Wasps: How to avoid stings


Wasps’ behaviour changes in late summer as their preferred food shifts from sugars to proteins. Because of this, you will more likely encounter them wherever food is consumed outdoors and around garbage collection areas.

If you notice large numbers of wasps in your home or garden, there is likely to be a wasp nest nearby. It may be in your house, in your garden or very close by. A mature nest in summer/autumn can contain thousands of wasps. When they do attack, most wasps are aggressive and will sting repeatedly.

What does a wasp look like?

In Australia there are 10,000 wasp species according to the Australian museum. A few species can become pests in urban areas and pose a threat from stinging. Some of the common wasp species that you can encounter in Australia are:

  • Paper wasps: This is an open nest with hexagonal cells. It usually has an umbrella shape and may contain fewer than 100 paper wasps.
  • Hornets:A hornet nest has a football shape surrounded by smooth walls.
  • European/English wasps: You can spot a European/English wasp nest by the activity around the nest. You’ll see wasps going back and forth to a concealed location. These nests can contain thousands of wasps!

Where could I find a wasp nest?

Nests are usually built in sheltered spots with easy access to the outside. Ideal spots are wall cavities, roof spaces, under eaves, in bird boxes, sheds or garages. Wasps can also create holes in the ground too, particularly in garden beds where their entrances are disguised.  To locate a nest, carefully watch the flight path of the returning wasps – this becomes easier in late Summer as the numbers of wasps increase. Wasps nests can start off very small and can grow to become the size of a football, or even bigger in some cases.

How to avoid wasp stings?

The following tips can help you avoid painful wasp stings:

  • Carefully dispose of all food and drinks, especially soft drink cans.
  • Never leave sugary drinks unattended. Also, always check sugary drinks for wasps before consuming.
  • Keep all areas of your property clean and tidy.
  • Check for wasp activity before carrying out any gardening activity.
  • Avoid strong scents and bright clothing.
  • Protect your feet by wearing closed shoes.

Should I remove wasp nest myself?

It is important to treat a wasp nest as soon as possible. Removing a wasp nest is a complex process and requires professional help. To avoid the risk of painful wasp stings (and possible allergic reactions), we strongly advise you not to try to remove a wasp nest yourself. Remember, you could cause serious injury to yourself or others if you provoke the wasps in the nest.


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