A wasp species considered one of the world’s most dangerous, has migrated to Western Australia in record numbers.
The European wasp poses a threat to the state’s plants and food as well as public safety.
So far this season, authorities have found 140 nests in the Perth metropolitan area, breaking last year’s record for the most sightings in a season.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is warning the public to keep clear of any nests.
“If you find a nest, stay safe by keeping away and calling the department to destroy it,” said the department’s chief plant biosecurity officer, Dr Sonya Broughton.
The wasps are more commonly found in the Eastern States, but come to Western Australia in freight and cargo.
“As they’re expanding their range in the eastern states, more and more are creeping out to be shipped over here every year and unfortunately there’s nothing we can do,” says Marc Widmer, senior technical officer for entomology at the department.
“Because of the nature of their arrival, most of the nests are found near freight-end points,” said Mr Widmer.
According to department figures, Gosnells has the most sightings of the metropolitan local government areas with 41, followed by Kalamunda with 29 and Canning 21. The wasps have not been seen outside the metropolitan area.
“They’re an agricultural pest and they’re a severe agricultural pest,” said Widmer.
“Everyone in Western Australia, even outside the metropolitan area, can help by keeping an eye out and reporting anything that might be a European wasp,” said Dr Broughton.
The European wasp has distinctive black antennae and when they fly, they raise their legs.
95% of nests are under the ground, so they’re difficult to spot.
If you think you’ve seen a European wasp, you can make a report to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Centre on 08 9368 3080.