Act now to prevent wasp plague

Macedon Ranges residents are being urged to act now and help prevent a repeat of a wasp problem which made many outdoor get-togethers a nightmare last summer.

Encouraging people to keep an eye out for nests on their property, council’s community safety manager Anne-Louise Lindner said queens would create new nests and increase populations once spring begins.

As reported by Star Weekly, massive numbers of European wasps were reported across the area last summer, leading to an increase in the number of people presenting to hospital with bites.

Woodend, Hanging Rock, Kyneton, Lancefield and Romsey were among the hot spots for wasp activity.

The council recommends that residents inspect their properties, paying particular attention to sheltered areas. People should also trim back bushes and overhanging branches near buildings and fences and ensure rubbish and compost bins have tightly fitted lids.

‘‘If you suspect that there is a wasp nest close to your property, talk with your neighbours and try to identify where it is located by looking for a stream of wasps flying in and around a particular site,’’ Ms Lindner said.

European wasps, which were accidentally introduced to Australia in the 1950s and were first reported in Victoria in 1977, are especially attracted to sweet foods, drinks and meat including pet food.

A lack of predators and good weather conditions have led to numbers soaring in recent years.

Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times and bites to the throat can be fatal.

According to experts, they usually attack only when provoked or defending their nest.

Residents who discover a nest should contact a qualified pest controller.

‘‘We are urging everyone to do what they can during spring to hopefully reduce the impact of nests in the community over next summer,’’ Ms Lindner said.

To report a nest on public land, phone 5422 0333.