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How Aussies put the sting on a stripey pest

Media Release: 12 September 2011

An army of keen-eyed Australian families has helped notch up a vital victory in the never-ending war on a ferocious and painful invader.

European wasps have been consistently exterminated from the pleasant homes, gardens, farms and parks of Perth, Western Australia, in the process demonstrating the effectiveness of a national defence approach to dealing with damaging invaders.

“We’re absolutely delighted how effective the wasp control in WA has been,” says Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) Chairman, Professor John Lovett. “Essentially, like the famous Coastwatch in World War II, it is about ordinary Australians who keep their eyes peeled for signs of invasion. We can then send in the ‘troops’ to defeat it.”

The stripey, aggressive European wasp (Vespula germanica) was first detected in Tasmania in 1959, then crossed to mainland Australia in 1977. It has since become established in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

The wasp also showed up in Perth for the first time in 1977, and has done so almost every year since, hitching rides on cargo from the Eastern States.

But in WA, every single one of its nests has been wiped out.

If even one survived, it would breed queens in their thousands, enough to populate the whole State with wasps, a CRCNPB report has found. READ MORE