The social wasps such as Yellow Jackets usually have a larger population than solitary wasps.Social wasps live as colonies in nests of honeycomb-like cells. They form complex social groups and all members of a colony help raise the young.
Some species, like the Honey Bee, are actually a valuable part of our ecosystem. Understanding their habits, lifecycle and appearance can help to identify the best form of wasp control for your home or business.
But wasps can also pose quite a severe threat to the safety of humans and animals. Many species are capable of inflicting intense stings.
The common species in Australia are listed below.
European Wasp and English Wasp
Latin name: Vespulagermanica, Vespula vulgaris
These two species have gained prominence in some parts of Australia; both have been introduced from overseas. The European wasp can now be found in Tasmania, Victoria, Sydney and some country areas of N.S.W. The English wasp can be found in Victoria.
The workers of both species are about 12-17 mm, the same size as bees, but have conspicuous lemon-yellow banded markings on a black body. The colorless wings are folded longitudinally when at rest.
The English wasp has similar color markings to the European Wasp but the yellow bands just in front of where the wings are attached to the body differ as follows. The outer margin of the band of the European Wasp is angulated, while the English Wasp´s is straight.
The nest color of the two wasps also differs: European Wasp nest is grey as they use dry, weathered wood usually taken from the sides of telegraph poles or fence. English wasp nest color is wavy, light fawn as they use mainly rotted wood taken from the insides of wooden poles.
Towards the end of summer the colony reaches its full size, and the workers forage for sweet materials much more than previously. Similarly their search for protein-based foods intensifies and often switches from insects to meat scraps, such as pet food or picnic food, to feed the rapidly increasing number of grubs. The wasps become more aggressive as their numbers increase and they are most troublesome during autumn.
Wasps attack a wide range of damaged, ripe fruit. In general they are unable to damage sound fruit and thus are rarely a problem in clean, commercial apple orchards. Sometimes the wasps will damage ripe grapes directly by entering the fruit where it joins the stalk. Thin-skinned fruits such as raspberries, peaches and apricots may also be subject to direct attack when they are ripe and particularly when they are overripe.
Wasps are the most troublesome outdoor insect pest found around homes, in gardens, fruit orchards and especially where sweet foods, fruits or liquids are present.
Locating and destroying nests with a registered insecticide is the most effective method of controlling European wasps. To locate nests, follow the flights of adults as they return to the nest with food. Nests are often underground, in earth banks, rock walls, house foundations and bases of old tree stumps. The possibility of a nest being in open ground should not be overlooked.
Latin name: ApisMellifera
Honey bees measure about 15 mm long and are light brown in color. They are usually oval-shaped creatures with golden-yellow colors and brown bands.
Honey bees, although one of the most popular bees, represent only a small percent of bee species. Honey bees are the only surviving group of bees from the Apinitribe, which is under the Apisgenus. They are known for producing and storing honey, or liquefied sugar, as well as building impressively large nests using wax secreted by workers in a particularcolony.Like some other bee species, honey bees are social and live in colonies numbering in the thousands.
The honey bee is one member of the insect class Insecta. These insects are members of the sub family Apinae, which produce and store liquefied sugar, otherwise known as honey.
If you have a problem with honey bees, contact a local Bee Keeper or Environmental Health Department as they will be able to arrange for the swarm to be relocated.
Yellow Jacket (Social Wasp)
Yellow Jackets are about 20-25 mm long, compared to bees, they have a thinner waist. Their body color varies between black and yellow or black and white.
All wasps will defend their nests, but Yellowjackets and hornets are the most aggressive. They can be distinguished from bees by their thin “waists.” Bees are thick-wasted. Yellow jackets fold their wings lengthwise when at rest. Like all wasps, yellow jackets prey on a variety of insects and other arthropods. Yellow jackets will also forage on foods that people eat, especially sweets and meats. They are considered beneficial insects, because they eat other insects. They are a nuisance to people however, because they are aggressive and leave painful stings.
The yellow jacket colony will remain active for only one summer, after which the queens will fly away to start more colonies. The remaining ones die at the end of the season, and the nest is not reused.
If a colony is disturbed, the yellow jackets can become very aggressive and sting. Make sure to inspect for yellow jacket nests, before mowing the lawn or using trimmers. For most people, the yellow jacket sting is temporary, but painful. However for allergic individuals, a single sting may result in a serious reaction that requires medical treatment.
Carpenter Bees can look like Bumble Bees; large, with yellow and black patterns. They are about 25 mm and may have some metallic reflections ranging from dark blue, yellow, green or purple tints. Their abdomens are shiny, which are different from Bumble Bees, which have more hair.
Carpenter Bees are commonly sighted in the spring hovering like a helicopter around eaves, porch rails, and under decks. Sometimes carpenter bees are called “wood bees”, because they bore into wood, butthey do not eat it for nutrition. Although, they are a wood boring insect, they are not considered a true structural pest.
These insects tunnel into wood to lay their eggs. Bare, unpainted or weathered softwoods are preferred especially redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Painted or pressure-treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Common nesting sites include eaves, window trim, facia boards, siding, wooden shakes, decks and outdoor furniture.
Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males are quite harmless, however, since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested. As pollinators, they eat nectar and pollen from flowering plants.
Carpenter bees prefer to attack wood which is bare, weathered and unpainted. Therefore, the best way to deter the bees is to paint all exposed wood surfaces, especially those which have a history of being attacked. Wood stains and preservatives are less reliable than painting, but will provide some degree of repellency versus bare wood. To further discourage nesting, garages and outbuildings should be kept closed when carpenter bees are actively searching for nesting sites.
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