The Voice of Local Government
Contact the LGA

European Wasps

The European WASP

The European Wasp Control Program is a cooperative approach to European wasp control in South Australia. It is a shared responsibility of State and Local Government, affected industries and the community.

The European wasp is native to Europe, North Africa and temperate Asia but not Australia. Its first recorded sighting in Australia was in 1959. The first nest destroyed in South Australia was in Port Adelaide in 1978. The European wasp is now well established in metropolitan Adelaide and has reached some country areas.

The EUROPEAN wasp, Vespula germanica, is most easily identifiable by:

  • Its BLACK and YELLOW body;
  • Its YELLOW legs; and
  • TRIANGULAR markings on the abdomen.

While the European wasp is the same SIZE as the bee (10 - 15mm), it is less hairy and folds it's wings back at rest. QUEEN European wasps have identical markings and colouring, except are LARGER and can be up to 20mm.

Printable/Downloadable Brochure

European Wasp Brochure 2009 European%20Wasp%20Brochure%202009 (565 kb)

YOUR food, is their food

European wasps are scavengers and are attracted to SWEET foods and MEAT. This is why they are commonly a nuisance at outdoor eating venues and barbeques.


DO NOT aggravate a European wasp

If a European wasp is aggravated it may STING. Unlike the bee, a European wasp can sting MULTIPLE times. If left undisturbed the European wasp is NOT AGGRESSIVE to humans or other animals.

If a nest is disturbed, the wasps release a chemical which triggers the wasps to defend the nest.

DO NOT DISTURB NESTS - contact your LOCAL COUNCIL or a pest control operator.

Finding the NEST

In order for the nest to be destroyed YOU need to LOCATE the nest.

To find the nest you need to establish the direction the wasps are flying. To do this, place a food source (ie meat or pet food) in a visible location. Once the wasp has collected the food, it will fly IN A DIRECT LINE TO THE NEST. A wasp may be scavenging for food up to 500m from the nest. Keep relocating the food sources in the direction of the nest. You may need to work co-operatively with your NEIGHBOURS.

Nests are located where shelter is available. The most common location for nests is UNDERGROUND and nests will be evident by a stream of wasps entering and leaving a hole in the ground. Nests are also found in retaining WALLS, hollows of TREES and wall cavities. The nest is made of grey paper mache type material. Nests constructed of mud are NOT European wasp nests.

European Wasp Nest - Indoors European Wasp Nest - Underground


DISCOURAGEEuropean Wasp - Full Body Picture 2

Wasps from your property

  • DO NOT leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around your yard
  • AVOID leaving uneaten pet food or dog bones outside
  • Make SURE rubbish bins have tight fitting lids
  • Keep compost COVERED at all times
  • Keep your swimming pool COVERED when not in use
  • Cover EXPOSED FOOD at picnics and barbeques
  • DON'T DRINK out of cans or bottles, use clear containers or a straw

Which Wasp is WHICH?

Australian Paper Wasp Mud Wasp European Wasp

What if you are STUNG?

Only Wasps can STING repeatedly. The sting results in fiery pain and RED SWELLING.

First AID
  • APPLY ice/cold pack to sting
  • Take oral analgesics if SEVERE pain

Stings to FACE or neck or multiple stings may lead to severe swelling and/or allergic reaction. If this occurs and/or the person has DIFFICULTY BREATHING contact an ambulance, hospital or doctor.

If in doubt seek immediate MEDICAL ADVICE.

For information on FIRST AID treatment and wasp stings, contact the Poisons Information Centre. Country or City Phone 131126.


The European Wasp Control Program is a cooperative approach to European Wasp control in South Australia. This program has encompassed a number of components including Research into alternative methods to control wasp numbers.

Research Program - 1998 to 2002 - Final Report Research%20Program%20-%201998%20to%202002%20-%20Final%20Report (224 kb).

The Research Program was commissioned and funded by the South Australian Government. The report remains the property of the South Australian Government.

Contact your COUNCIL

Only contact your COUNCIL if you locate a European wasp nest. There are many other types of native wasps which are a natural part of our ecosystem. Once you have located the nest CONTACT your LOCAL COUNCIL.


Diagram of LifeCycle of wasps


European Wasp - Full Body Picture
Bee Picture


European Wasps and Fruit Picture






European Wasps in Nest Picture












































Search Site
Advanced Search
Top of Page
GPO Box 2693, Adelaide SA 5001 | Phone: 8224 2000 | Fax: 8232 6336 | Email: